My habits apparently cause OCD in others



I am an extremely messy person. My office desk looks like food, papers and several unknowns exploded all over the place. I have 20 pairs of shoes strewn about under my desk. I have yellow pads everywhere with a scribble here and a scribble there. All those scribbles together actually have great meaning.  I jot down random thoughts and revolutionary world changes across my papers. I have ideas for new businesses, songs, blog posts and academic papers lined up across the walls, desks, and drawers. My mind needs chaos. If I sit in a clean room with a neat desk, I go crazy. Messiness is a sign of my sanity. If there is no mess, there is trouble brewing in my head. Sadly, for those around me that is not the case for them.

If I find things neatly put together, I become a hurricane mess. Once I un-straighten things, others around me start to fret both at home and at work.  Every friday I fly back home and leave my office mid-day in total disarray. Often, when I return on Monday morning, my office is neatly put together. My body flinches at the neatness. I sit down, look all around and proceed to move things around so that my desk is covered again in papers. I can then more readily find things I need. If things are neatly stacked, there is no way I will find what I need in a timely manner.  After I mess things up, I see the twitching in the bodies of others.  I see the eyes flutter nervously and the uptick in the pacing. It is as if those around me, can’t wait till I leave the room so that they can straighten up.


I leave opened cans of Coke Zero everywhere. I actually drink warm soda. Well, not like I warm it up. I drink room-temperature soda. I leave the cans opens and drink from them throughout the week. I once saw a staff member go into my office and look at all the coke cans. He started to pick them up and I stopped him, asking why he was picking them up.  He said he couldn’t stand seeing the cans scattered throughout the room half filled.  He noted that he could not understand why I didn’t just drink and finish one before starting on the next.  He felt compelled to empty them out and recycle the cans.  I went to drink from one of the long-open cans and he went running from the room. I truly cannot remember if he ever came back into my office. I imagine he did. But I also imagine that he came in shielding his eyes.


He is a rather normal guy. All of these people around me are (well, I exaggerate on that one).   Apparently, I drive the normal out of people when it comes to messiness.  Individuals become obsessive about straightening up my messes. People feel compelled to clean up and put things into little neat stacks. If only they knew those neat stacks drive me batty.  When my dog was alive and I worked from home, we would sit together on the floor in the middle of papers, laptops and squeaky toys. We were content. He was my conspirator. He was my pal. He was my chaos buddy. My buddy and me bonding over our wonderful world of stuff strewn all about us. This is why I love dogs. They are just content to be with their family where-ever it may be and how-ever it may be.  Now, I’ve gone maudlin and must sign off.



Categories: Culture, Psychology, work, workplace

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9 replies »

  1. Lucky you never worked for one of my former employers, a large aerospace company, which had a clean desk policy! Personally, I can live with clutter as you’ve described for a long time, though I do occasionally reach my limit and feel compelled to organize. Of course, that organized state is only temporary!


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