Stuck in the Past

“See all those marks and dents on the table there?” 

“Yeah?” 

“That’s from him slaming his phone repetitively until it broke.” 

“What?” 

“I went on Amazon and bought the same style phone in bulk. He just kept destroying them. Few people tossed across this table too.” 

“You one of them?” 

“No, but I saw it happen once.”

I stared at the dents and shook my head, lifting another spoonful of Subway’s Cheddar and Broccoli soup to my mouth. He walked out of the room and pulled some magazines out of the secretary closet, plopping them on the counter in front of me. Two Playboys 1963 and 1964 editions. Great condition. 
“He didn’t clean out this place when he left. Left remnants of the kind of guy he was everywhere.”

“These could be worth money.” 

“Probably are. Why I haven’t tossed them yet.” 

“Is he dead now?” 

“No. Silent partner. Not sure if he chose that or was asked. Frankly I think he chose it. He was too violent to be asked that sort of thing.” 

My office space used to be the office space of the former CEO. He didn’t have a good track record for being a nice guy. 

I wanted to ask why people let him get away with that sort of thing, but in my heart I knew why. He bullied people so much they were afraid of him. They said something he didn’t like and he put an end to the disagreement via violence of some manner. He abused people. That’s what he did. He abused his employees and they were so scared of him they didn’t touch him.

Thankfully things are not that way in this office anymore. Yes, the dark wood panels and harsh fluorescent lighting remain, but my coworkers and I have done what we can to make the space more inviting. We brought in lamps for more ambient lighting so we can see our screens better. I regularly use essential oils that we all agree smell nice to get rid of the stuffiness of the room. We bring in items from home that make us feel at home. Like we own the space. Like it’s ours. We try to speak well to each other, as if the walls collect our words. We communicate. We laugh. We collaborate creative ideas in this space. Yes, it’s still an office, and yes, it isn’t an ideal space, but we make it work and try to make peace with it’s past. 

Recently we have had contractors in the building remodeling our second floor into office spaces. My team and I will be moving upstairs soon to a room with new walls, paint, lighting, and so much more in that space than what we have now. I already purchased some artwork from the museum to put up in my area. Encouraging works like “It’ll be just fine.” Things we need to see and hear regularly. Beautiful things. Colorful and bright things that will make us happy to see them and remind us of small victories mattering and to keep level heads about things outside our control. A few inside design jokes. Things that keep the space creative and ours. 

I’m excited about the new space. Mostly because it’s a space that hasn’t had anyone else in it. No remnants of past dwellers and oppressors. Just us. It’s a blank canvas for us to grow into and build all our own. Freshness. Just what we need. Fresh paint. Freshwalls. Fresh desks and furniture. An update from the typical time warp we’re in now. Which is so needed. It’s better not to be stuck in the past anyway. 

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