By Frank Mulligan
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The guy was going to be away from work for an extended period of time.

He needed surgery, and would be gone for several weeks.

That is, of course, if everything went “well.”

And, the guy admitted to himself, he was worried.

He was on the precipice, eying the inevitable.

He was going to have to clean his office workspace.

It didn’t seem right to leave the desk in its current state of urban blight. It was reminiscent of Detroit in the movie, “RoboCop” – the original, good version.

It wouldn’t be fair to his co-workers to leave the desk like this.

They’d have to coexist with the anarchy that held sway in his cubicle world.

And they’d be unable to rectify the situation without violating his personal space.

No, it wouldn’t be fair.

Plus, the guy just knew they’d talk about him.

So it was a desperate time calling for a desperate measure.

Cleaning the desk wouldn’t be easy.
But then, things worth accomplishing seldom are easy.

Which is one of the reasons the guy disliked so many things deemed worth accomplishing.

The mounds of paperwork alone were stacked high enough to daunt a Sherpa.

Some of the correspondence on the bottom dated back to a time when Dunkin Donuts only sold donuts. It was rumored that a prominent archaeologist was interested in leading a dig at the site.

There was a reason, though, for the piles and piles that had grown about the desk over the course of time.

The guy firmly believed that moments after he threw something away, he would need it again.

Was this a rational belief?


It had all the logic of tossing spilled salt over your left shoulder to ward off the devil, something the guy had done earlier that day during lunch.

Philosophical musings aside, though, the guy knew it was time to get to work.

And work he did, attacking the Augean stables that had become his desk, though thankfully no manure was involved.
It took time, of course. The guy picked an off day to do the job so he’d be alone. That helped speed the process somewhat.

Hours later, the guy had succeeded.

His desk, his entire cubicle, resembled, well … a desk and a cubicle.

Now, while he was away on medical leave, his pristine workspace would be an office monument of sorts to the guy’s attention to order.

There was one last blemish, though.

A faded coffee stain on the desk’s surface, to the right of his computer keyboard. You could barely notice it, really.

But the guy was committed at this point. He retrieved a cloth, wet it with disinfectant and set to work rubbing the stain out.

Inadvertently, though, the guy hit a full cup of coffee with his squeegee and spilled its entire contents on the floor directly in front of his desk.

The new stain resembled a giant Rorschach inkblot.

Which, of course, wouldn’t come out.


Wareham (Mass.) Courier editor Frank Mulligan can be reached at