The Hiding Place

It was a desperate moment and I’m not proud of how I handled myself. But sometimes circumstance forces you to behave out of character. You’ve been there too. Emerging into the world, hair tussled, knees of my jeans riddled with carpet fibers, and cheeks awash with a blush, I found myself caught with no explanation other than the truth:

desk fridayYes. I was hiding under my desk. Yes, Coworker. From you.

Hiding under my desk. It’s something I frequently wanted to do, but never really considered as a viable option.

I work in a space in my office called “The Nook” — a shared cubicle-like area outside our CEO’s corner office. Behind me, sits her assistant who I adore. We are the Nook Crooks, a duo with a mutual appreciation for dark chocolate and need for invisibility cloaks. The Nook is at the front of the office, about 20 feet from the main entrance and 10 feet from the receptionist. A low wall sheilds us from being directly visible to visitors, but once you know where we live, you know how to find us. And people who frequent the arts council, aren’t afraid to walk by our receptionist to say “hello.”

If only they were sneaking into the nook to say hello!

Since I’ve been working at this station, my fellow Nook Crook and I have been plotting ways to install some kind of alarm/security system. But we acknowledged even bells and sirens doesn’t solve our plight — we’re in a corner.  If there’s someone coming we want to avoid, our only exit strategy is jumping out the window.

I heard Cudjoe’s voice before he even stepped off the elevator. Cudjoe has a small gallery specializing in African art in my building. He’s a friend and we’ve successfully worked together on more than a few projects. But since the summer, I’ve been avoiding him. He wants to rent my gallery for his daughter’s wedding reception — an event I usually veto. I considered making an exception for him, but I had completely forgotten to take to our building people. His voice got closer. He was here to see our auction coordinator and drop off his donation for our annual gala.  I knew if I stood up and headed for the bathroom, he’d see me. I looked around, searching for an escape route. And then it hit me — I could hide under my desk.

I took my phone and made a dive, nose first. I pulled my desk chair in close enough to obscure my wine-coloured pants. Then I began to rummage items together — if the off-chance someone saw me, I could at least pretend I was fixing or looking for something.

Then I heard Ed’s voice. Ed is my organization’s counterpart in performance. He’d been trying to track me down for weeks to settle on a schedule for concerts that would happen in the gallery at the same time as the most important exhibition of my career, to date. I didn’t want to tell him how I felt about that without some back-up. So I decided I’d hang out under my desk a little longer.

So that’s where all my umbrella’s went! Oh, and here’s that photo an artist gifted me…

I amassed a neat pile of objects I could pull out to cover my tracks.

About 5 minutes passed and finally, all was quiet. I made my move.

“Trying to keep a low profile?” Ed’s question made me jump. He had seen me and decided to wait for me to emerge.

Caught, and with no where left to hide, I made an appointment to meet him later.

I confessed my desperate act to one of my superiors. She laughed and pulled up a recent This American Life segment called “The Leap,” which recounted the story of her uncle Bill — an NYC school bus driver who one day skipped his route and drove his school bus to Florida. He became something of a hero. She was trying to tell me she sympathized.

“When Ed came up to meet you he made sure to pull out your chair and look under your desk,” Anna, my boss’s assistant told me.

And with that, so ends my hiding place.

April Showers Bring May Flowers, and Awkward Workplace/Romantic Encounters

April showers reportedly bring May flowers. April, 2011’s spring rains were absolutely ones of renewal, bringing with them a new blossoming job and a budding new outlook on romance, the sum of which equated to countless new possibilities for awkward social encounters.

Apparently, there are mug theives in my office. Even personalized mugs aren't safe.

Scene: 9:45AM, Day 2 at my New Job. I walk into the staff kitchen with my spill-proof, porcelain coffee mug with an intent to fill it. There’s a petite blond woman kneeling on the counter top, straddling the sink, blocking the coffee pot while she rummages through the cupboards.

“Have you seen my mug? It has my name on it.”

“No…”

“I ordered that mug especially with my name on it so no one would take it. You’d think that if someone saw someone else’s name on a mug they would think ‘this mug belongs to Kate, so I won’t take it.’ But no! Not here. People just take your mugs. Do you have your own mug?”

“Yes…”

“Let this be a lesson to you. Keep it with you always, otherwise someone will take it. Sometimes they even break it. The coffee is fresh, by the way.”

So much for my plans to get to work early

Scene: 8:30AM on the first real springy day in April. I’ve decided I want to leave work early, so I wake up extra early to get to the gym extra early so I can get to work extra early. Post workout, I’m standing in a Diane von Frustenberg skirt and Cole Haan loafers in the parking lot of the gym. The car doors are locked and my keys are staring at me from the front seat, laughing.

Thanks to the keys locked in the car incident, I arrive at work late, only to discover the artwork hanging in the window (the piece that was the lead for a NYTimes review of the exhibit) has come unhung. To rehang it, I have to mount an 100-year old radiator, in a skirt. The burn on the inside of my knee was, luckily, hardly noticeable.

Scene: Late night Saturday, there’s a monsoon raging outside and I’m inside a cozy restaurant on a date with a guy nearly 10 years my senior who might, arguably, be classified as a “player.” Being rather forward, he kissed me. A metallic object suddenly bashes against my front tooth with an audible clunk. Concerned about the integrity of my incisor, I pause.

I saw the scarf and thought Parisian, my boss saw the scarf and thought "She's hiding a hickey." Imagine if my date's tongue ring had chipped a tooth...

“Do you have a tongue ring?”

“Yes.”

“A warning would have been nice. These teeth aren’t straight but they were expensive…”

Scene: It’s the Tuesday after the monsoon-bathroom-tongue-ring debacle, and I’m wearing a white collared blouse and have a magenta silk scarf tied around my neck in a bow. There’s cake in the staff kitchen. My co-worker and I are stuffing our face. She turns and asks:

“Are you trying to hide a love bite? WhoisheWhat’shisNameWhatdoesHedoforworkIsHegoodenoughforyou?”

“Umm… No? It’s a rainy Tuesday in April. I’m just trying to cultivate my inner Parisian.”