I accidentally told a few of my workmates about a curious habit I have. (Accidentally in that I was talking to keep things lively and found myself relating an anecdote and thinking, “Oh dear. How do I change the ending on this one? Oh well, at least make it funny.”) And now, I’m afraid one of them is going to tell my boss ….
My curious habit is to sit under my desk. After a bad phone call, or uncovering an issue that feels insurmountable, or because I feel bad for some reason (e.g. a few weeks ago, I got some not so great news from home), I crawl under my desk and sit there for a few minutes, knees to chin, breathing deeply. After that, I can face the world again.
This habit started because one day something happened – I don’t really remember what – and I put my head into my hands. It all felt too much. And I thought, “I wish I could just disappear under my desk.” It occurred to me, well, why the hell couldn’t I? So I got onto my knees and crawled under my desk. It was nice down there. Quite spacious, really. Rather comforting. Dark. Quiet – the only sound was the hum of my motherboard and that was a reassurring kind of purr. I felt much better. I crawled out again and continued to work.
Calling it a habit is probably overstating it somewhat. My days at work are not so bad that I crawl under my desk with frequency. It is a rare occurrence (i.e. it’s happened twice this year and maybe three or four times last year).
As a child, I definitely hid in small spaces when I was not feeling so good. My mother chided me whenever I was unhappy, so if I was unhappy I had to be unhappy somewhere she would not find me. Under the bed. Under the stairs. In a corner of an unlit room. Once, when I was about 6 years old, I crawled into a chest and fell asleep there. I was missing for so long my family went searching for me up and down the street, and out to the park. I think my brother found me. Thankfully, I’d been missing for so long that my mother’s relief washed out her usual desire to berate me for most of the wayward things I did.
I mused aloud to my workmates about what would happen if one day someone walked into my office while I was under my desk. Would it be better to stay really quiet and hope they don’t see me, or crawl out and own up? It would be quite easy, I think, to expect they would not see me, because that involves walking into the middle of my office and looking under my desk for me. I suspect, however, that I am the ‘own up’ kind of person. As it is, at least 7 of my workmates now know that I am wont to crawl under my desk when things are not going so well. All of whom now say that if they come to my office and I’m not there, they are going to look under my desk for me. And most people at work think I’m odd anyway so they can just file my crawl-under-desk habit away with “Oanh’s Quirks” (includes cycling to work, eating salad sandwiches, knowing words like schadenfreude and not watching TV).