Monday, January 12, 2009

The Office

© 2008 Leighann Lord

The New Year is a time to start fresh. For most people this means making resolutions, for me it's cleaning. I'm not a neat freak, but let's just say I'm way more Felix Unger than I am Oscar Madison. I fold my underwear, and sort my wardrobe by season, color and style. I watch TV cleaning shows like other people watch porno. Non-judgmental strangers with organization and carpentry skills who show up and help you clutter control a room in your house for free? I'm sorry, but that's hot!

I pride myself on being tidy and organized but the room I can't seem to get a handle on is my home office. It's a constant battle and The Office usually wins. Office is actually a generous term. It's a very small space barely big enough for one, but currently accommodating two. My husband and I manage to run multiple businesses out of a tiny space that wouldn't even make a decent closet, Sometimes I get so frustrated I just want to leave it all behind. Find a nice empty office with a view and start over.

Every New Year I vow, "This is it! I'm gonna get serious about The Office." And The Office says, "Bring it on, Baby!" The mountainous piles seem to grow even larger, moving and shifting of their own accord.

This year I found bank statements for banks that disappeared two mergers ago; complete with checkbooks, deposit slips and ATM cards. Conventional financial wisdom says you have to keep bank records for at least 10 years, but nobody tells you how or where. Are off-site storage costs tax deductible? Can I put that on my Schedule C?

I found old pager bills for god's sake. A pager. Egads! When's the last time anyone owned a pager? That is so last century.

Over the course of my office organizing crusade, I've managed to kill three shredders. I'm on my fourth: a lovely large basket, 12-sheet, diamond cross cut shredder. Sweet. I dream of having an industrial strength, Pentagon-quality shredder one day. The kind that makes top secret government documents disappear. Page count, staples and paper clips are irrelevant. Just throw in as much as you can carry and strain to hear the whisper quiet purr of the engine. In this fantasy, the shredder has it's own room.

I've lost important things in The Office, like $200 worth of American Airlines travel vouchers. I eventually found them a month after they'd expired. I misplaced cards I bought for my mother's birthday. I later found them in an irregularly used handbag, but I still blame The Office. Why? Because eventually everything ends up in the office, whether I've put it there or not.

I suspect The Office has it's own gravitational pull with a particular taste for mail. In The Office, one piece of mail becomes five. No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to open and shred it fast enough. Excavating a recent pile of mail revealed Christmas cards from the previous year.

As I began opening the cards my mood brightened. It was nice to get a little unexpected out of season Christmas cheer. In addition to sweet hand written notes, well wishes and family photos, was a $25 Starbucks Gift Card! I think The Office was trying to make up for the airline tickets. As I sip on a hot Caramel Macchiato, apology accepted.

Thank you for reading The Urban Erma.

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