Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Paper Trails and Trials

I read in the August issue of Real Simple magazine that 83% of human-resource managers feel that the state of an employee's office affects their perception of his/her's professionalism. I think that's trite, but since I heard once that it takes about 10 seconds for someone to size you up before forming an opinion, I guess it's not that surprising.

I knew someone who was fired for her disheveled office. J was a good friend and a solid (though slow-working) graphic artist. She was creative and hard-working. Incidentally, she was also a hoarder. You couldn't walk in her house easily, and even then, in a single-file path, as 'things' were stacked from floor to ceiling. She had two metal racks full of costumes in her dining room, for some reason never fully explained when I asked. You couldn't see the furniture for the junk. She also had a crammed-to-the brim storage unit, and she had a layaway tag on so many items in antique stores in the state that a fellow worker and I used to joke to one another about how we knew it was 'J' before we turned a tag over on an item we wanted.

This was before the TV shows on hoarders, so we didn't know quite how (or if) we should approach the issue. I felt as long as she wasn't affecting anybody and it didn't interfere with her work, it wasn't our place to intervene, other than to let her know we'd help should she want to have a garage sale (!) I went as far as to suggest we might team up to tackle each other's houses for any 'daunting' cleaning projects or painting chores, but she didn't seem interested. I let it go. Unfortunately, our bosses didn't feel that way. I heard raised voices one afternoon and our 'head' boss from DC was loudly inquiring how he was supposed to walk into her office without stepping on 'something important,' and that she 'couldn't possibly be efficient and organized in a mess like this.'

I tried to talk with her a few times after that to let her know people were talking, and whether or not I could help her organize. She insisted everything had to stay in place and everything was necessary for work, despite my picking through stuff like 4 rough drafts of edited papers that had long been published...

Well, you know where this is going...she was fired after being put on probation a few months. She went back to school and is in a totally new career and much happier. Sadly we don't get together too often anymore, and when we do we go to a restaurant. So I haven't seen the inside of her house.

Every time I sigh over the 'trail' Excy leaves throughout the house, I remember J and don't feel quite as bad. But I have had to 'surrender' the library over to Be (his dad's) paper until he gets all the mess sorted out. He's promised to let me have a bonfire this fall.

15 comments:

Ms. A said...

I'm going to remain very quite about this subject. If I get too rowdy, everything might come crashing down.

injaynesworld said...

I am so enjoying getting rid of 40 years worth of crap I've kept for some unknown and ungodly reason. Moving to a small place is the best thing I could do. I'm sorry about your friend. I can't even watch those shows.

injaynesworld said...

I am so enjoying getting rid of 40 years worth of crap I've kept for some unknown and ungodly reason. Moving to a small place is the best thing I could do. I'm sorry about your friend. I can't even watch those shows.

Eternally Distracted said...

I am sitting looking around my office at various people's desks and it's true that their homes reflect the state that their desks are in... Mine is empty and filled with striaght lines, but then I have OCD!! :)

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I'm too anal to be like this but it's like the same disease only 180 degree turn. I have family who are this close to being a full fledge hoarder. It makes me uncomfortable as much as i imagine they are with order and neatness. Because of that I can't watch hoarders. my hubby has and I have to leave the room it makes me so uneasy.
I notice EVERYTHING and that sometimes is as bad as being a hoarder. If my towel is askew I know someone was in my house. Hubby laughed but we found out someone was. So it has it's good and bad moments. I admit as I have aged it has relaxed. And after I got a dog there was no way I could have that perfect floor or no hair anywhere all the time.

Brian said...

Hmmmmmmm, me too, I've got some cleaning out to do!

ReformingGeek said...

I have a need for order and space so, fortunately, being a hoarder doesn't work for me.

That's too bad about your friend but it does show that clutter can add stress to those around you.

Chris said...

This too, shall pass, I suppose. When I was a student worker in the IT department I had occasion to visit a few professors' offices that looked like what you describe. I wonder sometimes if anyone ever intervened in their hoarding.

"Alone again.... naturally!" said...

It seems to be a huge problem these days, or is it that we just never talked about it. I used to have what we called an "eccentric" aunt, but her hoarding was neat and tidy...trunks of stuff she would never use or need. It's sad really, all the broken people out there.

Retired English Teacher said...

I had a colleague who is still teaching who has this problem. Her house is a disaster, and so is her classroom. Her classroom was once full, but organized, but then it all started to spill out into the library. She took over a corner of the school library. It turns out she had things hoarded away in empty cabinets all over the school. Finally, the school librarian confronted her and made her get the stuff out of the library.

I'm not sure she realizes she has a problem. I worry about her house. It is becoming quite unlivable.

Belle said...

I have been in the house of a hoarder and there was nowhere to sit down. Everything in the house was covered by newspapers and magazines. It is sad. Well, I am glad your co-worker is in a new job and is happier. :)

Peruby said...

My daughter has threatened to put me on the hoarder show, but after watching the show I just shake my head. I'm not that bad! You CAN see my floors! Just not my table. :)

e said...

I can't deal with too much strewn about...I'm a neat and tidy with everything in its place person...

I also try not to acquire stuff, and if something comes in, something else eventually goes out.

Are you feeling better?

Traci said...

Omg my husband is so sweet but unorganized and sometimes it's overwhelming to me. I was watching Nate Birkus yesterday and he said (how accurate this is, I don't know) that 4 out of 5 couples argue about cleaning. Crap! That's our biggest arguement. My biggest issue is I don't want to accept my husband as messy and a hoarder.

privacy freak said...

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