I’m used to having a cluttered desk. In fact, I’ve been trained to appreciate clutter. Before I became a counsellor/employment counsellor, ultimately with the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby, I spent the first 13 years of my professional career as an archaeologist. That means I think in terms of stratigraphic layers. I have heaps of stuff on my desk. If I need something, I remember when I used it last, then worm my arm through the heap until I find it – usually within a few seconds.

It’s a system that works well for me. I tell my friends who are not trained in the discipline that it’s my horizontal filing system

If you really want to ruin my day, come to my office and tidy up a bit. It’ll take me weeks to find anything. When I’m on clutter down time, people don’t find work. If there’s no work, our Canada Pension Plan suffers, which means all those who are working can never retire.

So leave my clutter alone. It’s good for the country.

Actually there is another system at work. The Whims of Providence, as a joke, deposited a small black hole in the top left hand corner of my desk. Working elbow-to-elbow with a black hole in the top left hand corner of my desk means that there is never-ending stream of unclassified and unclassifiable detritus. Usually it’s stopped by the desktop and becomes part of the stratigraphy as it should.

Sometimes, however, especially if I accidently leave the drawer open, the stuff falls into the black hole where it is stretched to infinite dimensions. Then, because matter can neither be created nor destroyed, it reappears in a quasar located in the bathroom. This is why I’m careful not to position clients too close to the top left hand corner of my desk. Nobody wants to be stretched to infinite dimensions and deposited unceremoniously in the bathroom.

When I work on a resume with a client, I have my client sitting next to me on my right. The other day, as I was putting some spin on a client’s SUMMARY OF SKILLS AND QUALIFICATIONS. I needed to leave for a moment and the black hole reached out and grabbed her by the ankle. She, in turn, casually reached over and grabbed the snow shovel and the vase of artificial flowers and as I returned she was beating the black hole into submission. When I returned, she was still there but her shoe was missing. “That’ll be in the bathroom,” I told her.

As she recounted the terror the black hole put her through, I was able to add two points to her SUMMARY OF SKILLS AND QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Ability to remain calm in difficult  situations


  • Always able to find the right tool for the job

These are invaluable skills for someone looking for a job as a server at Hooters.

Mike Broderick is an Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he finds employment for people with physical disabilities. Part of this work means affiliation with the Vancouver Board of Trade where he is a member of the Ambassador Club, the Burnaby Board of Trade where he is a member of the Labour Task Force, the Tri Cities Chamber of Commerce where he is an active member of the 10X10 initiative, and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. He does some work as a field Archaeologist and is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive magazine in Port Coquitlam. You can reach him at home at michael_broderick@telus.net or at michaelb@neilsquire.ca. If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates When he is not doing all this he lives in Port Coquitlam with his partner Cecelia.


2 Responses to “EMPTY DESK: EMPTY MIND”

  1. Sharon Says:

    Hilarious! Pile management to the nth degree. When my pile gets so high I pull out the recycle bin and let nature take its course.

  2. Jeanne Kraus Says:

    Loved this piece! I am a firm believer in a cluttered desk. Every pile represents something that I am currently working on. Anything put away is no longer worked on, out of sight, out of mind. My last boss did not agree with that. She felt that everything needed to be tidied up and put away. OF course, she was not a writer.

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