If you’re reading this, then that means you’ve probably been assigned to this office, the room second from the staircase in either direction, approximately 46 steps from the third-floor women’s restroom, the room with no screens over the windows because they blew off when I left them open over the weekend, room 307.
There’s a lot I want to tell you about this office.
First, I feel like it’s important for you to know that I’ve slept on whatever surface you’re touching. Are you in the middle of the floor? Yeah, I made a nest out of spare coats and old sweaters and slept there at the beginning of my first semester. Are you standing by my old desk? Slept both on it and beneath it, and in both cases, I was listening to Arrested Development on Netflix. The closet? I only used the raised edge of the doorway as a weird pillow, but I think that counts. There’s nowhere you can run that I haven’t dozed, snoozed, or napped upon. I have christened this office with the languid drool of a serial sleeper.
Take a moment and process this information. Get comfortable with the fact that you cannot escape the indelible residue I’ve left on this office. Has the knowledge set in? How are you doing? Feeling alright? How about you take a seat. I suggest the big red chair with the worn wooden armrests and the mysterious red stain running down the leg. Take a seat, and let me tell you about that chair.
Are you relaxing? I know the springs in the seat are old, and there’s a hole where a wise person would put lumbar support, and still there’s that ominous red stain, but it really is the best chair in the office. There’s a short story by HP Lovecraft in which a house slowly considers the many people that have lived inside it over the years. Eventually, some people move into the house, and the house finds them less than reputable, so it collapses on them and kills them. The chair might do that to you. Only time will tell.
I had that chair for two years. I took it from a different desk before any of my office mates ever even found the room. I took that chair because I saw potential, and I used that potential like a child pop star uses their prepubescent helium voice. You might be sitting in a slight indent. That’s my butt. No butt will ever depress the springs quite as mine did. My butt was the butt to define this chair’s existence. You see the claw marks on the armrests? Meetings with students. The really deep gash is from an appointment I had with a student that spent more time and spiteful effort than I have ever put into anything just to argue that his C- was actually a C+. And the red stain? I’m wondering if you’ve noticed it matches the exact hue of red that also stains the left side of the desk, the place one would naturally rest their head if a keyboard was stuck tangled in its own cord in the desk’s center. On that spot I used to slowly bang my head rather than grade or write, and I left a permanent record of my pain.
I spilled this really tasty rosehip hibiscus tea, and that stuff stains for life. It got on the chair too. Really unfortunate, but what can you do. Maybe try steel wool?
Is the printer still on the first floor? Yeah, fuck that. I could kick a hole in a gorilla because of all the times I had to run up and down those weirdly humid stairs.
The desk. Is it still sticky? Sorry about that. I used to have this decanter of honey, but one day the top got stuck in an indestructible layer of crystallized bee goop, and I had to smack it against the side of the desk to get it off. I would have cleaned it, but I was in a hurry. It was late into the second semester of my first year, and I was pretty harried by school and grading. I didn’t really get into the swing of things until late into my last semester here. That’ll probably happen for you too. You’ll always feel like you’re trying to catch up, and then even when everything is done and you’ve found a lull, it’s impossible to convince yourself that you deserve a break. You do. Take a minute. Be careful with the honey.
Have you looked out the window yet? That was my favorite part of this office. We’re on the third floor, so it’s just far enough to feel like you’re some psychopath CEO looking down on the peasantry, but it’s close enough that you can still yell at your friends as they leave the building to go teach next door. Don’t try throwing stuff at them, even if it’s your little rubber duck that you know won’t hurt a car if you miss–and you will–it will still take forever to try to find your ducky, and it’s likely nobody will even realize you threw it. That’s the best and worst thing about that office. It’s in a weird, set aside building, and nobody really notices it, and your students will have trouble finding it, and you’ll have trouble giving directions to the pizza delivery driver, and sometimes you’ll try to find it drunk at night while you wait for a cab, and then you’ll have to leave, and it’ll be hard to decide whether you liked it or not. Your students could never find it, but your students could never find it. The windows were weird, and you’ll worry you might fall out of them one day, but those bent and broken screens stuffed next to the sink make it seem like an adventure. And you’ll be really annoyed that no delivery drivers know where it is, but once they find it, you will take your lukewarm prize upstairs, plop down in a chair that will always be thinking of me, and let the internet lull you to oblivion.
Some other things worth knowing:
That weird black plant stuff embedded in the carpet is tea.
The door will always make that sound.
There’s a tiny hot dog shop about 10 minutes away that is open until 3 am; you’ll need it.
You probably won’t die in there.