The Professor’s Assistant

Today is my first day. My task is to familiarize myself with the laboratory, its contents, and to organize said contents. Step 1: scan the room, beginning with the door and moving clockwise. I divide the room into quadrants: the bookshelf, the white board, the desk, and the Professor’s sitting area. Step 2: familiarize myself with the contents of each quadrant. The bookshelf is over capacity. Books are stacked haphazardly and without any apparent organization scheme. On the white board, I see equations, notes, questions, and to do lists. On the desk, I see various items, both personal and professional. Some drawers are overstuffed and do not close properly. In the sitting area, I see various documents stacked on the chair, next to the chair, and under the chair. Step 3: organize the items within each quadrant. I begin removing the books from the bookshelf and stacking them alphabetically by author’s last name, but I am interrupted by the Professor. He walks to his sitting area, and then he looks at me, startled.

“Who’re you? What’re you doing with my books?”

“I am your Assistant, Professor. You tasked me with organizing your office.”

“Oh, yes, yes. Carry on then.”

He puts a file under his arm, stops, and looks about the room. “Why did I come in here,” he asks. He looks at the file again, before shaking his head then shrugging. “Ah well, please organize my office. I will be back later.”

“Yes, Professor. I will organize your office.”

Step 1: scan the room, beginning with the floor and moving towards the ceiling. I divide the room into four levels: bottom, low, high, and top. Step 2: familiarize myself with the contents of each level. On the bottom, I see a stack of documents near a chair and books near the bookshelf. On the low level, I see desk drawers partially open and books stacked inconsistently on the bookshelf. On the high level, I see a white board filled with information from multiple projects and the desk covered with documents and small items. On the top level, I see pictures taped to the top of the white board, and numerous items on top of the bookshelf. Step 3: organize the items within each level. I begin stacking the documents and books chronologically, but I am interrupted by the Professor.

“I remember now. I need the galley copies of my latest article. Would you hand them to me? They are on my desk, there,” he says, pointing to a document on his desk.

“Thank you,” he says, briefly glancing at the document before looking up. “May I help you? What are you doing in my office?”

“I am your Assistant, Professor. You tasked me with organizing your office.”

“Ah, right, right. Of course. How long will that take?”

“I cannot say. I will work until your office is organized, Professor.”

He flips through his document as he turns and exits his office. “Yes, please organize my office. I will return later.”

“Yes, Professor. I will organize your office.”

Step 1: scan the room, beginning with the biggest items. I divide the items into four categories: smaller, small, big, and bigger. Step 2: familiarize myself with the items in each category. The smaller items include markers resting on the white board tray and pens on the desk. The small items include files on the desk and floor and books on the bookshelf. The big items include chairs behind the desk and in a sitting area. The bigger items include a desk, a bookshelf, and a whiteboard. Step 3: organize the items within each level. I begin collecting the markers and pens, organizing them by color, but I am interrupted by the Professor.

“Oh, hello. Have you seen my latest invention? I seem to have misplaced it.”

“I do not know, Professor. What is your latest invention?”

“A sorting robot. I designed it myself. It took me forever to get the coding to work. Have you seen it? I feel like I left it somewhere around here.”

“I will look for it now, Professor.”

Step 1: scan the room for a sorting robot.

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