Thursday, January 22, 2009

My “Own” Office

Last week I told you my struggle to get prep time for the first day of class. I had hoped to be settled in my new office and working on lesson plans weeks before class started. Unfortunately, that was not reality. Fortunately, I did get an office the first day of class. Man was I excited to have a new office. So what if it was on the fifth floor of a five story building. And who cares if you don’t have an elevator. I need my exercise anyhow. And do you really need electricity or the internet? Not in this day and age. I will just charge my laptop at home during lunch (and climb the stairs again)! And I love those smoke filled internet cafés. What was important was the fact that I had my own desk.

That first morning, my friend Cosmin took me to my office. He made sure my key worked before wishing me well. I remember his final words as he left, “Looks like someone decorated for you! Enjoy.” At that point it did not register with me that I might be sharing an office. Guess I overlooked the fact that there were two desks in my office. Immediately I began to make myself at home. After all, I had lesson plans to prepare! In less than an hour I was able to clean out the “big desk” that for some strange reason was full of paper, pens, pencils, etc. I wonder why? By this time it was approaching lunch. Though we had been in Romania a month I was unable to muster up the courage to find the university cafeteria. Baby steps!

About an hour later (maybe two, it is Romania) I returned to “my office.” Now what happened next probably would have captured the attention of a normal person. However, I was so consumed with my new office and the hours of work I had ahead of me that I totally overlooked the fact that all of my stuff had been moved to the small desk. “Strange. Who would have done that? Oh well, might as well move it back!” Looking back I’m dumbfounded that it took meeting my office partner a few hours later for it to dawn on me that I was sharing this office! You know, that small desk wasn’t that bad after all.

Now the story would be funny if it ended here. However, it gets better! For weeks I went about my business working from the small desk. I would work in the morning, return home to charge my computer, teach class in the evening, and then return to my office to do more work. Now the office was a bit small so I didn’t leave a lot of things overnight. After all, I had to charge my computer at night! Now I’ve already labeled myself as a “less than observant person.” So it probably doesn’t strike you as strange that I didn’t realize things being moved around on my small desk. Sure I noticed a pencil moved occasionally; sometimes my books would be moved as well. However, I did have an office partner. Maybe he moved them. Wrong again!

Weeks into the semester I opened “our” office door only to find a small Romanian man sitting at “my desk.” How dare he? Maybe he was just waiting on my office partner. Wrong again. After several minutes of pointing, grunting, and broken English, and horrific Romanian, I discovered he was a part time professor. So it wasn’t that crazy that I didn’t notice his subtle changes to “our desk.” He only worked two days a week. I wonder what he thought about my stuff being there. Assuming he was more observant than me.

The great thing was he and I developed a neat relationship over time. It was great to learn about Romania, Timisoara, and the university from someone that had been there long before Communism fell. I’m glad I shared an office with both of my office partners. Think how boring and lonely it would have been otherwise! Life’s too short to spend it alone. Aspire to new heights. Have a great weekend.

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