Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Today, Stephen made my life 15% better.

I'm calculating that by cutting my life into three separate pieces: work, non-work and sleep. So that narrows it down to thirtyish percent. Then I figure I'll say he improved about half the thirtyish percent that stands for work, because, really, how can you do good work in a poorly-designed and cramped workspace? If I said he made my life 33.333333 percent better, that would kind of be saying I've sucked at my job for the last three years, and I'm not about to say that... But wait and see what I'll be able to do now, with room to move and space to store all the stuff that has always gotten heaped and stacked in there.

Although you can't forget that if I'm less stressed at work, I'm bound to be happier in the 33.333333 percent that is my non-work life. Which might make me sleep better. So, I think I'll up it to 18.

I'll pretty much work anywhere. If my environment isn't ideal, I make do. I once stood still in the dark in a magic cabinet for forty minutes because there was no way for me to get "set" in the prop once the audience started arriving.

So, yes, it was Stephen's idea for me to ask about making changes to the workspace. But more than that, he designed the whole thing. We discussed what I wanted, and what might make my work easier, and he came up with all sorts of great ideas, ways to use the same space I already have but more efficiently, and then he drew it all up in a set of pretty intricate plans.

It took a while, but Powells' Physical Plant department fit us into their schedule and built some fixtures and, today, overhauled the entire Merchandising Space.

One excellent idea Stephen had: move one of the room's two openings so that people would cross through one end and not diagonally through the whole room.

Another excellent idea: to build little corrals where I can store the foam-core signs that publishers send for the windows, and the panels I put together for my window displays. Before, they were stacked and leaning against walls.

On my own, I couldn't have looked at that space and figured out how to fit those things in there. Stephen measured tables and desks and had them moved around for better spacing. He had the men in Physical Plant make me a fixture to hold my rolled paper items and a fabulous little flat workspace that folds down from the wall so I can put my large-sized graphics together without sitting on the floor in the middle of everything.

Although today when I was bragging about it, a couple people said they'd miss seeing me sit on the floor with my paper and tape like I was in kindergarten.

Stephen didn't do it all, of course. Liz, my supervisor, weighed in, and Gabe, from Physical Plant, built and hauled and installed. Lovely construction work on the new pieces. Cal, too (who's my right-hand man when it comes to decorating for Christmas) helped on the install. Sometime today, in the middle of all their sawing and drilling and hammering they pulled a work table over and discovered under it, along with lots of dust and bits of paper, an old, dried up apple that had shriveled down into some cross between a ruby and a brain. It hadn't molded at all, just ossified under there for... god knows how long. The thing was as hard as a good piece of papier-mâché. Cal gave it a sniff. Gabe told me, "You can have it for a paperweight."

I kept it, of course. So, I think that puts me at 19%.

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