It’s there every time I go by, every time I turn my head to the other side so that I don’t have to look at it. It doesn’t matter that I can’t see it; I still know it’s there. It still bothers me, that little bit of disorder.
Everyone laughs at me because of it and I fight the urge to give in for a while, but it reaches a point where the relief I’d get from fixing it outweighs the embarrassment I feel at their hands.
I’m getting close to that point right now. I have to cross the room to get to the morning meeting, right past it. Then, after the meeting is over, I’ll have to go by it again to get back to my station. I know I won’t be able to pass it twice without putting it back right.
But I manage to put it off until after morning meeting is over. I hang back and survey the area, searching for a round about way back to my station but nothing will avoid that wall with those plaques and the two chronologically out of order.
Maybe if I had someone to walk with and talk with I could have distracted myself enough to go by it without fixing it but everyone had lit out of the room at the meeting’s end as if someone had promised free donuts to whoever got back to work first.
I gather myself together and focus on my destination. I start moving quickly; perhaps sheer speed will take me past it. From the corner of my left eye, I can see a number of my coworkers peeking above computers, around shelves, and over partitions only to duck as soon as they see me see them. The distraction is almost enough, but in staring down a few of them my footsteps have slowed down.
The right corner of my eye sees the line on the wall and my body stops. I don’t even turn my head to look at what my hands are doing, ashamed for having given in. There’s a commotion off to my left but I won’t to turn my head in that direction either.
After calmly walking back to my station I try not to give myself such a hard time. It was a new record for how long I’d let it go before fixing it and that was something I should be proud of. And at least I knew that for a while, it wouldn’t bother me. I should have at least until the cleaning crew comes through next week for the end of the month’s major cleaning session.
When I packed up at the end of the day, I was content. Until I walked by the plaques. I could feel that something wasn’t right before I looked. There were two out of order again but not the same two as earlier. It took everything I had to walk out the door.