Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sayonara kid, have a nice day

I cleaned out my work desk yesterday for the delivery of a new one. I know what you’re thinking, ‘how empty is this guy’s life that he’s writing about getting a new desk?’ You’re the one reading about it, so I suppose you could tell me. Et tu Brute.

The desk was in the office I first worked in when I arrived from Germany in the fall of 1991 when I wasn’t sure of where I lived (let me clarify: I knew it was
Norwich; I just didn’t know the name for the city). I told people I lived in Norwalk because I'd heard of that place, an answer that got some stares and glares when, in response to ‘how long does it take you to get here?’ I’d answer ‘about twenty minutes.’ That answer always got me the rejoinder, that 'well, take it easy-w don't have the autobahn around here.' (like anyone could mistake two lanes of I-95 North and South for the A3 nach Koln.)

At the time, I couldn’t understand the looks of incredulity as people offered me that advice. I’ve since become inured to them. Point in fact for about two weeks, I couldn’t find the house I lived in at night, because I got lost. I kept that to myself since I didn't think that had anything to do with how fast I was going.

The desk was, aside from me, the oldest thing in the office and as the years went by, it filled with the detritus of the decade-long daily grind. Actually, I just remembered that wasn't true-the computer on the desk was the oldest thing (third oldest to be honest) and was a 286 something or other with,
wait for it, Windows 1.0. No lie.

In the various drawers, I found foolscap with notes and names of people from a decade and a half ago with cryptic additional information that may have once had value but is now long lost and gone. Clearing out a bottom drawer I surprised myself with two framed photos of my children from ‘back in the day’ when they were very much children in primary grades at school and these were the portraits that were done on Picture Day. I hadn’t realized how much I missed those kids until I saw them again and smiled because I’d put the portraits away for safe-keeping, so safe I’d lost sight of them. I took them home so my wife could preserve them as I can't even do that right.

Digging through another drawer, in theory to clear it out, but actually to dump its contents into a container while the old desk goes away and the new desk is moved in. Then the contents of the container will be emptied into the new desk drawer for the remainder of this century or longer and we go round and round and round in the circle game. On a small piece of paper, neatly cut out from the return corner of an envelope, I found the address of my Mom’s brother, Uncle Jim, whom we buried two years ago. It stung to realize I’ve been so self-absorbed that staring at it might have been my first time thinking about him since his passing.

New things are nice-in moderation. I have a new office and with it came some new responsibilities and I appreciate greatly the concern the people I work for have for me in going out and getting ergonomically spiffy (I don't think that's the actual term,but could be) furnishings to perhaps encourage me to continue to work for them. Like so many across this country, in light of crash and burns in a number of retirement plan investments, I'm now signed up for WUD, so no worries. And I have no life (free will decision, mine) so having a new and empty desk drawer to put the memories in is only necessary if you make some. Otherwise, I'll be keeping my pencil case there.
-bill kenny

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