Thursday, September 02, 2010

Reflections on a new office space

Last weekend, with the invaluable help of Big J, my new office got a complete makeover: paint, carpet, trim. little j helped me pick out a nice carpet and coordinating paint (Bungalow Gold!) -- she has her mom's eye for decorating!

By Sunday afternoon the office was done and ready for move-in. That move took place on Monday and Tuesday, and what a whirlwind it was. Well, hurricane is more like it. The movers put the desk and file drawers in on Monday afternoon and by noon on Tuesday everything else had been moved up. There was a brief moment of panic when no one seemed to know where my 10 boxes of books were moved, but soon they were also stacked in my new office.

Yesterday I got to work and was feeling good, comfortable, happy. Sadly, it didn't last long. In the chaos of the move a box of files went missing. These, unfortunately, were my everyday working files, including an article that I had been working on for the last year. At first I assumed that it had been left behind and went searching. The realization slowly sunk in that it was, in fact, recycled. I searched all the giant recycle tubs lining the halls. I peeked into every nook and cranny that I could think of. No luck. And then I called Big J, sobbing.

(This is where I imagine my files are!)

Here's the thing: I wasn't sad. I was angry. No, I was way past angry -- I was irate, perhaps irrationally so. And unfortunately when I get to that point I cry. It would be much better if I could punch something, but apparently the female socialization in our culture doesn't allow for that, at least in my world. Friends, I literally cried the rest of the day. These are things that can't really be replaced. Sure, they can be rebuilt, but not replaced.

Because he is totally awesome this way, Big J came up to my office. We talked, or, rather, I ranted (there were an amazing number of f-bombs thrown out). I threatened to quit my job. I cursed everyone that works here from the top to the bottom of the organization. Finally, at Big J's suggestion, we went to the university recycling center. One person remembered the box and being told by someone (clearly not me) that it was recycling, and then they apologetically told me that it was more than likely buried under twenty yards of recycling from across the campus. I knew it wasn't their fault and thanked them for their time. And then I went home and polished off half a pint of Ben and Jerry's and looked for a new job. Sadly, I didn't feel much better because this wasn't just a box of files, it was the proverbial last straw -- the lack of contract, the crappy salary, little to no support . . . I could go on, but . . .

Now it is a new day and things are in perspective. Miraculously, I got a new contract late yesterday afternoon and it came with a raise (although not even close to what I requested). Sure, it was three months late, but it did come with apologies, so, ever the peace-maker, I can accept that. And the box of stuff is just stuff. It's not like they threw out my soul (no matter how much it felt like that yesterday). The fact is, I love what I do and I can rebuild those files. There's not much use is dwelling on it at this point. Of more importance is the education, mentorship, and example I provide for my students. After all, that's why I chose this track. I could stay angry or resentful, but that won't serve anyone well, least of all me.

And you know, writing this down helps. I'll never feel good about what happened, but at least I can put it behind me and move on.


Sherri said...

Oh Christian, I am so sorry! I wish I were there, at least to commiserate over that half-pint of Ben and Jerry' glad for Jason, ever the grounded one!
Congrats on the (finally) contract and here's to a fabulous and productive year in your new office!

That Girl said...

Ahhh....thank you Sherri. How about commiserating over lemon drops?