Back to work. Back to reality. After two weeks off to move to a new house and take care of sundry other matters, I had to return to the grind.
I was expecting to walk into a really bad scenario that first day, one I have seen many times before. It seems that whenever an employee is gone for a period of time, the custodian decides to do a thorough job in the cubicle, everything gets moved around, and the trash can ends up on the desk. The custodian doing a thorough job “cleaning” translates into someone assaulting my cubicle and spreading toilet germs all over everything (because he probably just came from cleaning the restrooms).
To my surprise, when I walked into my cubicle, nothing was out of place – not one thing. I wasn’t sure how to react. I had expected to spend my first hour sanitizing everything in sight, but now all I had to do was a typical morning cleaning. After the shock wore off, I took care of that promptly, and I was able to get to work. So, everything was great, right?
The reality check came later that day. My neighbor in the next cubicle was glad that I was back as she likes to chat. In fact, she came over several times that day to chat. I am the one that trained her for her job, so she also comes over to ask questions regarding procedure and such. That afternoon she came over with a small stack of paperwork in her hands. Before she asked her question, she had to chat a little. She was wearing a skirt that came to her knees. Why is that important? She had an itch. What was she going to do about it? She certainly wasn’t going to pretend that it wasn’t there. What was the logical thing to do? Apparently, a bundle of papers makes a good scratching instrument. Three or four times she used the edge of the bundle to scratch her leg. I could only hope that the itching was caused by something as innocuous as dry skin.
When she was done chatting, she decided to get to the question, the one about the paperwork. I had forgotten about that. Now she was waving the contaminated papers in my face. We discussed the problem, and we almost had it resolved, and I couldn’t wait for her to leave and take the dirty bundle away. Then she felt the need to place it on my desk, and not just anywhere on my desk, the top edge – the really good scratching part – landed squarely on my telephone cord. Great! She had to spread the filth to my desk and my phone. Naturally, thirty seconds later, we were done talking and she took it away, but the damage was done. It was a couple of hours before I felt that my cubicle was sufficiently clean again.
The next time you receive paperwork in the mail, think about the person that put it in the envelope; think about what they did with those papers before sending them to you. That’s reality.