They are coming to take me away

They are coming to take me away. Well O.K. Not me. My desk.

For the last 18 years I have used a wooden desk, made with excellent workmanship. I even moved it down the hall when I moved up to a window office some 15 years ago. It sat at right angles to a credenza so that I could use an old BM Selectric they were about to throw out. Over the years the Selectric was replaced with various cast off word processors and memory writers and finally with a Pentium.

With the arrival of the first computer, I was able to move the monitor into that dead space created by the corner where the two pieces of furniture come together. The keyboard rested on the elbow of the desk. I could look at my text on the desk and back up to the monitor without twisting my neck, I didn't have to have my back to the door. My mouse pad (when Windows arrived) was just to the right of the keyboard, on the credenza. Right where I needed it. I was comfortable. Behind the credenza was a large orange partition, the kind they used to use to separate secretarial work spaces in the 70's. It added color to the drab room, served as a bulletin board, and, most important, it covered the pinholes and coffee stains my predecessor had left on the wall. (The last I heard he has been running a bar in the Keys since the mid 80's. Maybe he had the right idea.)

Well, last week they came to take it away. The last five offices were getting new "system" furniture. Not that I didn't know this day was coming. The rest of the office had been converted long ago. Excellent desks were replaced with off white and charcoal gray hunks of tin. The workmen couldn't believe the quality of the desks they were removing. Each was different. Only one was not attractive, an old steel case desk with a Formica top. The rest were outstanding. Two were what I call air craft carriers, large desks with a huge overhang enabling visitors to pull up to the desk and actually work. Mine was smaller so that it would fit along side the credenza. But it was well made, with elbows, locks, deep drawers, dividers. It was a desk.

The new thing is actually configured fairly similarly to my old setup. It is bolted together in the same right angle arrangement I used to have. It even has a "fully adjustable" ergonomic keyboard stand that swings out from under the part of the desk that is where my old credenza was. Except it is fully adjustable to any position except the one I want. The one I use. It hits my knees. It would require me to look straight at the wall, the one with the pinholes. And my notes would be over my right shoulder on the desk.

So now my keyboard, rests across the right angle between the two pieces. No elbow to support it. And the off-white top reflects an incredible amount of light. The ceiling of my office has six florescent fixtures. Back in the Carter administration it was decreed that only four should be used. But I have used only three for years. I can't really cut it down to two. I'll have to wear sunglasses.

Why all of this. Because THEY said so.

That's why. And I suppose it isn't really that bad but I resent the cookie cutter mentality that insists that every office has to look alike. That we may be professionals, but that we are fungible. I note that the managers still have huge real desks, and incandescent lamps (purchased by the government not brought from home). But this is a cookie cutter age. And I am a round peg in a square hole.

In this hectic, frantic world, the wood tones and the softer corloration of the light, reflected from the old bulletin board, the familiarity of the old materials, helped calm things and helped us acknowledge our individuality. But then that is old fashioned, very old fashioned indeed.

Back to where you left off if you were reading I am not a Luddite.

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Created with DiDa! 10/19/97 6:56:53 PM Copyright 1997 Leonard Grossman

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