My office neighbor, Pat Kossman–America’s literary editor–is super neat. A place for everything and everything in its place, is my impression of her take on the issue. That is not mine at all. First-time visitors to my own office tend to look about in dismay at papers and books on every flat surface, including two long tables and even the floor. I have long contended that the floor should be considered an extension of the bookshelves above. My basic assurance to visitors is therefore, "I know where everything is." Well, mostly. In my small Jesuit community, on days off or on weekends, the superior frequently says, "I have to clean my room today, otherwise I can’t get anything done." This may be an indirect reference to the state of my own room, and his hopes for an improvement therein. But apart from making my bed every morning and occasionally vacuuming the rug, I live by my same office concept of "I know where everything is." So there I am, hemmed in by a super-neat Jesuit superior at home, and another at work. Occasionally I step into Pat’s office, and urge her to simply pick up an orderly stack of papers from her desk and, flinging them into the air, experience a long-neglected sense of liberation. So far she has not acted on this well intended suggestion. As for my superior, don’t even think about such a proposal. It might lead to novitiate-era room checks. George Anderson, S.J.

Comments

Anonymous | 1/4/2008 - 7:27am
It's not often that my office is neat and tidy. I once had a secretary who offered to organize and file all the books and stacks of papers.... I almost had a panic-attack - how would I ever find anything then? Could I really trust her with my stuff?