Several of the pieces I’ve written in this webspace (this, this, this, this, and this), as well as at least one in another, have focused on offices I’ve inhabited. Even before writing the most recent one, I had taken up a position in another office entirely, one in which I remain (along with the home office I still prize and the now-shifted cubicle where I still teach). It occurs to me that I have not discussed it, and I need to rectify that lapse before matters shift once again and I have to try to write about my spaces from a memory that I am noticing does not work quite as well as I remember it having done. (If I do. I’m not sure I can be sure.)
That office is the one I occupy in my day job at an outpatient substance abuse treatment center in the Texas Hill Country. It is, in effect, a corner of the front lobby, from which I manage the building’s schedules, answer phones, receive and process paperwork, greet clients, take their information and their money, and do the myriad other things that my position as an administrative assistant obliges me to do. It is open to the rest of the room, certainly, and so it compels me to interact with those who come in the door at the facility, as well as those who call in and who fax (yes, we still get faxes). Email to the facility usually comes through my spot in the office, as well, and I end up as a point of contact among the other employees at the facility.
The station is different from most of the offices I’ve had, certainly most of those in academe. In them, I had and have at least the illusion of privacy; I’ve generally been in office pools or cubicles, so there have been things to obstruct view of me from the door–when I’ve not (as was the case a few times prior to the home office) had a door of my own to close. In my current position, I greet those who come in the door; they can see me as soon as they open it, and I them. It does change the nature of the work I can do; academic work tends to encourage and reward isolation and removal, and neither is available to me where I am now.
Then again, I have a home office, and I work from it. I also have a steady day job that pays decently and offers benefits, and I am grateful for it. And when the work day is slow and the lobby empty, when the phone is not ringing and my inbox is not dinging, I still have the opportunity to put a few words together or take a picture or two. In all, then, my current office space is not a bad one–though I would be lying were I to say I didn’t look forward to having another.