There is an area of my desk I call The Drop Zone. This deadly slice of my office encompasses the 8-or-so-inch strip of desk to the right of my trackball and right forearm.
At any time, the space is populated by a random assortment of objects. The current occupancy list consists of:
- A spiral-bound notepad
- A pencil (for use with said notepad)
- A DVD+RW containing “Some film or other” that might aid one of those tedious, brain-numbing work periods.
- My iPhone
- A bar of Milka, and a chunky Kit-Kat (nom).
- A microfiber cleaning cloth (for glass items)
- A pair of long-nose pliers (from my fishing gear)
- A human-audible dog whistle (I know, I know…)
- A stick of lip balm
- The screw lid to a metal water container
- A traditional scalpel (with fitted blade)
- A Wacom tablet stylus
- A Calculator
- Two different styles of iPhone desk stand (the clip-on variety of plastic somethings)
- My Skype headset.
I might also have included the pocket knife, the packet of tissues, and the pocket Spanish phrasebook, but, coincidentally, these items have just become the latest victims of The Drop Zone.
Anything within The Drop Zone can, as a result of desk-clutter frustration, be inadvertently (no, really, I never do it intentionally) shoved over and down the side of the desk. One little twitch of the elbow, or a slight shift-right of the trackball, is all it takes.
The tumbled objects disappear with a clatter to lie between the shredder, the mini column fan, and the desk side, until I have some desperate need for them.
Some, of course, fall into the shredder’s slot.
The right-hand side of my desk operates just like those penny shuffle machines at seaside amusement arcades. I place objects in the left-most area of the zone –for fear they might tumble off my desk prematurely– then, over time, they work their way right, pushed a little at a time by new arrivals, until they spill off into that deadly pit between shredder and the desk.
Each time I hear something drop, I go through the identical procedure: I get up, peer down into the abyss, decide I do not need the immediate adventure of retrieving the newly spilled item(s), assume I will be able to remember the location of those items in the coming weeks, then return to my seat and continue with whatever task required me to trigger the latest tumble into The Drop Zone’s abyss.
I do not know most of what is down there right now. I can see several pieces of paper, some sticky-notes, a thick, unopened envelope (which I believe to be promotional trash from my bank).
Lo and behold! Peering down there to write this, I have just found the dog’s clicker training gadget. See? The despair of losing items into The Drop Zone’s abyss, is perfectly balanced by the joy of surprise discovery.