I thought that I had them trained. The people in my office used to have the horrendous habit of placing all manner of items in my chair, from files to papers to office supplies. Why not put them on my desk? Isn’t that what a desk is for? A chair is for bottoms and nothing else. Is that not logical?
The worst offenders of this wretched practice either left the office or were gradually trained to put items where they belonged. This process was not easy. When someone left an object in my chair, invariably, they would later ask me if I had found it. How could I not? I would politely reply that I had received it, but that they could put it on my desk next time. This frequently fell on deaf ears, as they would do the same thing a short time later. Through persistence and insistence, I finally got through to most of them, but as with any sort of training, there are always some who are a little slow to grasp the concept.
This practice goes way back to my early days on the job. This was occurring so frequently that I was afraid to leave my desk, lest it should happen again. This caused a great amount of distress. In an act of desperation, I start placing a large box lid in my chair every time I left my cubicle, in hopes that it would be a deterrent. Yet I told myself that there would be at least one person who would lift up the lid and put something under it. There are times when I don’t like being right. I stopped using the lid because I left my cubicle often, and it was inconvenient to use a tissue to move it each time. To top it off, a while after I stopped using the lid, the rumor got back to me that someone had said that I must be doing it to cover up a stain on the chair. Chalk up another humiliation to OCD.
Needless to say, it happened this week for the first time in months. The string on my supply folder broke, and I asked for a new one. I stepped away from my desk briefly and came back to find it in my chair. It seemed like a small thing, but it set the tone for the entire day, that being one of anxiety and stress and rituals. I wanted to throw it out, but I knew I would not be able to justify asking for another one. That meant that I had to sanitize the one that was placed in the chair. This meant spreading out several papers to make a bed for the folder so that it would not contaminate my desk, and then spraying the side that had touched the chair eight times. By then, it was the end of the day, but I wanted to spray the other side for good measure. I held up the folder with a baggie while I made a fresh bed of papers for the next side. It was ready and waiting for me when I came in the next morning. That side took most of the day, also.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, I had to spray down my chair because part of it could have been contaminated. I had to allow a half-hour between spray-downs for the chair (mainly my protective scarf) to dry. And I had to wipe down the arms of the chair. What this meant was that I spent the entire day sitting forward in my chair. Not once was I able to lean back and relax.
The one positive thing that I noticed during this lengthy episode was that the co-worker that sits next to me was walking to another cubicle with the folder that holds cards with condolences or congratulations. I have trained her to sign off for me so that I don’t have to touch it. Thank goodness someone has absorbed my lessons!