January 2, 2001
Life Without Doors


Miraculously, my little office was still there -- right where I left it -- when I returned to the Totem Pole Company this morning.

"Wow!" said the Optimistic, Always-Hopeful Angel sitting on my right shoulder. "Maybe they aren't gonna move you downstairs after all, Secra!"

I'd halfway expected to get to work this morning and discover that they'd moved me, lock, stock and filing cabinets, to that stoopid downstairs cubicle while I was safely out of town for a few days. Even though Franz promised me, right before I left for TicTac, that they wouldn't move my office until I returned from vacation, I know that his "promises" generally aren't worth the voicemail they're written on. So it was a surprise -- and a relief -- to unlock my door and find things relatively untouched.

All of my personal stuff is gone, of course. I brought it all home with me, the day I left on vacation. No more TotPhotos pinned to the bulletin board. No more goofy postcards of David. No more wind-up chicken, pecking at the top of my computer monitor. No more World's Cutest Nephew coffee mug. It has been stripped down to basics: your generic, plain vanilla admin office.

But it is MY plain vanilla admin office. And I love it unreasonably.

"Wow!" said the Practical, Always Forward-Thinking Angel sitting on my right shoulder. "Maybe now you really CAN hang on until your two-year Totem Pole anniversary, Secra!" I would still love to have those two years of Executive Assitude on my résumé. At this point I'm only a few months shy of my goal. As long as they're not going to do anything stoopid -- like making me quarterback on the Totem Pole Company basketball team, for instance ... or moving me downstairs to a fudking cubicle -- I might be able to tolerate it here another handful of weeks.


It was a typical first-day-back-from-vacation... a long, dull, moving-in-slow-motion, caffeine-intensive Walking Coma. I spent most of the morning sifting through eight bazillion metric tons' worth of unread mail, faxes, e-mail and voicemail messages. I've got a brand-new head cold ... and I appear to have bypassed the 72 Hours From Hell completely this month and gone straight into Slow Leak Mode (although I'm not complaining) ... and I'm feeling lethargic and backachey and crabby. But it wasn't that bad. I stayed busy. Co-workers stopped by to say hello, and to look at Christmas photos of the Tots, and to gawk admiringly at the engagement ring. Franz was mercifully AWOL for most of the morning, and when he finally showed up shortly after lunch he went immediately into closed-door meetings. My only contact with him, basically, was when he gave me a belated Christmas present, a gift bag of coffee and biscotti. The gift card attached to the bag was written in Mrs. Franz' hand.

Later in the afternoon, the Human Resources Director Person stopped by to visit. We chit-chatted pleasantly for a few minutes, exchanging Christmas stories and giggly anecdotes about the temp. ("She was a basket case by Friday," said the HRDP.)

"By the way," I said finally, as a faux afterthought. "What's the latest scoop on the big move?"

"A week from tomorrow," she said. "They move the phones and computers on Wednesday, and the furniture on Thursday."

My heart sank.

"But you won't be moving into a cubicle," she added quickly, clearly alarmed by the expression on my face. "We've decided to put you at the reception desk downstairs, instead." And she beamed at me hopefully.

The reception desk.

They're moving me downstairs to the reception desk.

The big, wide-open desk that visitors/co-workers/annoying salesmen/grumpy UPS guys see first thing as they walk into the first floor office. The big, wide-open desk located plunk in the middle of everything. The big, wide-open desk with no walls ... no windows ... no desktop space to speak of ...

... and no doors.

No door to close when I'm reading credit card numbers over the phone. No door to close when I need to meet with someone privately. No door to close when I want to eat a quick sandwich at my desk, or read a library book for fifteen minutes between conference calls, or squirt half a bottle of Vicks Sinex Ultra Fine Mist up my nose without an audience. No door to close when I need to concentrate. No door to close when my impossible little maniac of a boss has reduced me to tears, once again, and I need a couple of minutes to compose myself.

I'm the Executive Assistant to the president of the company, and I'm being sent back to the reception desk ... with absolutely nothing between me and Franz but a potted dwarf schleffera.

I thought I couldn't live without a window. I don't know how I'm going to live without a door.

"Sure you don't want to re-think that resignation letter, Secra?" asked the Sad, Smart, Always-Prepared-For-The-Worst Angel sitting on my left shoulder. "I think you saved a copy of it on that floppy disk in your purse."

This time I was way ahead of her.

throw a rock