I heard the rumor a few weeks ago. The carpets at the office were going to be cleaned. And goodness knows they needed it, with all the unsightly spots and stains. But no good could come from it for me. It meant the invasion of my cubicle.
I found out the date ahead of time, in case there was anything I could do to minimize the damage that would be done. It was scheduled for Friday, this past week. But, once again, the fact that not everything can be anticipated foiled any plans I may have made to reduce the ill effects. I would have moved the objects on my desk as far back as possible to avoid any bumping or brushing by the cleaners, but on top of that, there probably wasn’t much else that I could have done. I already cover my keyboard with cellophane, and I keep a large scarf on my chair to keep a clean surface to lean against. I’m willing to deal with any whispering that may occur because of these eccentricities, but I’m not yet prepared to handle the gossip that would race around the office if I did a mass blanketing of my desktop. And as it turned out, even that couldn’t have protected my desk.
How could I have prepared for what was taking place on Friday when the damage was done on Thursday? Or, technically speaking, it must have happened on Wednesday, and I only discovered it on Thursday morning. For past cleanings, all of the large plastic mats in the cubicles had been taken to a specified spot in the office and stacked. That was difficult in itself. Others had removed them, but at least once, I dragged the unwieldy mat back to my desk myself. The last time (two years ago), I waited for an opportunity when no one was close by, and I put on a pair of gloves for the task. To my chagrin, the cleats on the bottom of the mat tore holes in my gloves. As horrific as that was, it would have been preferable to what I had to deal with Thursday.
When I walked in that morning, my cubicle had already been invaded and the mat moved. Had the mat been hauled off to some corner with the others? No. I had heard the department head say earlier in the week that he didn’t want to stack them, as in previous years, but I didn’t know what he had in mind. The janitor had moved the mat into an upright position and wedged it between my desk and a cubicle wall! There were two walls he could have chosen from, and he chose the one that was more devastating to me. The most personal object against the other wall is a picture cut out of an old calendar. The wall he chose is close to several personal items that I use and touch every day. First, he ruined my current wall calendar. It was completely covered by the mat. For the remainder of the year, I’m going to have to change the page with gloves on. Even worse than contaminating an object, the wall itself is what is traumatic for me. The mat is still, as I write this, resting there millimeters away from the spot where I keep my tissue box, my bottle of hand lotion, a picture frame, and my bottle of rubbing alcohol. Now the wall that I actually touch with my hand as I reach for these objects is utterly filthy.
So here is where the damage is as of this point. The box of tissues had to be thrown out, as did the rubbing alcohol bottle. The bottle of lotion was moved to my shelf designated for dirty items. When I take in a new bottle of lotion, I will pour the contents of the old one into the new when there is room (with gloves on, naturally). The picture frame has not yet been touched, because I don’t know what occurred after I left the office on Friday. I don’t want to have to clean it twice. But what about the wall itself? When we first moved into the building, the fabric on the cubicle walls had been professionally cleaned. That required extensive decontaminating by me because the nozzle on the hose that they use is by no means sanitary. I had to spray with alcohol the walls that I would be coming into contact with several times, and I had to wipe them down, also. I probably did it about eight times. But thinking about what I face on Monday and that nasty mat, eight doesn’t seem like enough. I know that it won’t be accomplished in one day because the alcohol takes time to dry on the fabric.
There was more contamination than just the one wall. The janitor had kindly picked up two pens that had rolled under the desk in some dark corner where I couldn’t see them. He put those on my desk along with a plastic cover that fits over an opening in the desktop. He apparently tossed the plastic cover onto the desk because it traveled to the end of the desk, almost touching the water bottles that I have against the far wall. So, I also had to do extensive cleaning of the desktop in general, including spraying down the water bottles. Absolutely everything felt dirty to me.
I get to look forward to at least an hour of cleaning first thing when I go in on Monday, plus the extended sanitization of the wall fabric. I’m not sure if someone will have moved the mat again or if I will be doing that myself, but I will be doubling up on gloves if I do move it.
I hope this is the end of the story. Unless anything unusual happens, Monday shouldn’t be much different from Thursday. If something unusual does happen, you, Dear Reader, will hear about it.