The 20 Oddest Items I’ve Found On A Colleague’s Desk

Broad City / Amazon.com.
Broad City / Amazon.com.
I recently spent a week sitting at a colleague’s desk to do her job while she was ill. It was pretty dull, except for my richly decorated immediate surroundings. Here are twenty items (or collections of items) I found while working there:

1. Untitled inspirational message.

This four-paragraph screed alludes casually (in navy blue Comic Sans 12-point) to the reader’s “enemies,” “agonies,” and, in one memorable line, “sufferings sorrows and pains [sic].” How can such a downbeat message be affirmative enough to warrant daily contemplation?

2. Untitled congratulatory certificate.

The company president’s signature is reproduced at the bottom of this longish ivory-colored certificate. The text (Lucida Calligraphy, 12-point in tan) alludes to “loyalty, dedication and contributions” but fails to mention any specific event or achievements. A psychedelic-looking clock is printed in the background.

3. “Certificate of Appreciation in the Category of: Disney Cast Members.”

This certificate reads: “[Name] WINS THE Tigger AWARD FOR ACHIEVEMENT IN: Organizing data and information, it’s a wonderful thing!” in five different fonts. Printed above the text are two illustrations of Milne’s extraordinarily popular tiger.

4. “Certificate of Completion.”

The Certificate of Completion is Spartan. A small clip-art illustration is printed above the bearer’s name and the words “has completed the Project Management Foundations Training” are printed in reserved, almost dignified olive green 18-point Arial. Presumably, the training was mandatory.

5. Photo of four black ladies.

Relatives?

6. Various photos of children.

Or perhaps photos of various children? All the children appear happy.

7. Various lotions, perfume samples, and a lint remover.

These items are stacked on a small shelf.

8. “Just Beautiful!!” poem.

“Just Beautiful” is a seventeen-line free verse poem. Each line begins with a question and then answers itself; my favorite is the anatomically-naïve “What makes me a woman? My heart.”

9. “The Seven Dwarves of Menopause” printout.

The word “menopause” has been struck through in red ink and replaced with the letters “PMS” in the title of this printout. Presumably, my colleague will update it in a few years. A picture of Disney’s beloved Seven Dwarves is accompanied in this printout by the legend “Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleepy, Bloated, Forgetful & Psycho.” The serial comma is thoughtlessly omitted, advancing the possibility of an unnamed dwarf. Naturally, this sort of whimsy is printed in navy blue 12-point Comic Sans.

10. “TO MY SISTERS IN THE LORD…” poem.

This poem is noteworthy only for the line “Before you wonder ‘What’s up with her?’ ask yourself, ‘What’s up with me?’” The text is printed in black 12-point Times New Roman.

11. “Psalm 23 (For the Work Place)” printout.

This inspiring bit of 12-point Comic Sans sacrilege begs to be reproduced in full:

The Lord is my boss, and I shall not want.
He gives me peace, when chaos is all around me.
He reminds me to pray, before I speak in anger.
He restores my sanity.
He guides my decisions that I might honor Him in all I do.
Even though I face absurd amounts of e-mail, system failures, copier jams, back-ordered supplies, unrealistic deadlines, staff shortages, budget cutbacks, red tape, downsizing, gossiping co-workers and whining customers, I won’t give up, for You are with me. [Note the pronoun shift.]
Your presence, peace and power will see me through.
You raise me up, even when the boss fails to promote me. [I thought He was the boss.]
You claim me as your own, even when the company threatens to let me go.
Your loyalty and love are better than a bonus check.
Your retirement plans beats any 401K [sic], and when it’s all said
and done, I’ll be working for [Y]ou a whole lot longer!
Thanks be to God!

An accompanying (and severely pixilated) illustration depicts a light-skinned black woman with short braids and enormous gold hoops in her ears.

12. “PRAYER BEFORE STARTING WORK” printout.

Stern 12-point Times New Roman text in red and blue asks the Lord to “anoint [the reader’s] projects, ideas, and energy” in this touching prayer.

13. Untitled navy blue 12-point Comic Sans inspirational message.

Numerous sailing and soaring metaphors populate the text of this message.

14. “READ THE FIRST LINE CAREFULLY” poem.

This seven-line poem begins with the words “READ THE FIRST LINE CAREFULLY,” Epimenides be damned. It closely follows “Just Beautiful!!”’s question-and-answer format save for the logically-confounding first line. The font is 12-point Times New Roman, in black with pink highlighting.

15. Small mirror.

A small mirror hangs on a plastic hook next to the computer monitor in this cubicle. I repositioned it so I can see if anyone is sneaking up on me.

16. Numerous office supplies and folders.

There are office supplies and folders everywhere in this cubicle, but they are most concentrated on the far-right side of the desk. All the folders are hand-labeled, and some appear quite old. All are utterly incomprehensible to me. The office supplies include “Wite-Out,” scissors, and a giant eraser.

17. Small boombox.

The office is eerily silent all day save for muted conversations and clicking keys. I’ve never heard anyone use a boombox, or even computer speakers. The boombox is an old, cassette-only model.

18. Anne Geddes calendar.

March’s photo depicts little black babies peeking out of tulip blossoms. All wear shower caps.

19. Fortune cookie fortune.

“KEEP YOUR EXPECTATIONS REASONABLE.”

20. Empty bottle of Prozac.

The label reads “DANIEL W. WILLIAMS: TAKE TWO CAPSULES EVERY MORNING WITH FOOD FOR DEPRESSION, ANXIETY.” TC mark

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