I’ve been restored to my full power. Like that part in all superhero movies when lost abilities are regained when the hero proves that they’re heroic for more than their superhuman abilities, my awesome power has been given back to me. And by that I mean my old office was returned to me now that the Summer is over. It’s nice to have my command center back. I dearly missed the keyboard with the weirdly grimy keys and the mouse that sticks to my desk and the desk itself which is actually more of a table because it hasn’t got any drawers. Nothing has been cleaned since I left. The hibiscus tea stain is still there so I can keep telling students it’s blood from a kid who thought they could plagiarize and get away with it with all their fingers. The empty package of staples is still on the floor. It’s right where I left it: under one of my officemates’ desks because I kicked it there when I didn’t want to pick it up. The fridge even reeks of the same food someone else left in the mini fridge, and it’s disgusting in a welcoming sort of away.
But one thing has changed. There’s a new desk and computer. Or, not so much a new desk as it is a table we used to put backpacks on that has apparently been repurposed as a tiny desk next to our sink. This office was originally a dorm room meant for 2 people, and I’m sharing it with 4 other teachers. There’s going to be some space issues. So here I am reclaiming my desk before anyone else can take theirs, and I have one question on my mind, a question that has inspired kings to build walls and nations to battle and cats to swat at each other while yelling horribly: how to I keep my territory?
This is the start of my second year in this office, and it is the second year that I’ve gotten in before anyone else has claimed a desk. Last year, I used that to my advantage and stole the best chair, and I also did some clever maneuvering with the other desks to ensure I had just a little more room than everyone else. That sounds unfair because unfair is exactly what it is. However, my justification for such a petty move is that I’ve always been in the office more than anyone else, and I bring my students here the most. If you understand how time works, you may note that I could only have known those things long after my petty maneuvering happened. My response to this is that maybe I’m a bit of a petty person, or maybe I had a psychic premonition. Nobody can prove which one is true.
Now that I know how much time I spend in the office, and how often I entertain students, I’m am left with the issue of keeping the space I so unfairly won, but it’s ok. I have an idea.
I’m American, and lately that seems to mean that I have a fetish for a well-maintained border, so my country dictates that my first impulse to keep space I’ve stolen from other people is to wall it off. I don’t quite have the budget of the United States though–and I highly doubt my officemates would pay for it because that’s just a stupid thing to assume–so I’ll have to hit the DIY parts of the internet. I’m certain Pinterest must have a board for building your own wall out of office supplies. I can see it now: a single, unbroken facade of bulletin boards, a gateway of metal yard sticks, and ramparts of sharpened pencils. Beautiful.
I know it might seem unfair to sequester myself away in space I’ve unjustly taken, but it’s for the greater good which is like a catch-all excuse for doing terrible things. And yes, I know building a wall in my office will likely send a rather aggressive message to the people I share this room with, but if they want to think office diplomacy is over just because I’ve put a massive barrier between them and me, then that’s fine. It’s not my fault they’re perfectly interpreting the message I’m sending.