Neil Offen: Cleaning up a desk job
By the size of the rings around its trunk, I estimated the granola bar as dating from the late 18th century. The ingredients, though, were written in olde English on the wrapper, so it may have been older. Also Englisher.
It was in my desk, all the way in the back, growing tentacles. I found it right next to the Daffy Duck Pez dispenser. For those of you who don’t know what a Pez dispenser is, neither do I. But I had three of them.
The good news was that there were no more Pezzes left in the Pez dispenser that was in the top left drawer. The Pezzes, it turns out, were all in the bottom right drawer, scattered next to the carefully curated collection of pistachio shells.
The pistachio shells were red, like they had been in early America, when they were grown as an alternative to medium-hot salsa, which hadn’t been invented yet.
Yes, I was trying to clean out my desk. It’s something I do every decade or so, whether I need it or not. I needed it.
Cleaning out your desk tells you a lot of things about yourself, most of which you don’t want to know. It’s an insight into your soul, particularly if your soul has 19 old gas station receipts. Cleaning out your desk gives you an awareness of where you’ve been and where you are going and if you might need several dozen plastic forks when you get there.
So what did my desk tell me about myself? It mainly told me that if plastic bag futures ever started to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange, I’d be rich, since I clearly had covered the market. Also that I liked Pezzes a lot. And that I had a deep psychological fear, dating from childhood, of a napkin drought, since I had accumulated napkins from restaurants that went out of business during the McKinley presidency.
I also had kept four tablets of acetaminophen (extra strength, but only if they don’t have dust on them), three lozenges (from the 2002 vintage, a very good year) and two teabags. Fortunately, the lozenges were stuck to the teabags so they took up less room, giving my desk more room for the instruction manuals I had saved on how to operate an 8-track tape player, just in case they come back again.
I had lots of papers, too, crammed into the desk, in honor of the paperless office. They included sticky notes that no longer had their sticky but did have phone numbers of people I no longer knew. There were business cards of businesses that had folded and folded cards of businesses that were offering me 20 percent off if I knew what they were actually selling.
And there were several reminder notes I had written to myself. They all said clean out your desk.
Neil Offen can be reached at email@example.com.