My Pod is My Castle

I should be heading off to bed by now, since Susie, our friend Steve, and I will be en route to the Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention in about eight hours.  However, I’ve felt bad about neglecting this blog, and since I need to wind down in order to get to sleep, I’ll end the hiatus from writing in here and post this entry tonight.

Work today got interesting toward the waning hours of the day.  My workload is usually feast or famine, and for much of the day it was famine.  I had some reports to correct, and about eight orders I needed to type up and send to hearing officers for signature.  I managed to keep myself occupied, but there was a brouhaha toward the end of the day that–I’m proud and relieved to report–did not involve me directly.
The woman who sits next to me usually has WOSU-FM playing on the radio from the moment she arrives (which is at 7, an hour before I come in) until 4 (an hour before I leave).  She usually keeps the radio up loud enough for her to hear it (and for me, in the adjacent pod, to hear it as well).  I am not complaining, because I love classical music–my last few LP purchases have been classical, in fact.  I usually don’t give any thought to how loud it is, because oftentimes I have my headphones on to transcribe a doctor’s report–something which kept me beaucoup busy earlier in the week–the “feast” end of the workload pendulum.
This afternoon, when she left the desk for her break, the co-worker who sits on the other side of her came into the pod and turned the volume down just a little, and he didn’t think she would notice.
Well, she did.  She did not completely lose her temper, but she did harangue everyone at length about not going into her pod when she wasn’t there.  She asked me if I knew who had touched her radio.  I committed perjury by omission by saying, “I just got back,” which was true.  I had just returned from break, but what I didn’t tell her was that yes, I did know who had adjusted her volume.
The co-worker who had turned down the volume admitted he had done it.  This did not prevent out supervisor from sending out an email to the whole section, one of those “if the shoe fits, wear it” communications, about how wrong it was to enter someone else’s pod for the purpose of practical jokes.  The worker who turned down the radio ‘fessed up in a reply (which he copied to all of us), and our supervisor appreciated this, but reiterated the point about not going into other pods and messing with personal property, especially as a form of practical joking.
Another co-worker and I have an ongoing joke/challenge, which we play out every morning.  During the night, a report prints listing all the informal and ex parte orders that hearing officers have signed.  One of my tasks is to go down the list, yellow Hi-Liter in hand, looking for the orders which I typed, marking them, and then making sure they completed properly after release to the signer.  (I’m embellishing this; it is nowhere near as exciting a job as I portray it.)
This co-worker arrives at 7:30, and usually takes everything off the printer that came out during the night.  He has made a little game out of putting it in a different place every morning.  This usually poses a challenge, because when I come in at 8, I am still not 100% awake, and because there is usually a fair amount of clutter on my desk, most of it paper.  His rule is that he will always post it within my sight line when I’m sitting in my chair.  (If our supervisor gets to the printer first, the report is either on my keyboard or in my chair.)  My co-worker, I think, thinks along the lines of “The Purloined Letter”–the best hiding place in the world is right out in plain sight.
I’m not going to ask him to cease and desist from that.  Looking for the report gives me a small challenge first thing in the morning, while I’m waiting for my computer to boot.  I have something to occupy me while I eat my usual breakfast of a banana and milk.
However, I am not totally unsympathetic to the plight of my co-worker, who felt offended when someone went into her pod to turn down the radio’s volume.  I spend 40 hours a week in my pod, and as far as working for the State of Ohio goes, that pod is my house.  In a bittersweet coincidence, the night before I signed the lease for this place in Olde North Columbus, burglars broke into our place in Weinland Park and stole two laptops and a Wii game set.  So I understand the feeling when someone enters your place, your sanctuary, without your say-so.
Part of my ex-pod (before moving to another part of the 10th floor).  Note all the medical reference books–including the DSM-IV-R and The Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.  I do, however, have a fair share of leisure reading material.

The woman I described earlier in this entry left without shutting off her fluorescent lamp.  So, on Monday, I half expect someone will be excoriated for not turning off the light and for letting the fluorescent tube get too hot.  But, after the events described above, there is no way I am setting foot in her pod.