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Family Photos: The Ultimate Workplace Distraction

Many people keep pictures at work of their loved ones. The idea, I think, is to remind yourself why you’re toiling away your life, instead of enjoying it.

Without photographs, too many people would throw up their hands and say “What in the world am I doing in this godforsaken hellhole? Life’s short enough as it is! I should be traveling across the country, or lounging on the beach, instead of wasting my time slaving away in this stuffy office!”

Photos at Work

I keep a picture at work of my scraggly old cat. His visual presence is a constant reminder that, despite all evidence to the contrary, I do indeed have a purpose in life. (Which is to feed him — naturally.)

But if they have a photograph on their desk, they can look down and say “Oh, that’s right — I have a spouse and children depending on me. Looks like I’m stuck here after all. Guess I should take back that e-mail telling my boss to pound sand.”

I keep a picture at work of my cat for that very reason. (I would keep a picture of my girlfriend, but nonexistent women don’t photograph well.)

Whenever I feel overworked and frustrated and on the verge of storming out, my cat’s smug, whiskery face reminds me that I have to earn money to buy his food. The mangy bastard’s depending on me, after all.

Not that he returns the favor. It’s only on rare occasions that he deposits a mouse on the back porch … and even then, he eats all the best parts, leaving only a skull and a nibbled torso for me to feast upon.

Perhaps if he kept a picture of me in his Igloo — one where I’m wearing a needy, helpless expression — he’d work a little harder to keep me in the lap of luxury.

Some people keep family pictures at work as a distraction. As if Facebook and Twitter (and even the texture of the ceiling) somehow aren’t enough.

Seriously, is there anybody who’s lacking for distractions at work? Some days — particularly Monday mornings — my desk’s particle-board surface is enough to command my undivided attention (never mind my nonexistent girlfriend, whom I dream about often).

Besides, if your work life’s so horrific that you need a loved one’s constant presence to instill you with the fortitude to soldier on … then maybe you should consider changing jobs. Just saying.

I once had a co-worker who kept a picture on her desk of a ruggedly handsome young man.

“Boyfriend?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “I have no idea who he is.”

I crossed my arms. “Explain.”

“Well,” she explained, “when I bought the frame, that was the picture that came with it. I thought the model was cute, so I decided to keep him. It gives me something nice to look at all day, adding a little enjoyment to my otherwise sad and empty life.”

“That’s pathetic,” I said.

She glared. “This coming from a guy whose only picture is of a cat.”

It’s almost obligatory now to keep family pictures at work. People think you’re odd if you don’t.

“No pictures? Don’t you have a family?”

“No, I have nobody. I’m orphan who’s all alone in the world — sort of like Oliver Twist. And thanks so much for reminding me. Excuse me while I crawl into the fetal position under my desk and sob.”

It’s almost as if we keep pictures of our families to prove to our co-workers — and to ourselves — that we’re capable of being loved by others.

“How does anyone stand that Allen guy? You know, the tall dweeb who works down the hall?”

“Well, he can’t be all bad. Apparently, if that photo on his desk is to be believed, he’s at least got a cat that likes him … sort of.”

(Yeah, right. Shows how much they know. If my cat really liked me, he’d leave me a whole mouse, and not just the ravaged entrails.)

Why do we insist on annoying our co-workers by keeping family photos on our desks? After all, it’s not as if we keep photos of our co-workers at home on the nightstand.

“Who’s that, honey?”

“That’s Bill from accounting, sweetheart.”

“And just why is his picture on our nightstand?”

“What’s the problem? It’s a nice photo. He’s even wearing a suit and tie.”

“But he’s a guy. And he’s not a member of the family.”

“So? Why do you always have to get so jealous, babe? Your picture’s on my desk at work, and Bill doesn’t complain. In fact, I’m starting to wonder if it’s you who’s the problem here.”

Some people say they bring pictures to work because they want to make their workspace more “homey” and “comfortable.”

And therein lies the problem. By its very definition, a “workspace” is a sinister, terrifying place that doesn’t lend itself to such “homey” touches as family photographs. It’s like bringing a vase of flowers to liven up a torture chamber.

“Those are pretty roses, Muriel. Thank you so much! Go ahead and set them on the rack, where everyone can appreciate them. That’s it — right there on the end by the manacles and chains. Lovely, just lovely.”

As for me, my desk is looking a little bare. I’ll be adding a picture of a beautiful young lady next to the photo of my cat. Her warm smile and radiant face are sure to help me trudge through even the most stressful of days.

Not that I have a clue who she is, of course. But her picture came with the frame.

Just don’t tell my cat. He might get jealous — and if he does, he’ll eat all the entrails.

One comment on “Family Photos: The Ultimate Workplace Distraction

  1. […] Family Photos: The Ultimate Workplace Distraction […]


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