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AFEW WEEKS AGO, I moved to a new desk at the office.
I'd been at my old cubicle for approximately six years, which means I hadn't cleaned that cubicle in approximately six years.
I thought about just torching the place and starting anew, but HR frowns on that.
So I pulled the necessary permits and launched a full-scale excavation, figuring anything I found that wasn't needed in my new workspace could be passed off as a Christmas gift.
I was hoping to find a long-lost Monet
I keep dog treats on my desk at all times for two reasons. One, you never know when a dog will stop by to lift your spirits, and while dogs enjoy a good belly rub, what they really want is imitation bacon and you'd better deliver. Two, sometimes the candy jar on my desk runs dry, and a bag of Beggin' Strips buys me a day or two to refill it before the masses launch a full-scale rebellion.
I found the original box of business cards I received upon coming to work for the Free Lance-Star 11 years ago. It's in mint condition and still nearly full. This is because every single day, almost without exception, I have forgotten to actually take the cards with me when I've left the office (probably because they were buried beneath the dog treats). If you need business cards and you're not picky about whose contact information is on them, I can offer you a great deal.
This book arrived in the mail last year before promptly being buried beneath a stack of notebooks. It's about a cat that lives in Japan and, from what I can gather, likes to squeeze itself into tight spaces--like cardboard boxes, grocery bags and tube socks--and then poke its excruciatingly adorable head out of a tiny opening while someone takes a photo. This skill has earned Maru nearly 93,000 "likes" on Facebook. I'm clearly in the wrong line of work.
When the network goes down and the office copy machine jams, that's clearly a job for Strawberry Shortcake, Burger King and a naked baby riding an alligator. Most of the action figures on my desk arrived courtesy of Colter and Griffin Smalley, who have been sharing their toys with me since they were toddlers. These are just a few of the gifts they've bestowed upon me over the years. I'm especially partial to Rufus the naked mole rat who squeaks when you tap his sombrero. (Incidentally, this is unique to Rufus. It is NOT, as it turns out, what happens when you tap a sombrero occupied by a person.)
According to a sign in the newsroom, we've managed to work four whole days without anyone suffering a debilitating paper cut. This is actually very impressive given the amount of paper we handle around here--and the hazardous state of desks like mine. To guard against the kind of career-ending injuries that can result from slicing one's fingers open against the steely edge of a reporter's notebook or recklessly handling a ballpoint pen, I keep a stash of first-aid supplies on hand at all times. They also come in handy if the dog treats fail to prevent any candy-jar-related bloodletting.
In a busy newsroom on deadline, you have to be ready for anything. So on the off chance that a raging slice of meatloaf should come at me, I am armed with no fewer than 14 plastic forks, eight spoons, five knives and one vintage spork. I have also cornered the market on salt and pepper packets and dipping sauces because once subdued, that meatloaf will surely need some seasoning. And if that meatloaf should slip through my fingers, I can always employ one of the two dozen restaurant menus I found stuffed in the back of my top drawer.
Try as I might, I cannot figure out why I have this. Based on the title and cover illustration, I'm guessing it's about a charming young woman who grows to be such a colossal pillar of the community that a regular-size mirror isn't big enough to contain her legendary image, so she is forced to buy one that is at least 7 feet tall. Also, she appears to be part of a knife-wielding hair stylist movement.
These are standard issue at The Free Lance-Star, like staplers, tape dispensers and business cards. This one is especially classy: If you squeeze it, a gooey egg oozes out of its bottom. Over the years, it's had an on-again, off-again relationship with another longtime resident of my desk: a pink rubber ducky that, oddly enough, arrived in the mail with a romance novel about a long line of broad-chested, well-oiled men who kept suffering bird-related deaths. I think it was called "Terrible, Horrible Book."
This was submitted to the newspaper about 10 years ago by an 8-year-old named Nicholas, and as far as I'm concerned, it's the best story ever written. Concise, accurate, perfect subject-verb agreement. When this kid wins a Pulitzer, I'll have a first edition. It's basically my retirement plan.
I have no idea what these things are. I was hoping they were Chinese throwing stars, but I winged one at a co-worker, and it just bounced off the back of his head onto the floor. Very unsatisfying. If you can identify them correctly, you can have them. Otherwise, I plan to use them as stocking stuffers.
Edie Gross: 540/374-5428