In the introduction to J.K. Rowling’s amusing short book Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them, pseudonymously ascribed to one Newt Scamander, there is an intriguing footnote on page xxiii that discusses that the Centaur Liaison Office is an inside joke at the Ministry of Magic, such that anyone said to have been sent to the Centaur Office is soon to be fired. These jokes, one might imagine, are most fun for people when they are not the ones being sent to such an office. When one is looking at the magical world of Harry Potter , it is one thing to laugh at the fate of someone being sent to an office that no one ever uses, as that ought to be a clear sign that someone is in disfavor with the ministry. When one is given a job that has nothing to do, that is usually a sure sign that someone is trying to encourage a resignation or is being set up for failure, something that anyone can see on a page or on a screen and find to be a somewhat humorous situation to happen, especially if someone is deserving of it.
What is entertaining in fiction is not always as enjoyable in life. Where I work, I happen to have a cube right across from a particularly cursed office. The curse is one that many people in corporate environments are likely to well understand–none of the inhabitants of that office remain long. The office is reserved for the person in charge of operations where I work, and no one has been able to long endure in that office, none for longer than a year. Occupant after occupant has gone into the office with high hopes and desires for change and growth, and over the course of a year or less, all have exited the job, and the company, in search of other opportunities elsewhere, most of them far more subdued and far more stressed out. Given the fact that this curse has lasted at least three years, it would not be any stretch of the imagination at all, even though I must admit mine is quite fertile, to say that the office could use a good exorcist. Now, I am not sure how one would best go about finding an office exorcist, given that there are likely to be few people trained in such an esoteric and eccentric field and a fairly high demand for such people in light of the way that human beings tend to haunt places through patterns and behaviors.
Nor am I greatly familiar with what sort of rituals that an exorcist would use to purge the evil from an office so that its inhabitants could dwell in peace, as that is not an area of study and practice to which I have applied thus far in life. Given my life experience, getting rid of demons and troubles would be a rather practical aim, albeit one that I have shown no particular capacity for nor any great knowledge in at present . Nor would it immediately be clear if the exorcism had been successful, the capacity of people to delude themselves by believing things to be better when they are not being as advanced as it is. Perhaps there might be an alleviation of the gloom and the grim battle of despair the office holds for its occupants. It is likely that the true result would be something that would have to be something that takes time–if said occupant of the office is still in full possession of their head of hair, their sanity and wits and good cheer and their job in one year’s time, then the curse has been removed and the office dweller can work in peace. That is, of course, a best case scenario of what would be hoped for from such an effort.
Now, some people might think that performing an exorcism might be a bit drastic. After all, we cannot expect actual, literal evil spirits to be inhabiting small offices and driving their inhabitants to the edge of reason and beyond, sending them into the sloughs of despair and out of the door. Instead, it might simply be that the expectations of the position and the demands placed upon the people in that office are too great, that the desire for change bangs against too many walls from employees resistant to change and from systems of management and observation as well as of remuneration that are ill-equipped to spur people to do that which is most beneficial for the organization as a whole. Perhaps what is needed instead is some soul-searching, some reflection, and some exploration into what is under the office’s authority and what kind of barriers to growth and improvement are faced and what resources are available to overcome those barriers. Perhaps what is needed is that people be reasonable and not expect miracles from executives in an office. On second thought, let’s call the exorcist, as that would be easier than changing our mindset and our expectations for such offices.
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