By Terry K.
I was asleep when I heard the door rattle against the frame. My eyes flashed open and I sprung upright in my under-desk sleep space. Was it all over? Had someone come to work early? I peered over my desk, afraid of what I might see. The morning sun burned through the chicken-scratch graffiti of the office’s front door, spilling across the labyrinth of desks spread out before me. There wasn’t a soul in sight. I breathed a sigh of relief. Probably just paranoia. Or maybe not — a breeze blew the front door against its frame, the pygmy-like rattle of a loose door jamb. It was the same sound I heard moments before and would hear countless times in the future but never quite get used to.
A little paranoia goes a long way when you live in a 10-square-feet workstation. I stood up, stretching my limbs toward the sky like a thawing, cryo-preserved humanoid, neck kinked and back stiff. I bent down to deflate my air mattress. The clock read 6:45 a.m. Under normal circumstances I’d still be asleep, but these circumstances were far from normal.
Earlier that week, I had moved into my office. Secretly. I rented out my Venice Beach apartment for the month, packed a few duffels with my clothes and prized belongings, and started taking up residence behind my desk, carefully using each square inch of out-of-sight real estate to store my stuff. Not everyone aspires to have their co-workers catching them at their desk in their tighty-whities—at 6 in the morning. Believing the absolute best-case-scenario reaction to my being there would be supreme awkwardness, I kept the whole thing to myself. Every morning I’d neatly pack away my personal belongings, turning the lights back on and lowering the air conditioning to its too-chilly-for-me 72 degrees—the way they always left it overnight. I’d leave for a morning workout and shower, simultaneously keeping clean and in shape while ensuring I wasn’t always the first to arrive. Occasionally I’d even make myself late to work, blaming the awful L.A. traffic. Just to fit in.