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And the (Ahem) Winner Is...

When an advertisement came across her desk last month for the Messiest Desk Contest, Felicia Leveille, administrative assistant in French language and literature, knew the obvious candidate.

Down the hall from her office in Wright Hall is a 12-by-12-foot room that houses a collection of papers, books, office supplies and academic debris that the most devoted of compulsive hoarders would admire: the office of Peter I. Rose, Sophia Smith Professor of Sociology and Anthropology.

And inside his infamous clutter of an office, which dutifully houses his decades worth of forms, letters, writings, research documents, periodicals -- and multiple copies of all -- was the winner of the Messiest Desk Contest. The winning desk, that is, was presumed to be somewhere underneath its piled contents.

The Messiest Desk Contest was coordinated by Abeille Consulting, a professional organizing service in Amherst. The contest was conducted among all Five College faculty and staff and, as such, one must presume some stiff competition.

Leveille urged Rose to submit his desk. “As soon as I saw that contest flier, I knew he was a sure winner,” she says.

Entrants were required to submit a photo of their desk along with a letter or poem “expressing your plea for help,” says the contest flier.

When contest organizer April Gallagher, who runs Abeille Consulting, received pictures of Rose’s office along with a poem he wrote that encapsulates the occasion, she had her winner.

“Your poem expresses a desire and willingness to have order in your office and the photos clearly demonstrate the need,” she wrote in her congratulatory letter informing Rose of his dubious award. “I hope you’re not too disappointed that you’re the winner.”

With his distinction, Rose will receive six hours of organizing help from professionals at Abeille, plus a gift certificate for Staples Office Products, which partly sponsored the contest.

Together, promises Gallagher, “we will turn your office into a space where you will be productive, efficient, at peace and no longer the subject to any of your colleagues’ snide comments! You’ll be able to find every paper (and book), you’ll be aware of all the gems you’re holding on to, and you won’t waste any more time searching for misplaced items.”

For his part, Rose, who will retire at the end of this year, insists that he knows the precise location of every item in his crowded office, and can put his hand on any piece of information at a moment’s notice.

He welcomes Gallagher’s attempt to straighten up the office he has occupied for 41 years. But, understandably, he’s skeptical. If, in six hours, the Abeille professionals are unabl .

 
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