Okay, here’s the deal.
I have been called a perfectionist, a fairly over-zealous housekeeper, and an over-thinker.
While this is sometimes undervalued in the kid-raising environment, I understood it to be a bonus in the work environment. That place called a “real job in the real world”, the place that looks for buzzwords like “organized” on a resume.
“How would you describe yourself?” asked one of the three women who interviewed me.
“Flexible,” I replied, pleased to see the trap and avoid it.
Flexible covers all the bases.
“Um,” suggested another interviewer, “Would you say you were organized?”
I hung my head a little. How did they find out?
“Well,” I admitted, “I am organized,” I glanced up apologetically, “but…it’s just so not sexy, you know?”
Two things happened in that room that day.
I flubbed the world’s worst interview in the history of all interviews.
And they knew exactly who they were about to hire. Not my fault.
Six months down the road, I am standing at the copy machine showing it who’s boss (you get your perks where you find them) and I realize I’m standing in a glorified closet that hasn’t been cleaned since carbon paper was an actual thing.
As you know, I am equally interested in processing purchase requisitions and dusting for cobwebs.
I’m a multi-faceted individual.
I cleaned out the closet before the copy machine was done whining about life, and pleased as punch with the transformation, went about the rest of my professional day. Pinkies up.
You’re welcome, world.
Two days later, our supervisor huffs into the room, “Who took my tray?”
We glanced up from our keyboards, mid-thought.
“In the back closet,” she continued, “I kept a tray of stuff back there so I wouldn’t have to carry it all with me every time I make copies.”
I slunk a little lower in my seat.
“I tidied up the closet the other day,” I admitted, “but I don’t remember any tray.”
She walked over and looked at me, “It was just a small tray of random things. It had my stamps, some paper clips, a couple of…..”
In my mind I saw it, sitting on one of the shelves, a pile of junk surrounded by flotsam and jetsam from years of neglect.
The look on my face was the same one used when Hubby approaches me and asks who cleaned the garage – the dumpster where tools and wires are discarded after a job half-done – and I know full well that telling him his tools are actually back in the toolbox on a tidy shelf will only make him madder.
Her words echoed his: “Don’t tidy any more closets. I need to be able to find things.”
She walked back into her office as I made eye contact with my coworker.
“But there’s a nice little container of all that stuff sitting tidily right beside the copy machine now.”
We shrugged and went back to typing.
I did, however, go after my own files with gusto. I approached each pile of papers like an archaeologist, prepared to find both treasure and trash, and excited to discover which might be which.
You can’t always tell (ahem).
The ladies who had gone before me each left their mark, passing on nuggets of valuable information, email chains that hashed out a big question so that I would not have to, ten years down the road. I appreciate their efforts to blaze the trail for those who may follow, even if the trail goes in circles or directly off cliffs.
They left me sticks of gum and rubber thumb thingys that have nubbins on them.
And also, they left me this.
Not only do I salute the Captain Obvious who put this together in what must have been a time of crisis (I remember that year), but I am delighted to admit that I am, by very definition, the guy who makes this list relevant in 2017.
My girlfriends know exactly what I’m talking about.