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 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
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
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
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 .