Monday, September 21, 2009

Beautiful offices

One time, a couple of weeks ago, I had to visit some administrators at UMBC, I had botched some paperwork. Most of the time, I'm dealing with PhD's who have sparse offices, or maybe they decorate their office with a turbine or a wooden boat. I know one who has a stuffed Taco Bell chihuahua and a Hoberman sphere, and he's one of the healthier professors. The administrators I visited, they're not academics. They're outranked by the professors, and I get the impression that a lot of the professors disregard them or make their jobs harder than they need to be. Even so, they seemed to be very happy, well-adjusted people.

In the office of one, a Mardis Gras mask hung on the wall. The fluorescent lights were off; she had brought in incandescent lamps. The lighting was dim and relaxing, but bright enough to work with. There were neatly organized office supplies, a pleasant little widget that held different paper clips, and so on. On the phone, she'd call colleagues by nicknames, like "Bibs". Light radio was playing; I don't like light radio, but it seemed to make the place seem more relaxing. The desktop wallpaper had a tiled picture of a flower. Family pictures were taped to the wall.

The other administrator I visited, the one who filed the magic form that saved the day, had a quote-a-day calendar sitting on her desk. She also had brought in her own lamp, and turned off the fluorescent lights. Family pictures, framed, sat on the desk. A pendulum clock hung on the wall, facing the desk. There was a painting, or at least, a well-made print of a beautiful painting. Certificates and awards hung on the wall. There was a plant, it might have been fake. A wreath hung on the door.

I was having a very stressful day that day, but these people who helped me, by trying to make their workspaces acknowledge their humanity, helped me feel more human, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment