I have been very careful to keep Work out of the blog spotlight, lest I find myself among those numbers they quote when the talking heads discuss “new unemployment claims” and “jobs cut” each month.  I shall still attempt to be anonymous and generic and cull that self-preservation instinct which has been gradually developing since the days of my early 20s when I would often go for 4 mile walks by myself at twilight in the shoulders of not-quite-highways.  Mr. Apron has helped me see danger everywhere.  I even asked for a Club for my car when I had my first practicum in a North Philadelphia public school.  And used it, too.

But after last Friday’s events, I’ve been stewing and I have decided to spill, as I am able.  It all began back in August.  Cue the harp strings in arpeggiated descent.  We were at last hiring new staff members after being short critical members of our office.  And, as the new person would be in the office 4 days a week, to my 2 days, she would be getting my primo real estate desk.  The official story was that she would benefit from the comradeship of a woman in the same office who shared the same job title and could offer mentorship.  It seemed an open-and-shut case.  Her needs trumped mine, but I would be getting a brand-new desk and shelves (!!!) on which to store my crap.  Then, a week before the “move” I got an e-mail telling me to put my plans into a holding pattern, that something else was coming down the pipeline.  Seems someone else wanted my new desk.  She, having, I guess, seniority, and also being in the office 5 days a week, got my new spot, someone else took hers, and I was crammed into the vacated corner desk.  I went from 4 filing cabinet drawers to 1 plus a drawer for pens and post-its.  Menial stuff, right?  I could manage.  Right?  I settled in, telling myself all the above statements calmly, rationally, and tried to work. 

Two weeks later, I was informed I would be moved again, this time to accommodate a 5 day a week-er, another new addition to the staff.  The more, the merrier!  Finally we were full enough to serve the children, yet a little short on space.  Needless to say, she was given my desk, such as it was. 

The great part is, the situation was presented to me as a “What ought we to do?” conundrum, not as a done deal.  As if I had some say in the matter, that my creative brainstorming might lend me a greater outcome than some company mandate.  I tried to be rational again; I tried to think over the options.  In truth, I am only in that office 2 afternoons a week, for a total of 5 hours.  For 5 hours, I can be nomadic if need be.  Right?  For 5 hours I can do my paperwork on the conference/lunch table, and store my files in some filing cabinet shoved in a corner.  I’m only there 2 afternoons.  I don’t have any seniority, or any say in the matter anyway.  But it all looked like my choice when I suggested I hang my shingle on the small piece of counter in the back office.  Besides, the other “option” offered to me was to work on the extra rickety computer terminal “desk” that had been relegated to a corner of the conference room.  So I prepared to move yet again, to a space I affectionately refer to as “my slab”. 

 Again, it would seem as though I were handling it like a champ, telling everyone how okay I was with it all, being so flexible and accommodating and understanding of all these logical events.  Except that I was going through some intense personal/health issues back in September, and overreacted in line with crazy woman hormonal insanity. When I heard this (or, as it would seem, when I “decided” this), I immediately broke down into tears.   Because that’s a normal reaction for being told to move your desk.   

I miss the nice community I had in my space last year.  I miss those people I used to sit and kibbitz with.  I miss how we each talked to ourselves simultaneously.  And I miss that mentorship I had with the other speech therapist in that office, because learning from someone more experienced really is important.  I had prepared to develop something similar in my new office, except that two weeks later I was on the road again. 

It’s hard enough to be an itinerant speech therapist while seeing children.  It’s harder still to feel itinerant in the office.  I’ve been stationed at my slab now for 3 months and I still can’t work back there, in the darkest corner of the smallest, darkest space.  I bring my paperwork out to the conference room.  I almost physically can’t pull my chair out enough to sit at my slab without bumping into another coworker.  And it makes me sad.  I want to feel comfortable there, comfortable to bring in a picture of my husband and dog, comfortable to bring in my own tacky mug to hold pens, but there’s no physical space for those creature comforts.  

Last Friday, another “It’s your choice” moment was presented to me.  As if the office weren’t fairly bursting with new faces and improvised workspaces, yet another coworker has been added to our ranks.  Another speech therapist who will be there 2 afternoons a week, just like me.  And.  She.  Will.  Be.  Sharing. My.  Slab. 

Because we won’t be there on the same afternoons, wouldn’t it just make so much sense for me to share it?  My response to the “offer”: If she really wants to.  If she really wants to start a new job fresh out of school being relegated to sharing a small area of countertop and being given one measly file drawer (yup – lost the one for pens and post-its) with me, I would be more than happy to do so. 

I’m very happy to see so many faces in the office.  The overall workplace feeling is very supportive and productive during those couple of hours we’re all at “homebase”.  The kids we try to serve will finally be getting all the services they need, and we’ll be providing good therapy by knowledgeable clinicians.  I’m just feeling a little slighted, and a little tired of taking one for the team. 

Though I know it’s going to look great on my yearly performance review.  

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