Susan Morrison: The sneaky – and smelly – ways we mark our territory

We all like to have our favourite running machine at the gym (Picture: Ian Georgeson)
We all like to have our favourite running machine at the gym (Picture: Ian Georgeson)
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It’s astonishing how territorial we can get over space that actually isn’t ours, we just happen to sit in it, work out in it or use it week in, week out.

Terrible idea, as anyone who has ever worked in an office will tell you. The desk is the territory of the office worker and must be marked in ways that personalise that little kingdom.

The top must be strewn with indoor plants, family photos, and Gonks. The desk drawers must be cluttered with hand cream, pencil sharpeners and Ryvita. I once sat opposite a woman who had an entire greengrocers in her drawers (what have I said about sniggering?).

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We only found out after she left and we tracked down the stink of decomposing green peppers.

Even your mug has a place designated by habit in the coffee area, and woe betide the fool that shifts that mug without asking. Retribution is usually swift and sneakily British.

Let’s just say your office chair may not be the same height when you get back from the loo.

In hot-desk offices, sneaky tactics are deployed to secure that favourite desk, that comfy chair, that good view of the carpark. Jackets are left hanging on the backs of chairs so long they fade in the sun and I understand a whiffy little trick is to leave odorous trainers under the desk.

It’s the office world equivalent of the sunseeker’s towel left on the best lilos next to the pool.

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