They say moving is more stressful than divorce. Does that include interoffice moves?
On Thursday morning, my department was told we had two hours to pack up and move to another section of our massive office building. New desks. New neighbors. New challenges.
We moved from being near the coffee pot and popcorn machine to being near the copier and toilets — from which we can hear flushing. And some other sounds, too. We were downsized in every way — size of the cubicles, location, access and people.
The move was stressful, but as with any move, it's important to make the best of it. There was no overhead light in my new corner, so I strung up tea lights. There was no room for my comfortable writing chair, so I made a fort under my desk. (I'm writing from my fort now.) Barricaded by my desktop and a filing cabinet on either side, a few pillows, a desk lamp, a scented candle and a blanket were all I needed. Alas, even with my own personal work fort, I wasn't excited about my new cubicle. That is, until the mystery began.
While trying to locate outlets to plug in my computer, I found that the underside of my desk was covered in stickers. At first, I didn't think anything of it. I have seen stickers under desks since kindergarten. But that's before I saw the note. A piece of paper — folded 10 times over — was taped to the underside of my desk. I unfolded it and found a note scrawled across. The note read, "9-10."
What could it mean? Was "9-10" the password to the previous cubicle tenant's email address? Or was it her goal pants size? Or her birthday? Or the birthday of her crush? Or the hotel room number where she maintained a torrid love affair? Or the number of a locker at the train station where she leaves industry secrets to be picked up by secret Balinese spies?
This mystery must be solved!
I crawled into my fort and looked up at the stickers overhead. Suddenly, I felt they had a pattern and I was the only person who could crack the case. I was a detective. I was John Nash. I also may be schizophrenic.
For an hour, I tried to find the link between the Snoopy "Feel Better" sticker and the sticker of a sun downing a soft drink and saying, "You're a star!" If I'd had access to yarn, you can bet it would have been used to attach one image to the other in search of a connection. Sure, I had real work to do, but clearly this was more important. What if someone had left me the "9-10" note on purpose? What if it had been an SOS? Coordinates for where I could find my pending pink slip?
(Hmm, come to think of it, all this time spent under my desk may bring about that pink slip sooner than later.)
When I finally went back to attending to my daily work tasks, I pinned the "9-10" note to my desktop so the mystery would stay present in the back of my mind. It reminded me of a book I read as a youngster. It chronicled a kid whose family moved to a new farmhouse. She was devastated by the move until she discovered a hidden tunnel under her home and decided to figure out where the tunnel led and why it was there. By the time she solved the mystery, her new house actually felt like home. Perhaps that is what I was doing with the tea lights and the desk fort and the crazy "9-10" mystery. I know it was.
The next day, the woman who used to work in my cubicle walked by. My new neighbor asked, "So what's with all the stickers and notes taped under your desk?" She looked at us confused. But then her eyes brightened, and she said, "Oh! There are a lot of nails that point down under the desk, and they kept pricking me. I used stickers and folded paper to cover up the sharp ends."
That's it?! Bah! Humbug!
The mystery was over, but the desk and I had become closer because of it. Then again, maybe the old cubicle tenant lied to cover up her secret correspondence with Balinese spies through a train station locker! Hmm...
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Photo credit: Greg Clarke