Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Good Desk

A couple months ago, I wrote about how my boss was being transferred, leaving me with more work but also with one less reason to contemplate throwing myself off the Forth Road Bridge.

Among the many fringe benefits of her leaving was the possibility of getting "The Good Desk". This being the best seat in the entire office space. An end desk with the privacy of a filing cupboard/wall at your back instead of the chattering admin staff. A desk next to the window with a view of the...parking lot. Well, OK, you can't have everything. Compared to my present desk situation, which is a veal crate in the middle of corridor, it's positively palatial.

It's been two months now since Wheeze went, and still the desk is vacant. Why should this be so is, I think, partly due to the inability of the three contenders (myself included) to be pushy enough to try to claim it for their own. This is such a weird British thing- the need to appear polite while meanwhile behind the scenes all sorts of Machiavellian machinations are taking place.

Anyway, so I was sitting in my dark hole the other day, looking longingly over at the dappled wood, the sunlight plains of the Good Desk, and I thought to myself,

"Maybe if I tell them I am infertile, they will give me the desk."

Immediately thereafter, my brain recoiled in horror and repulsion. Ugh! Ugh! Abhorrent notion in every way! How could brain think such a thing!

Then I promptly switched into therapy mode, where I try to work through my impulses in a calm and reasonable fashion, despite the intense feeling of mental uncleanliness. I came to the following conclusions:

1. We live in a compensation culture. Something bad happens, somebody is meant to pay. Or something good is meant to come out of it. Or if you suffer bravely and valiantly, one day, you will get your reward. Or be given a "quick fix". Having a bad day/week/year? Have a cookie. Have three cookies. Have the afternoon off. Have the good desk. My brain was simply repeating a pattern that I see going on around me day after day.

2. It's decidedly weird to be spending the better part of my waking hours experiencing something so intense and heartrending alongside colleagues who haven't got the foggiest idea of what I am going through.

I mean, I spend on average 8 or 9 hours a day in an office space with these people. Not a single one knows how difficult it is for me to get out of bed some mornings. None of them knows how many times I have sat in front of my computer pretending to work but really staring into space, wondering in anguish when it will be my turn to send round the digital photos of the new baby, to talk about car seats and paddling pools.

Nobody knows that yesterday I walked back from the cafe with my lunch, thinking I am so sad. I am so sad. I look like everybody else- I turn up for work on time, I smile, I make conversation. But I am dying inside with this sadness, and month by month it gets worse.

I am entirely aware that in the big scheme of the universe, my plight is not uniquely or even particularly deserving of sympathy. But part of me nonetheless wants them to know, for them to acknowledge, however superficially, that this is happening and I am struggling. Much as I fear the asshat advice and cutting comments, sometimes I just find it so wearing to pretend I am not pissed off, unhappy and sad about not getting pregnant. Who knows, maybe I would find out they have secret griefs of their own, and we can all stop pretending so hard that everything is OK all the time.

I know I won't tell. Because as much as I sometimes want people to know, I more often than not do not want all the side effects of disclosure. So all my feelings just continue to bubble under, producing brain farts like the one I mentioned earlier.

3. It's a really good desk.


At 12:19 PM, Blogger Toni said...

I'm not an expert on British culture (unless watching TV makes you an expert - but that's like assuming that all Americans are either like American Pie, American Beauty or Friends) but I would push for the desk. Why shouldn't you have something to look forward to every day?

I totally get the sadness...and I'm not going to give you an advice b/c sometimes nothing anyone says makes it better. So, here's my shoulder - and I just went to Sam's Club for kleenex (bulk buyer).

At 1:56 PM, Blogger Soper said...

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At 3:18 PM, Blogger lobster girl said...

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At 3:20 PM, Blogger lobster girl said...

I meant to say, the worst they can say is no. Oops. And hopefully they'll say yes!

At 3:23 PM, Blogger lobster girl said...

Aaaahhh! Problems with posting. Let me try this again....

Mare, I think we are living parallel lives. No one I work with knows about my struggles or sadness either. I was just thinking that I'll probably have to miss some upcoming semi-important meetings due to sonograms and such. And part of me would like to tell them that I should be off the hook and be allowed to miss meetings some times because I"M INFERTILE dammit. But I won't tell them. So who knows what they will think of my absences.

And ... ask for the desk, dear. The worst they can say is no.

At 4:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that at work too. Most of the people I work with know about my IF, but the students I teach don't. And when they ask me why I look upset, or why I'm having a bad day, I make something up or say "personal stuff." And they look at me like they want to know, like they want to give me a hug, but of course I can't tell them. And then I have to be on stage, all cheery, teach a class of thirty fifteen year olds. It sucks.

One of them knows. And she gets me presents and cards every time I do IVF. It's the sweetest thing. Now that we're adopting, I don't know whether I'll be walking around this sad anymore. I'm hoping the sadness starts to dissipate a little.

Hoping for you too.

At 4:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Argh, that last post was from me, Karen Naked Ovary.

At 5:22 PM, Blogger JJ said...

Compensation Culture

Quite right! Where do I sign up for social assistance?

The metformin prohibits me from eating Ice Cream. If I can't have a baby I should at least be allowed Ice Cream, dammit!

If I can't have a baby I could at least be rich, thin, beautiful, working from home...

I do have an office though, with a door, that locks.


At 2:27 AM, Blogger Julianna said...

The sad heart is so universal.

It would be amazing if we knew what every person was really feeling.

I still think it is best to save that tender place for special people.

That being said, move your stuff over to your new desk. Perhaps decorate the walls around it also.

Good luck to you!

At 4:13 AM, Blogger Jen P said...


I swear, you're in my mind again. I believe that for every bad there is a reciprocal good. That's the only thing keeping me going lately and I really, really, really wish your reciprocal good comes soon and not only is that office yours, but you get to submit the forms for maternity leave, really, really soon.

Lots of love to you.

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Pazel said...

I get very jealous about desks and offices. I had to give up my nice office three years ago when I started working at home. It sounds silly, but it made me feel important when I'd bring people in there. And, having the sun come through the windows cheered me. I know office/desk envy. Someday I hope to have a nice office again.

As for the sadness, telling your office mates will not make it better. Instead it could mean they give you stupid advice or sad looks as you eat your lunch. Chances are they will not understand. Actually they could say that since you will get pregnant sometime and then go on maternity leave sometime, then you shouldn't get the nice desk. People can be little evil.

I've worked places where they would rip each other apart for a good spot, as they did for any recognition or promotions. It was a horrible place to work.

I'm sorry that you're feeling so sad. I wish I could sit with you at lunch and we could dish on your coworkers.

At 10:52 PM, Blogger E. said...

I think your plight is absolutely deserving of great sympathy -- even in the scheme of things (of course, I'm biased). How horrible, Mare -- I hope at least you get that desk.

At 11:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear Mare. I wish that desk was yours. I wish so much more was yours.
But that desk...why souldn't yo have a little more comfort?
Stupid joke of the day: maybe you could mark your territory a la animal kingdom? Then you would not only get the desk, no one would ever want it.
I'm sorry, friend, I just feel for you.


At 1:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know what you mean. Only a small, select group of colleagues knows what I've been through. Sometimes I wonder how they can NOT know that my heart is breaking right in front of them idly chit chat by the copier or pour themselves coffee. As much as I want them to know, I also don't want them to know. It's truly strange.

...and go get that desk, would you? You deserve it.

Heidi lost and finding


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