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Today at work I…

Today at work, I got my whiteboard hung in my room. This is how it happened. On my second day at work, I ordered office supplies for myself at work. This included, amongst the pen holders, staplers, binder clips and other assorted things that clutter up my table, a white board. I had almost forgotten that I had ordered these supplies when they turned up at the department secretary’s desk a full 5 weeks later.  After spending a couple of hours arranging and rearranging  my penholder , binders and stapler on my desk to achieve the most professional look, I turned my attention to the white board. While I was pondering the precise height my whiteboard should be hung at, the department secretary –J—poked her head in the office “ I have put in a ticket for maintenance to come and put up your white board”.  I didn’t know that putting up a whiteboard was a task for maintenance but I suppose I was thankful I didn’t need to bother with it anymore. That was two days ago.

Anyway the maintenance man turned up today pushing along a large trolley full of tools. He was greeted with a huge cry of surprise from J. Although I didn’t appreciate the honor immediately, my colleagues assured me that I was witnessing a rare event.  For it was not often that the maintenance turns up within a week of putting in the ticket.  So the maintenance Man (MM for short) raps briefly on my door and asks me “Where do you want the white board?” Now to give you a better idea of the choices I had, I have drawn a brief plan of my office room.floorplan

Two walls were taken up by my desk and file cabinet. And in front of the third wall were lined the visitor chairs.  So I point to the only wall that was available.”There”. I really meant to say “There, obviously you moron, where else could I hang it” but I paraphrased. He glanced at the wall very closely , shook his head a couple of times and said “Bad idea”.  I didn’t follow his observation and politely asked him to elaborate. Apparently two of the walls of my room (the thicker ones in the picture), were the real walls since they were the exterior walls. The internal walls were made of a flimsier material and were essentially just partitions between rooms. According to MM, he could not drill holes to put the white board on these internal walls.  Somehow that did make sense to me.  But then, I peeked into the neighboring office rooms to see what they had done. Somehow all my colleagues had their white boards on these internal walls. I pointed that out to MM and he responded “New regulations, can’t do them anymore”.

As I stood there, a bit confused, MM face brightened up. I could put it on that wall he said, pointing to the wall space above my printer. I carefully explained to MM that I wouldn’t feel comfortable climbing up on the table to write on my brand new white board. MM acknowledged gravely that it might be a problem. He then came up with another idea— why don’t you turn your furniture about—then you can have that wall free and I can hang the blackboard. He took out a tape measure, waved it about and said—that shouldn’t be a problem. I liked that suggestion— I was anyway tired of sitting with my back to the door. I had to keep minimizing my windows each time someone entered my room or passed by. Very irritating when I am reading blogs or books or merely surfing— which means most of my activities was severely curtailed at work.  I enthusiastically agreed and in all my naiveté asked him if he could rearrange my furniture today.  MM laughed at my ignorance— arranging furniture is not my department , you have to put in a ticket with that department. So I stepped out and explained all of this to J who responded very succinctly “No, that requires permission from your boss along with the Administrative Officer (AO) for that floor and is a complicated process”.

In one of those miraculous coincidences that seem to occur only in movies, my AO walked in right at that moment to talk to my boss. I seized the moment and explained my predicament to both of them asking for permission. My boss clearly was an experienced man, he didn’t want to get embroiled in this issue—he merely asked the AO to do whatever it is to make Deepa comfortable and rushed back into his room. The AO looks at me and says  “Girl, you are not in the private sector any more….are you really sure that you want to move your desk?. I nod a little hesitantly.  The AO smiles in a way that I don’t like.  “Let me explain the process”, she says. “First we put in a ticket…the moving department will come in and measure the rooms, they will then draw the floor-plan and re-arrange the furniture on paper. If it doesn’t fit they have to talk to the contractor who supplied the furniture to see if there are other parts of the modular furniture that might be suitable. Only then will they actually come down and do this. All of this will take about 3-4 months”.

I am not sure how to answer this. 3 to 4 months to merely move two tables by 90 degrees. By this time, some of my other colleagues have popped out of their rooms to watch the drama. One of them ventures to ask if we couldn’t just move the tables ourselves. My secretary looks aghast – no no no, that is against the regulations. By this time, I am giggling at the absurdity of it all.

I come up with an alternative suggestion. What if we move the cabinet 90 degrees and put up the white board bang opposite the door. MM is ok with it, I turn to the AO and secretary for their agreement. They are staring at the door and then the AO slowly shakes her head…”Nuh-uh that wouldn’t be 503 compliant”. She goes on to explain, “Well if a handicapped person comes in the door, will they be able to roll their wheel chair upto your PC. I don’t think you will have space for that so I don’t think that is allowed”. By now I am totally frustrated and have decided that I probably can do without a white board. I would only doodle stick figures on it anyway.

MM comes up with one final suggestion—What if I hang it from the ceiling. There is a moment of silence where I am sure AO is reviewing all the rules and regulation of hanging a white board from the ceiling…she slowly nods her head.  I bring a minor point against the idea—  somehow I am not comfortable writing on a swaying board.  MM suggests that he can stick it to the wall with double sticky tapes.  I agree. I step out of the room and allow MM to finish the work before any one can change their minds,.

Soon, the white board is hung from the ceiling at the spot where I wanted it initially. MM was also nice enough to shift my keyboard holder 30 degrees to the right (on the right of the printer) so I am facing the door. I happily leave for lunch. When I come back I roll up my sleeves to move my monitors to the space I wanted about one foot to the right. My department secretary sees what I am doing and rushes in—- “No no you cannot move your monitor. We have to put it in a ticket to the IT team who will come and move your monitors”.  So I sat there and waited for a couple of hours for a young teenage volunteer from the IT department to come down and move my monitors a few inches to the right.

By the end of the day my white board was hung, my monitors were moved a few inches to the left and I was ready to go home. What a productive day at work!

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Copyright Deepa