Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Beloved Yankee Desk

This is really disconcerting and actually a bit heart breaking. I think I am going to have to replace my desk.

I've had my beloved desk a long time. It was one of my acquisitions when I went to work for GE in Schenectady, NY. That came about when I found myself without a job around twenty years ago. So I did what any out-of-work guy would do, and that was to go to Colorado and hike around and think about the whole thing. I didn't do the hiking thing with tents and cooking on the open campfire. Instead I did it a different way with motels and diners. One night I got a phone call from my wife and she said some woman from New York was trying to get in touch with me. I didn't recognize her name and certainly couldn't understand why someone from New York would be calling.

So I got the number and slept late the next morning and called her. It took me a few moments to place her in my foggy brain. She was the vice-president with the firm that I used to work for. She was now a consultant with GE and she knew I was looking for work and they needed a Manager for eastern division power contracts group and she thought of me. She brushed away my objections that I didn't know a damn thing about contracts and told me to call Jim. So I did, and found Jim to be a pretty likable guy. He said I was highly recommended by Anna, the instigator in all this, and he asked me a lot of questions about my experience and started talking about contract management and I would throw in a comment or two and I finally asked him if I was faking it pretty good because I didn't know a damn thing about contracts? He laughed and said that they had a bunch of geniuses up there who I would learn from. Then he told me to call Gary who was the VP of something or other. So I did and he didn't sound very friendly but said I was recommended by Anna and I did answer his general questions pretty decently and faltered quite a bit on his specific questions and the conversation ended.

I sat in that motel room for a minute thinking, "New York! That's crazy. Oh well...." Then the phone rang and it was Jim and he asked me when I could start to work. I stammered a bit and told him New York was a big city with lots of cabs and it was cold, and he explained that there was more to New York than The City and that they were in Schenectady which was a couple of hundred miles northwest and then he lied when he told me the snow wasn't that bad. I wasn't so sure about dedicating the rest of my life so far from Texas so we agreed that I would come aboard as a Contractor and he sweetened the pot by offering per diem and a flight back to Texas every month. I told him that being a Contract Manager of Contract Management sure seemed odd and he said it would fit right in because their whole organization was kind of odd. So we agreed that I would report to work in two weeks.

So I drove back home and my wife was pleased because the world wasn't going to come to an end after all and I packed up all the clothing I had with long sleeves and drove to New York. I made my way into Schenectady about noon on a Thursday and got a motel room. Jim met me the next morning at a diner and I followed him into work and I met people and was introduced to my staff and I wondered what I had gotten myself into. The following Saturday I searched for an apartment and found a tiny one on the second floor of an old apartment building. I then set about getting some furniture.

While driving around I spotted a dinky second hand furniture store. There I found cheap furniture piled on top of each other. I think I furnished my apartment for about $300, complete with an orange sofa and Formica kitchen table and chairs and a coffee table and a bed, which I had to find new mattresses for, some old dishes and pots and pans, and the desk.

Today the desk is tending to come apart at the seams. Yesterday my wife had the carpet replaced in my office. I didn't particularly feel that I needed new carpet....those stains didn't bother me. But during the process they had to move the desk. My desk doesn't take kindly to being moved around. Now I sit here and notice that parts of it are kind of crooked, and two of the drawers won't fit in to their homes because things are a bit out of shape. I kind of banged and shoved on it trying to make it work, but it is old and cranky and is not cooperating.

This is a Yankee desk but has fit right in to my southern lifestyle. It is my friend and we have suffered through life together. It has traveled with me from Schenectady (five years there) to Fitchburg, Massachusetts to Houston and to an apartment in Houston when I got a divorce to another apartment when I met Marilyn to this house.....and hasn't complained too much about it. Now it is tired.

My wife has wanted to replace this desk for years. I have explained that it is old and I am old and we understand each other. She has told me that it doesn't go with the decor and that there are some really nice desks that I can get on Craigslist for a couple of hundred dollars. She has repeatedly sent me Craigslist listings which I have deleted. But now I am going to have to start looking at them.

