When I am in my office during the day, I almost always keep my door open. I like that my students and colleagues can stop by any time and chat or ask questions. I'm sure I'd get more done without the interruptions, but I'd much rather have the interactions. I close my door when I have something urgent to accomplish by a deadline and need to minimize interruptions.
Today my door is closed, but not because of a looming deadline. My door is closed because I am being harassed by a random person who walked into the department one day last week, saw my door open, came in, and has made a habit of doing so every day since. His visits have been annoying and it is difficult to get him to leave my office. He's clearly a deeply strange person, but only yesterday did he really disturb me when he asked me for money and became upset when I didn't give him any. Mostly he has been stopping by in the afternoons, but today he was in the department early, asking people where I was, and asking for my contact information because he said he was going to work for me. Everyone who met him was disturbed by their encounter with him and told me to call the police.
I have been very reluctant to call the police. Asking for money is not a crime, and this is a public building. I called the campus police today because my department chair asked me to, but the police were not helpful. The person I talked to said "What do you want us to DO?" I guess I just wanted to see if other people on campus have reported disturbing encounters with this person, and I wanted to make a record of his 'suspicious activities'. The police said to call them if this man comes to my office again.
Yesterday during my disturbing encounter with the strange man, I considered reaching for the phone to call a colleague, but the way I have my office set up is not convenient for such things. I would have had to turn my back on the guy. Also, my crazy visitor was between the office door and me, so I was backed into a corner.
This is my third encounter with a scary crazy person in my office in the past 10 years, and each time I have considered changing the organization of my office, and then I don't. I suppose it is human nature to try to forget about a bad, random experience and hope it won't happen again, but another part of it for me is that I don't want to arrange my office in a really inconvenient way because of anxiety. I have been trying to figure out if there's a way I can arrange my office so that I'm not constantly reminded that it's arranged that way to give me an escape route, but there are some serious architectural limitations to this. But then I think maybe I am being foolish not to rearrange things, since I've had these anxious encounters several times now and perhaps I should learn from experiences.
10 years ago