I got the miniature Magic 8-Ball when my daughter gave it to me after she attended a friend’s birthday party. She handed me the 8-Ball happily and told me that it was for me since her friend didn’t give out any parting presents for the parents.
“You came too. They should give party favors to the mommies and daddies too.” She was so earnest and concerned about me, I couldn’t dare to say no. I took the cheap plastic Magic 8-Ball into my office and sat it next to computer monitor. In the many years since, when I’ve been twitchy with nervous excitement or simply looking for a moment of inspiration, I’ve picked up the 8-Ball and shaken it. I can’t say it’s brought on any divine inspiration or gotten me out of any jams, but it’s still been a fun break.
Should I go to lunch with my friend Steve? Ask again later. Will the technical review and client acceptance testing process be completed on time? It is certain. The water has leaked out of the ball, making the advice hard to make out now, and it’s been pushed aside to a far corner of my desk, but there it still sat today until I decided that it’s usefulness had come and gone.
I got the Staples Office Supply Store “Easy” Button as a Bosses Day gift from a former report, the dark cherry-wood grained clock from the president of the small college where I once worked, and the popsicle stick frame with my kid’s pictures when they gave it to me as a present for Father’s Day one year before they decided to grow up on me and head off to college.
After close to two decades with my employer, I’ve been working to clean up my work area and file cabinets. I’m moving to another building and it’s probably as good of a time as any to purge all the things I’ve been collecting over the years. I’ve been making three piles: things I need to pitch, keep handy on top of my desk or file away. In the process, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we accumulate stuff.
Most of my non-work related items, came from my kids. I couldn’t bare to throw the items away and they seemed like a great way of cheering up the small office area I’ve called home. I got the Mickey Mouse coffee cup that says World’s Best Dad one year as a Christmas present. I still love the cup, but it’s one of five that I now have on my desk.
I got the Arizona State University miniature basketball after I visited the school on a business trip. I took the trip close to 18 years ago and haven’t been back, but I still like to throw the ball up in the air. I swear one day, I’m going throw it too far, hitting some unsuspecting coworker and spraying hot coffee all over them, but for now I’ve been lucky. The worse that has happened is that it bounces away from me and I have to race after it like a little kid chasing his toy.
I have other things that I have no idea how I’ve accumulated: A rock painted red, blue and white with my son’s initials; past family calendars; pictures of my kids from when they were young, and a variety of writing style guides and books on business, marketing, investment management and finance.
I’m cleaning up my desk, but most of the materials I’m keeping to take home. My kids aren’t little anymore like they are in the pictures and their handwriting has gotten much better than the kiddie scrawl on the letters and cards I’ve saved, but the pictures and cards still make me smile.
And always will.