A Recarpeting Realization

Our firm is being recarpeted.  Somewhere, someone decided that our old, bland office carpeting needs to be replaced by new, bland office carpeting. It’s being done overnight, office by office and floor by floor.

This means that all of the furniture in each office must be moved out so new carpet can be laid down.  More importantly — from the standpoint of the officeholder, anyway — it also means that every book, picture frame, desk toy, and scrap of paper that has been resting comfortably atop every desk, credenza, chair, and table also must be moved out.  Last night was my recarpeting night, so I’ve been in the box-up zone for the last few days.

A few observations from this experience:  First, dust is an amazing thing.  Once you start exposing hard-to-reach areas, you realize how much dust there is in the world.  Where does it come from?  If we didn’t have a nightly cleaning crew, everything in my office would be covered by an inches-thick layer of dust.

Second, how much of the stuff in your office do you even use?  I have shelves and a credenza lined with books.  In the pack-up period, I saw books, like my law books from school, that were dust-covered and adhered to each other, cover to cover, because they hadn’t been moved or opened in years.  I obviously don’t need them and — unlike photos of Kish and the boys — they don’t add much to the office atmosphere.  They once seemed solid and impressive with their solemn, thick covers; now it seems silly to keep them around.

In short, you don’t realize how much debris you’ve accumulated until you have to move it — and then you wonder why in the world you have it in the first place.

The Faithful Mug

Those of us who work in a white-collar office inevitably accumulate office paraphernalia.  We are allocated a cubicle, an office, or some other bland, generic space, and we bring in photos, artwork, and other items to personalize the otherwise depersonalized spaces.  And we end up forming attachments to some of those items — so much so that we cannot imagine what it would be like to be at work without them nearby.

The faithful Lauffer stoneware mug

So it is with my coffee mug.  It is a piece of light grey stoneware, with bold blue and brown horizontal stripes.  The stamp on the bottom says “Lauffer Handcrafted Stoneware Ovenproof Japan.”

I’ve had this same mug for 28 years.  It has faithfully accompanied me as I have studied for law school classes, worked on the Georgetown Law Journal, been a summer associate at two different law firms, clerked for a federal judge, and now worked at the firm for 24 years.  Jane Tucker, our former downstairs neighbor at 1019 East Capitol Street in Washington, D.C., got me the mug as a good-luck-in-law-school present in the summer of 1982.  It is a perfect office coffee cup — sturdy enough to stand some jostling and big enough to eliminate the need for constant coffee runs, with an ample surface area that allows the coffee to cool as I drink another slug.  The glazing makes it easy to clean off most, and I emphasize most, of the accumulated coffee crud each morning.  I appreciate its exquisite weight, and it feels good in my hand as I take the morning slurps.  I can’t imagine working without it.