Monday, July 17, 2006

Ask trillwing: the shared office dilemma

Dear trillwing,

I will be sharing an office with a fellow asst prof when I start my first job this fall. Do you have any tips for managing such a situation while retaining the vestiges of my sanity?

phd me

Dear phd me,

First off, my condolences. I've never officially had my own office, but I find the dinosaur art method works well to fend off colleagues as well as students. Hang your art before your office mate hangs hers!

Beyond that, here are my tips:

1. Be territorial. Remember checking into your freshman dorm room? Use that experience to your advantage. Arrive early to claim the desk by the window and the more comfortable chair. Under no circumstances should you negotiate. Remember: YOU are the alpha professor at the bottom of the departmental totem pole.

2. Leave an empty terrarium with a heating rock in the office. Upon first meeting, place your hand on your cheek. Say: "Oh dear. Have you seen Slither?"

3. During shared office hours, use canned air to shoo the dust buffaloes from under your desk into your officemate's 1/3 of the room.

4. Play "office stalker." Change your office hours every semester so that they always match hers. Begin to dress like her and bring the same lunches.

5. Flatulence. (Failing that, bring in a microwave and heat some 3-day-old Chinese food, preferably something with cabbage.)

6. Intimidation. Keep a large three-ring binder labeled "Tenure Documents" on your desk. Fill it with blank paper. Put a lock on it to fend off prying eyes.

7. Every once in awhile, speak in tongues. Ask, "Did you see the great faith healing by Benny Hinn on TV last night? Boy, can that man ever vanquish unclean spirits." Pause. "Say, you have taken Jesus into your heart, haven't you?"

Please let me know if these approaches to securing your own time and space don't work for you. I'm happy to offer others that have worked for me.

Best of luck with your haunting.


Do you have a pressing matter that only trillwing can address? If so, leave your question in the comments or e-mail her at trillwing AT gmail DOT com. All reasonable, and some unreasonable, requests for advice will be fulfilled.


Phantom Scribbler said...

Oh my. It's too hot to be laughing this hard!

elle said...

you are crazy!

Queen of West Procrastination said...

Okay, I just read both of these Ask Trillwing columns out loud to my husband. This is awesome.

phd me said...

Oh, she got there first! Still, I think speaking in tongues might clear out an office.

How I adore your sense of humor!

Scrivener said...

This is hilarious! Though I feel the need to point out that phd me clearly asked to retain "the vestiges of my sanity" and I'm not sure you're really helping there.