Monday, September 12, 2005


I used to work in a cubicle. Cubicles are not fun places to work. They’re all confined and grey and cube-y. In order to make my cubicle less cube-y and more me-y I started adorning the walls and my work area with various random items.

The more random the better.

The items on my desk ranged from a ferret calendar (do I like ferrets? No. But every month offered a new ridiculous picture of a ferret dressed up in some even more ridiculous outfit. This entertained me more than most of my coworkers could really comprehend.) to a jar of gherkins. (because one day one of my coworkers said the word “gherkin” and I’d never heard it before in my life. I thought it was an awesome word and sat in my cubicle repeating it using different inflections for the better part of the work day. The co-worker bought me a jar at the store, to show me what they were, and I kept the jar on top of my computer, just because I loved that damn word.)

As time went by just about every inch of my desk and wall space was covered in completely random items. Much to my amusement. And much to the confusion of people visiting the office. I could always tell if I was going to be friends with someone by whether or not they laughed at the random crap on my desk. Some people would look at my area and quickly advert their eyes, not wanting to engage the employee that was clearly mentally unwell. Some people would inquire about some of the items and then merely frown in confusion when I explained how they each amused me. And then there were the ones who would make a point to come by and play with the various items on my desk or perhaps even bring items to add to the collection. These were my people.

David was one of those people.

He worked in the IS department (aka: The Computer Dorks) and I worked in the Accounting department (aka: The Math Dorks). David and I both actively sought out things to entertain us while passing the time at our extremely boring jobs. Much of David’s entertainment was found in seeing how annoying he could be to me.

Despite the fact that my cubicle basically looked like a flea market I knew exactly where everything went. If someone were to come by my desk and move anything even the slightest bit, I noticed and moved it back. And was quite annoyed in the process.

Once David found this out there was very rarely I time that I returned to my desk and didn’t find something out of place or just generally messed with – courtesy of David. He’d do little things, like move the gherkins to another part of the desk, or hide paperclips in various places. Or he’d do more elaborate things, like turn my rubberband ball into an abstract piece of art that could have probably sold on ebay for a good sum of money.

One of his constant changes was to a picture on my wall. A woman in my department had printed out a cute picture of two puppy dogs and pinned it up on my wall. Sure it wasn’t as much fun as the ferrets, but who doesn’t love puppy dogs, really? One day I looked up to my wall and noticed that something was different. After some time I realized that the two puppy dogs had turned into two horses. From that day on David would come by my desk before I got to work and put up a new picture of two animals. It became a running joke and also quite a challenge for him. (There really aren’t THAT many animals in the world, or THAT many pictures of just two of them.)

In addition to rearranging my desk David also helped contribute to it. On the orders of his boss he was forced to clear some of the useless stuff off his desk. And instead of throwing it all away he sent quite a bit of it to me. It seemed like every time I checked the mail there was another interoffice envelope with some completely pointless item from David’s desk – parts to computers, instruction manuals from the 1970’s and my favorite, a Bill Gates paper doll book.

When I left the company where we both worked I received many cards and presents from people wishing me a fond farewell. When David came to say goodbye he brought his final, heartfelt gift. A dead tree that had been sitting in his department for who knows how long. He even put a bow on it. Thanks buddy.

David’s funeral is today and I wonder if anyone will talk about how funny he was, or tell any stories involving a rubberband ball. Probably not. Funerals are such downers. I understand that someone has died, that it’s a time to mourn, and all that. But to me life is about so much more than someone’s death. And funerals should be too.

When I go to say goodbye to David today I won’t bring a dead tree, even though I think he would have liked that. When I remember him, I’ll remember his laughter and his playfulness. I’ll remember that he had a great heart and a great spirit and an abundance of useless crap on his desk. And I’ll remember how he went out of his way to use that useless crap to make me laugh every day. Thanks buddy.


Patricia said...

it sounds so stupid, but i'm sorry for your - and the world's - loss. he sounds like a person we'd all like as a friend.

i would've been tempted to bring the pic of the two dog/horses, that's for sure.

oh, and not knowing what gherkins are? very disappointing. they're insanely named and tasty.

Anonymous said...

It's a real site!

Anonymous said...

David's kids had a pet hamster that lived a typical hamster-like life cycle (i.e. short).

David kept the departed hamster in his freezer, waiting for just the right spring day to put it to rest in his backyard. I had just gotten a 'foodsaver' from a home shopping channel. While the rest of his cohorts in the IS department mocked me mericilessly for my fascination with do-it-yourself vacuum sealing, David graciously (almost eagerly) offered to let me seal the frozen hamster for the sake of both posterity and sanitation. We both procrastinated, and now, sadly, I'll not get the chance.

I'm going to miss his sense of humor quite a lot.

dawn said...

Oh god, I forgot about the hamster.

Anonymous said...

You can't imagine the pain we will feel with david's loss. He was a huge part of all of our lives. He was one of the funnest co-workers I have ever had. I miss our long walks, and our long talks. Wish I could talk to him more. My heart is broken.

Anonymous said...

Tru-dat sistar. David was such an interesting guy. So loved. He could really annoy the crap out of me sometimes. I worked as his cube neighbor in the IS department. Since I was never an early individual to the office, he had plenty of time after his animal picture find to sabotage my desk. The post-in note stuck to the bottom of my mouse got old so he resorted to unplugging my hard drive, turning my speakers all the way up, adjusting my monitor settings...
HE would log into my computer account and reply to some of my e-mails in ways that nobody would ever do or say to anyone.
May favorite was when I would answer my phone with goop all over the earpiece. Sometimes he would put tape over the mouth part so the caller didn't hear my colorful comments. Not always.

I thought I didn't like it and pretended I was mad, but the day after he left this job, I already started to miss him. A little more every day. So far, I miss him the most today.

Anonymous said...

David was such a great guy and will be missed by all. I had forgotten about the hamster. I wonder if Nutmeg ever got a proper spring day burial before the family departed Sac town on their voyage to Our-Kansas.

May David and Nutmeg rest in peace and live for eternity together in heaven.

Cardigan said...

I'd only begun to get to know David before he left the company, and I'm certainly sorry about that. We had a lot of things in common, and when he returned from Arkansas, I was looking forward to firming up our friendship.

I did not know just how wacky his sense of humor was, though! I wish I had.

For that matter, I rarely venture down to Numberland, so I wasn't aware of just how wacky YOU are. But I do miss our emails, kiddo.

Dave's Friend said...

What a guy. He was so heartful. He was so giving. He seemed so happy. He was in LOVE with his family. What happened? Where could someone go so off the wrong end? He was the most giving guy I've known in all my years. I wonder why he thought giving up his life was the best idea. I wonder what he was thinking. I know whatever it was in his head was nothing selfish even if that is what usually comes to the thoughts of most people. I know he wasn't thinking of himself. Someone else made him hurt. He was trying to stop their pain. HE wouldn't hurt us or anyone on purpose. This part wasn't in his thoughts. I don't know why or how someone like he could make such a dent in one's life. My heart hurts for him and his family and for his hundreds of friends. My heart cries for the world's loss.