Confessions of an Undercounter Lurker

I’m an ice cream addict, and my nephew recently offered to let me hide under the Dairy Queen counter so he could feed me any treats he’d made wrong.  Little did he know that lurking under counters is not a new activity for me.  (And I didn’t enlighten him.  There are some things a fifteen-year-old doesn’t need to know.)

If you’d told me twenty years ago that I’d spend a substantial amount of time on my knees under co-workers’ desks, I’d probably have slapped you.  And a few years later, I’d have had to apologize.  Because I ended up doing exactly that.

Wait a minute.  If you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking, not exactly that.  Jeez.

For a lot of years, the joke around the office was, “If you can’t find Diane, look under your desk”.  I was working as a network administrator, and I spent far too much time hunched under desks, connecting and disconnecting various computer-related plugs and cables.

Aside from the carnivorous dust bunnies, I didn’t mind having to crawl around on the floor frequently.  I hate dressing up, and it gave me an excuse to never wear a skirt to work (or any particularly nice clothes, for that matter).

And it was peaceful down there.  Nice and dark and quiet.  Sometimes it was tempting to just hole up for the day and spout incomprehensible technical jargon if challenged.  Kind of like a deranged techno-troglodyte:  “Back!  Back, I say!  Or I’ll ping your IP ‘til your CAT5 sizzles like an electrocuted snake!  I’ll FDISK your drive ‘til it can’t find its FAT with both hands!  RAM!  FAP!  Buwahahaha!”

I can’t understand why my coworkers always seemed… wary.

I’ve actually hidden under a desk to avoid people, too.  I prefer to call it “a clever strategic decision”, not “cowardice”, but you can form your own judgement.

I was hiding from my ex-husband.  Who had just encountered my brand-new boyfriend at the door to my house.  There was a dog and a bag of cherries involved.  Let’s just say it was complicated.

I couldn’t decide whether it would be worse to make an appearance and potentially exacerbate the situation, or to get caught huddling under my desk.  How do you explain hiding like a kid, when you’re thirty-three years old?  “Um, I just dropped something…”  Ten minutes ago, when the doorbell rang for the first time.  Yeah, right.

Anyway, I didn’t get caught, both the dog and the cherries ended up where they belonged, and both males departed unscathed, if not unruffled.  I like to think I made the right decision on that one.

I’m going to skip the Dairy Queen gig, though.  Wouldn’t want this undercounter thing to become a habit.

Any other lurkers out there?


As Charles points out in the comments, you can’t just leave a situation with an ex-husband, new boyfriend, a dog, and a bag of cherries without explanation.  So go for it.  Use your imagination, and drop your best explanation of “what *might* have been” in the comments below.  I’ll pick a winner next Wednesday and send out a (probably not so) magnificent prize.

18 thoughts on “Confessions of an Undercounter Lurker

  1. I’m also a ice cream addict. My favourites are Ben and Jerry ‘s phish food, Kelly’s of Cornwall’s cherry chocolate brownie, or our local Indian restaurant’s homemade coconut ice cream. Or mum’s homemade strawberry. Nom nom nom.


  2. Pingback: Not Dressed Up And No Place To Go | Diane Henders

  3. I think I did a similar job to you, Diane, where I had to crawl, no burrow, underneath banks of desks to get to power supplies, or network cables, that needed changing or rearranging. I had to do it dressed up though (not as a chicken, I feel I have to add, but in my office clothes). I was very often seen with dusty knees and elbows. Once, I was bitten by something on my left wrist. I still have the scar to this day. I agree though, that in those out of reach, out of the way places, it was nice and quiet!


  4. Personally, I think the computers at the Dairy Queen need fixing. But then, I’m a ice cream addict too. Trying to quit the habit, though, since I just discovered I’m allergic to dairy 😦

    Your ex brought over his dog to leave you a “gift” and the new boyfriend brought you a real gift–of cherries. The new boyfriend caught the ex in the act and read him the riot act. Ex left you alone after that (mostly) and you threw yourself in the new boyfriend’s arms.

    (Dang, I gotta get to work on the new book).

    Great blog!


  5. This was great, by the way – and yes, while pulling cable and finding out why things weren’t connected, I too have spent some quality time in the dark down there.

    When I worked at State Department (the big one, in Washington DC), you can imagine what someone on a ladder to pull cable through the ceiling, or under your desk to pull cable through the floor, would be wearing, right? Yeah, coat and tie. This is the State Department; we don’t care if you’re cleaning the commodes. Coat and tie.

    At my corporate HQ, I’ve gotten a few great lines and comebacks with all that; my favorite is still a conversation with my (now former) boss, who in addition to being highly competent just happened to also be a nice-looking and really funny woman:
    Me: “Hey K_, can I get under your desk for a minute?”
    Her: “Well! Sure Cupcake, I’ve been feeling a little desperate…”
    I *do* miss working with her. (She’s still around, just promoted out of my management chain.)

    Last, I’ll mention that my first job was scooping for Baskin-Robbins. You NEVER forget. I can still taste it when I close my eyes…


  6. Spouting technical jargon… that was lingua franca in college. HTTP status codes were the favorites. everyone clueless was a 404, forbidden fruits (like cherries ) were 403s….. ooh that reminds me…

    Your brand new boy friend ought to know that cherry topped hot dogs dont not make romantic gifts or good first impression especially on ex-husbands 🙂


  7. Ex-husband, new boyfriend, a dog, and a bag of cherries — and you’re just going to leave it at that? Really? I might as well start the protest right now, because people are going to want details.


    • As with many things, the explanation isn’t nearly as interesting as the lead-in, so… yeah, I think I’ll leave it at that. My readers are an imaginative bunch.

      In fact, let’s make it a contest. Come up with your best explanation, and drop it into the comments. I’ll give a prize for the most creative idea. 🙂


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