I have made something of a practice of writing about the office spaces I have inhabited, ranging from a 2012 CCC piece through four samples of work for student use (here, here, here, and here) and a few more reflective pieces (here, here, and here). I still inhabit some of that office space; I’ve not relocated my home office yet, since I still live where I did, and I still have a part-time teaching position, even if I’ve not been assigned a class for the current session. But not all of that office space is still mine; I’ve lost jobs, and one of the schools I’ve taught for has closed since I left it. (There’s another I think might before terribly wrong, if things continue as they have been for a while, now.) In one case, I’ve moved from one office to another, not because anything wrong has happened where I work, but because I have assumed a new position that has a private office among its trappings–and, since I’m in a new office, it’s time to write one more office piece.
It was not a long move to get from the most recent former office to the current one; I am now in a large private office just off of the lobby where my former desk–ably staffed by a new hire–sits. Most of what I had at that desk remains there or near there; it was tied to the position rather than to me, and I inherited a fair amount of material from my predecessor in my present position. I also brought a fair amount of stuff from home that I had had for previous office spaces and had packed away against not having a private office of my own to post it in. (Yes, I have the home office, but there is only so much space on its walls, and much of that is taken up with shelving.) Having arrayed it as I have, I do run into the problem I address in my 2012 CCC piece, that the honors and awards I have on display can be read as evidence of my insecurity.
At the same time, the people who have seen my office have commented favorably on it; they like the way it looks (and smells), describing it as “professional” and “homey,” among other pleasant terms. It does not read for them as covering my fears (though, just over a week into the job as I write this, I have a fair number of fears to cover; I am not certain I am ready, though I trained for this for years). Instead, it reads for them as justifying the trust that has been placed in me by awarding me the position I hold. It helps them to know that they are in good hands–and I hope that I can, indeed, wield such hands for them.
The privacy of the office is itself an indication of that trust. Even more than before, I am in a position to handle sensitive, confidential information; not only do I still deal with treatment matters, but I also attend to concerns of the agency’s finances and personnel, things that even those who can handle the clients’ data well cannot be privy to. And I may, in time, have to deal with disciplinary matters I would rather not have to address, though I will do so as the need arises; privacy is good for that, as well, and that I am afforded that privacy is, again, a mark of trust.
I hope to be worthy of it, and for quite some time to come.