Dear Backroads Miz Manners,
The custodian at my workplace is too efficient. This may not sound like a problem to some, but it is to me. I don't need my keyboard wiped down every day. Who am I, Elaine the germ-carrier offering a work-mate a sullied bottle of water? I'm not dirty. I use the Germ-X several times daily. I can clean my own keyboard as needed. Other things I do not require:
*the inside of my microwave wiped with a bleach rag
*the stack of electronic sound box, VCR, and DVD player dusted
*the table wiped under the snarl of wires that connects my control center
*the floor under my extra chair mopped
*the caps put on the pens I leave on my desk
*the pens lined up in order of size
*my tables shoved against the wall
*the rolling chair by the table moved from the end to the middle...every night
I find myself playing the passive-aggressive game. The first time all of my things were moved, I asked if somebody had been using my room. No. The second time, I mentioned specific things that were out of order. Huh. Somebody must be messing with you. Then I let it go. But I refuse to clean up stacks of papers, shelve piles of texts, or throw away three empty cardboard boxes on top of the bookshelf.
I know I'm being petty. Most folks would love the have such a thorough cleaning. But I feel violated.
*Microwaves are personal. What's next, cleaning out my mini fridge? Sorting through my file cabinet to weed out unnecessary files? Dusting the closet shelves?
*Electronics can be dusted every couple of months. It's not like I'm working inside a grain elevator, putting us at risk of a flash fire.
*The table is white, with gray flecks. Nobody's going to notice dust under the wire jumble.
*The excess sweeping moves my spare pair of shoes that I keep under the spare chair. I have to dig them out and spin them around to put them on. Plus, the chair gets moved, and when I roll back my desk chair, I'm penned in.
*Nobody should be touching my pens. What if I want to put them in my mouth and chew on them, and somebody's poopy fingers have been stroking them after hours? Even if they're wiped with a bleach rag, I could get a mouthful of unpleasantness.
*The tables must be away from the wall to allow the power cords to dangle. Already, a major connector was wrenched from my sound box, and I had to ask the morning custodian to shave the plastic off the wire with his pocket knife and reattach it, after consulting no fewer than three people to find out which post it needed connecting to.
*The rolling chair blocks my access to handouts that are stacked in the middle of the table.
It's eating at me. I'm as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I know when my things are moved a millimeter. My boundaries are being broached.
What can I do?
First of all...chill the eff out! In the great tapestry of life, your issue is but a tiny loose thread. Your career is not going to unravel if somebody moves your cheese. Enjoy the cleanliness while you can. Tomorrow, you might get the alter ego whose lone piece of equipment is a dust mop. The little one.
Why is your microwave so sacred:? What do you have to hide? Are you cooking up batches of meth on break? Selling pot brownies? If you were left to cook in your own filth, you would be demanding that microwave-cleaning be added to the custodian's repertoire.
So what if your things are moved? Are they strewn about the room willy-nilly? I doubt it. Move them back a millimeter to their original positions. Many students today have asthma, or dust and mold allergies. How dare you wish them ill health in order to maintain your slovenly habits. I'll bet you bring peanut butter sandwiches for lunch, even though you don't like them, in order to antagonize the peanut-allergy kids. Just because you're too lazy to bend over to put on your shoes, don't begrudge the custodian a healthy, aerobic workout on company time. And what kind of hoarder keeps empty cardboard boxes for five months?
I suggest you seek treatment and/or medication for your obvious case of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Invest in some pacifiers so you can keep the pens out of your mouth. You need to do your job, and not concern yourself with the job of the custodian.
Backroads Miz Manners