Office Space

While my current job is not my first, it is the one that I consider the real start of my career. Since I joined, I’ve switched three places, teams and bosses these past three years. With each shift I’ve replicated the space around me.

First, my phone with its cord unknotted (I religiously unravel it every morning) and a funny scribble stuck on it with a post-it. Next to it, is a scribble pad to jot down numbers, notes and messages. This is flanked by a neon green plastic case that once contained a gift watch that my friend received. I retrieved the case along with its matching neon green cushion. Under that cushion is a secret stash of chewing gums and boiled toffees. I lost my taste for confectionary sometime back but some of my close work pals haven’t. I keep it well-stocked for them (the way I’d keep my refrigerator full for friends and family who’d decide to drop in).

There’s also a stuffed birdie sitting on the cubicle wall, a beanie owl with a graduation cap (or sometimes a green dinosaur with red spikes alternated by a beanie Hunchback of Notre-Dame) somewhere in grabbable distance. These are for those ARRRGGH! moments when I can’t get a hug so settle for clenching a stuffed toy instead. And finally my visiting card (for referring to postal address) clipped to a porcelain cow (which I first thought was a piggy, its mouth was so snouty!).


My papers neatly stacked at the end of the day on the other side of the screen, next to my calendar. Three different neon coloured highlighters are lined up under the screen and put away at the end of the day, away from careless (and light-fingered) people. A post-it affixed to the corner of my screen says ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish’. A jacket hangs on the back of my chair, sometimes alternated by a sweater.

I spend most of my waking day here. My workspace says that this who I am. Colourful, quirky and compulsively tidy.

Last year, I moved again. A new division, a different role, which started as a temporary stint but extended out into a larger arrangement. I now have a cabin of my own. It took my three hours to pack up everything from my earlier desk but all of 15 minutes to set up again. I put down very little in this new space since I had no idea how long I would be staying.

Pulling out your roots is so difficult (not to mention heart-wrenching) that I subconsciously decided not to put down roots again.

Now, my desk is bare. Even my new computer’s packaging has been retained and hangs dustguard curtain-like over the top to be flipped over each morning and back on at the end of the day. The minute I switch my monitor off and shut the door, any sign of life is gone and all it is, is an empty room. So this office is cold, Spartan and impersonal. There’s nothing to show that I sit here, work here, live here for the better part of my life.

I guess home is so much about how much of yourself you put into the space around you. I’ve put nothing in and hence I’ve been a nomad for seven months. Enough on the road now. Next month I’ll move again. This time I’ll take my owl beanie along and maybe I’ll carry a potted plant to keep me company and my room alive when I’m not there.


* This post comes from a conversation with a lovely stranger-friend. It is also my first contribution to her brilliant idea of Dsplaced.

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