Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Five knickknacks that have followed me from job to job and office to office for the last 20 years

I'm always interested to see how people who work in offices (at their place of business or remotely at home) decorate their desks, cabinets and bookshelves.

Photos are most common, it seems, and for good reason. I have a photo of Terry and me on my desk that I look at often and that serves to remind me why I do what I do 40-50 hours a week for the Materion Corporation.

But beyond the pics of kids, spouses and significant others, there are other little bits of office decor I always find fascinating. They provide some insight into what people value, what they do with their free time, and in general what their personalities are like.

I have worked in an office setting since 1988, if you want to call newspaper newsrooms "office settings." They are unlike traditional business offices in that they're generally loud, sometimes frenetic, and usually filled with what could most politely be described as irreverent conversation. I worked in newsrooms from '88 to '96 before moving into more genteel offices.

Since 2002 I've had something like 10 different offices at six companies. Each time I've switched jobs or undergone an office move, there is a core set of items I've smothered in bubble wrap and carried from place to place. They have stayed with me for most or all of these past two decades, and I can't imagine an office without them.

Draw whatever conclusions you will about me from these longtime office knickknacks:

The Laughing Buddha

In December 2005, I spent two full weeks in China meeting with journalists to pitch story ideas on behalf of the clients I represented as a vice president at Cleveland public relations firm Dix & Eaton. I picked this up at a Shanghai market for what I'm sure was a criminally low price, as the dollar was particularly strong against the Chinese yuan at the time. There's something about him that makes me happy, and I've always made a point of putting him in parts of my office where I'm sure to see him.

The Mexican Porcupine

Speaking of Dix & Eaton, about a year and a half after I joined the firm, we moved from Downtown Cleveland's Erieview Tower maybe a half-mile away to the 200 Public Square building. As people were cleaning out their Erieview offices, there was a table where you could discard stuff you didn't want to take with you, just in case others might be interested in it. This little guy was placed on that table (by whom I don't know) and I snatched him up for no other reason than I thought he was cool. A few of the toothpick quills have broken over the years, but he's still going strong and watches me all day long as I work.

The Globe

I always wanted a globe, and one Christmas Terry gave me this little beauty. It serves no practical purpose, but then again, what true knickknack does? Actually I take that back. In 2019, a day before we were scheduled to fly to Australia for a cruise, I spun the globe to North America then spun it to Australia, and it was the first time I realized how truly distant the two continents are from one another. It made the 15-hour flight from Los Angeles to Sydney a little more understandable, so I guess the globe provided some benefit in that one instance.

The Puck

I am an ardent fan of the National Hockey League's Ottawa Senators. Have been since they came back into the league (following a 70-year absence) in the early 90s. I think I bought this puck and cheap plastic display case in Niagara Falls when I took one of our kids there way back when. It's a good conversation piece when someone asks the valid question, "How does a lifelong Clevelander become a fan of the Ottawa Senators?"

The Appalachian Trail Rock

Some years ago, my neighbor Tim did some hiking on portions of the Appalachian Trail. Knowing that a through-hike of the trail is a likely-never-to-happen bucket list item of mine, he very graciously brought back a rock for me, just so I could have a little piece of the 2,150-mile pathway I would love to traverse at some point before I get too old. I always thought that was really nice of him, and it serves as a reminder that we all need to have dreams.

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