In my previous job, Clean Off Your Desk Day would have required a weekend’s worth of overtime; I had that much junk on a single slab of wood. Nevertheless, it was the good kind of junk, with each object attached to a memory or having a funny story behind it.
That desk was renowned throughout the building: whilst some couldn’t imagine how I could work in “such a sty”, others stood wide-eyed as they marvelled at the many toys, doohickeys and self-made monstrosities. One of these was a pencil with a woman’s face cut out of the local paper stuck onto the rubber end, which I would then bob up and down along the desk divider to the amusement of my colleague. My vocation is marketing; this is my personal version of blue sky thinking and shifting paradigms.
In my final couple of weeks I cleared the area of all unneeded items, including numerous crisp wrappers that had been folded into tiny triangles, and a pair of tatty Converse All Stars that I’d been meaning to throw away for months but had instead left in the filing drawer. Then of course there were a few hundred things that could be binned because I should never have kept them in the first place, such as documents, contracts and invoices (what a waste of paper!).
The toys were put aside into a tray [above] so that I could distribute them to friends on my last day. These ranged from wind-up teeth that were missing their winder, to a SpongeBob whoopee cushion, all of which were very happily received by their beneficiaries.
In my current job, on the other hand, we keep our desks much tidier. Mine is by no means shipshape, but if a contest were held between my current desk and my old one, well, let’s just say I don’t have Christmas decorations, Snakes and Ladders and gigantic fabric squid tentacles next to my feet these days (I worked in a theatre; sometimes things got weird).
Still, I had to do something today, so I recycled old notes and popped pens into their holder; then I scrubbed the tea rings out of my mug and finally wiped that tomato sauce off the monitor. Unfortunately it just wasn’t as satisfying as that big cleanout last year when I changed jobs, but then how can it compete to passing on a highly characteristic polystyrene head to its new owner? That kind of spring cleaning is in a league of its own.