|This is a picture of a Tingle table that ran in The New York Times sometime in the late 1990s. I remember seeing them in the Service Center in Covington, but I was grateful that I never had to sit at one.
I have some incentives to straighten out the desk where I am now sitting. When Steph and Susie came home from running errands yesterday afternoon (including clothes-shopping and a haircut for Susie), Susie left something on my desk, along with the recent issues of The New Yorker and The Catholic Worker. She found it Scotch-taped to our front door. It was from our landlord, saying they’re doing a property inspection next Tuesday afternoon. A messy desk isn’t grounds for eviction or reprimand, but it’s a good reason to try to make some headway into straightening this up. (The letter said, “It is not necessary that you be on the premises at the time of entry. The representative, after knocking, will use a passage key to gain entrance.”)
Some other incentives: My pedometer and my keys are missing. I made it a point not to take my key ring to the Con in Cleveland last weekend (see last entry), because I was worried about losing my keys in Cleveland. (This ring has my house keys, the keys to my desk and cupboards at work, and the ring knife I “borrowed” from the Cincinnati post office when I worked there in 1994.) As part of a Live and Work Well campaign at work, Human Resources was handing out free pedometers at work, and I was quite conscientious about clipping it to my belt, and recording my daily number of steps in my diary every night, and now the pedometer is at large.
As I’ve made the first baby steps toward organizing this desk (more of a work table, really), I’m more grateful than ever that I don’t smoke. I’ve never regretted for a nanosecond the fact that I’ve never smoked a cigarette (total disclosure here: I’ve never smoked tobacco), because I’m uncovering half-empty cans of cola and cups almost every time. Had these been cigarettes, I would have burned this place down long ago.
I have the same “out of sight, out of mind” problem when it comes to facial recognition, and because of this, I have–totally without meaning to–offended people when I draw a blank on who they are. Last Monday, when Susie and I took COTA to her school, we were walking from the stop on Indianola Ave. to her school (just under half a mile), when a father driving his daughter to school pulled over and offered us a ride. I was grateful for this, because it was raining. He called me by name, and wished me happy belated birthday (I turned 48 on the 29th), so I knew we are Facebook friends. Susie didn’t know who he was, either, because she and his daughter aren’t close friends. His name didn’t click with me until tonight, when there was a notice on Facebook that he had changed his profile picture.
This is an extension of the shock you feel when you’re a grade-schooler. All of us can look back and laugh at how bewildered we are as children the first time we see our teacher at the grocery store, or walking down the street, or at a restaurant. I will totally overlook someone if they are out of context. If I’m used to seeing you at work or church, there is a chance I may not click on who you are initially if I see you in a completely different setting.
Sometimes that extends to uniforms and clothing. There was a Muppet skit on Sesame Street a long time ago where a little boy is lost, and goes to a nearby police officer for help. Because of the badge and the uniform, he doesn’t recognize that the officer is his uncle. One of my English professors at Ohio U. was a Catholic priest, but I only saw him “in uniform” once. He usually dressed like a stereotypical academic–tweed jacket with suede elbow patches, button-down shirts, necktie. The one time he came in wearing his “blacks”–i.e., black shirt with clerical collar, black slacks–was when he had performed a wedding shortly before class, and hadn’t had time to run back to his apartment and change clothes. When he came into the classroom, it took me a second to realize who it was, although I knew from day one that he was a priest.
So when everything is right out on the desk, it’s easier for me to remember its existence. Whether my keys and my pedometer are under here is still a mystery. (I am not exaggerating. This desk currently resembles an archaeological dig. I considered posting before-and-after pictures, but decided against it. I’m too mortified by its current condition.) In the course of typing this entry, I’ve already discovered a pair of laptop speakers I forgot that I owned.