Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In This Office, 'Multitasking' Is Part of the Job Description

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In This Office, 'Multitasking' Is Part of the Job Description

Article excerpt

I work in a downtown Manhattan neighborhood called SoHo - short for south of Houston. (Texans, please note: We New Yorkers pronounce the street "HOUSE-ton," not as you do.)

My office is small. There are five of us, two of whom are lawyers. I am executive director of the organization, which provides pro bono legal services to poor people.

There are lots of things I do at the office outside any job description. In a small office, everyone has to pitch in.

I enjoy performing a multitude of tasks. For example, I will write a proposal for funding - definitely a part of the job description - and then take it to the post office to mail, having no confidence in the stuffed mailboxes on the streets of SoHo, where collections are few and far between.

If fortune shines and the request for funds produces money, I take the check to the bank and deposit it. My favorite work-time activity is depositing checks. My least favorite is writing them.

Sometimes I answer the telephone. "Oh, answering the phones today?" chortles the caller at the other end of the line.

"Beats cleaning the windows," I respond.

Along with my colleagues, on Tuesdays I empty wastebaskets into large plastic bags, drag the bags down the hallway to the elevator, and then take them down to the street for the weekly trash pickup.

I communicate with the building owner concerning leaks from the apartment above us. The nice people who live there have an overzealous housekeeper when it comes to watering plants. Some of the runoff lands on my desk.

Cleaning up around the office the other day, I picked up a Manila file folder from the floor. But it turned out not to be a file folder at all. I found myself attached to a sticky mouse trap. Disengaging proved an arduous task. I must speak to the building owner about the continuing mouse problem. (My legal training helps in such delicate negotiations.)

Administrative chores bring me in touch with a variety of people: the window cleaner, for example.

We are on the second floor of an 1870 cast-iron building. The windows are nine feet high. When the windows need cleaning, I go down to the street to find the window cleaner who does jobs around SoHo. …

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