I wonder if it will hold up until the New Year? Maybe I can drag it out a little longer. I really like my old desk. We are comfortable with each other. We understand each other...maybe with a few nails and screws I can.....sigh. I think I have to face up to it. I wonder if I can find one that looks like this one? 


  1. You and that desk have a bond. There are stories that desk could tell - just given the opportunity.

    So don't give it up just yet. It's beautiful, there must be a way to have it restored?

  2. Yes, a good woodworker could take that apart, rebuild it and refinish it for about $1,000. Possibly less, but you want a GOOD woodworker and not just a guy with tools and an ego but little experience. $1,000.

    How much is an old friend worth?

  3. That desk deserves to continue living with you. Spend the grand. Get it fixed.

  4. What a lovely desk! I would look into restoring it, especially seeing he's such a good friend.

    Bimbi x

  5. " is old and I am old and we understand each other..."

    Sounds like this is more than simply a piece of furniture. I like Michael's suggestion.

    I had a similar feeling about an old Mustang I once owned, and I've always regretted getting rid of it--although all the reasons for doing so were good and practical and made total sense at the time.

    Take the road less traveled. ;)

  6. It is a very nice looking desk. My desk and I do not get along so well together. In fact, I'm looking for a replacement. But a good desk, that you get along with, is worth its weight in gold.


  7. You can fix it, I know you can! I hate my desk because it's a modern piece of wanna be wood. I love your desk- fix it please fix it!

  8. I'm with the other commenters, especially if the desk is solid oak or cherry or some kind of great old wooden desk not the light stuff they make now. When we moved from Illinois to CA, the moving van tipped over. Fortunately we had signed on for the full insurance and the moving company paid big bucks to have our antiques restored, some of which were basically splinters. Like an oak dresser, piano, and others. We got them back and they were gorgeous.

  9. Hmmmmm I cannot say I completely understand this bond, but then I have always been one to hold everything loosely in my hands - I guess it's just in my nature, what I was taught. So unless Marilyn is on board with spending a grand or more to restore it (which isn't a bad idea especially if it is made of nice wood or could be worth more than sentimental value) I think it's time to retire the old fellow and make a new friend. I know that's hard to do, especially since they really don't make things like they used to, but I'd be willing to be that Marilyn could use her great Craigslist skills to find you something of equal value and comfort. One that you could "get along with" as well or better than this one and that wasn't falling apart. Whatever your decision, may your week be fully blessed and brimming with joy and thanksgiving :)

  10. Please, please don't dump your long time traveling partner desk...get it you can go on together. Good friends are hard to find.

  11. I swear I'm not grumpy. But it's just a desk. And you just got new carpet, which means you had to scoop up all the stuff on your desk to move it. So in reality your desk is covered with crap, not like what it shows in the picture, and if it were a different desk it would look exactly the same. I'll know it's time to retire ME when I can't get my drawers off.

  12. dont listen to nobody,,,youre too old to be told what to do and "what you want"... lol

  13. Hey Jerry, I feel the same way about a lot of my things. Including furniture and even some old shoes. My wife always says, some people (meaning me) just get in a rut and never change anything. I don't think it's a rut, I like to feel comfortable with my things. I like the desk, yes, it could a little work, but it looks comfortable...

  14. Before I looked at any other comments, I'd framed this one: Somewhere near you there's a furniture restorer who is wondering where his next business is going to come from. You're the answer to his (her) prayer.

  15. So tell me again why you NEED a desk? Beyond something to hold your computer and a drawer for your pens and sticky notes I mean. Go with one of those glass table jobs that you can see the new carpet through and contemplate your toes while you're thinking of something to write.

    My husband thinks HE needs his big desk, too, but for some reason, every time I buy a long table, he slaps his laptop on it and pulls up a chair.