The local go-to guy for practically anything, by the name of Dave, told me I did in fact have a desk assigned. It just didn't look like that. Imagine a long, narrow office (about 3x8m) with desks on either side. The last desk in front of the window is entirely obscured by piles of chairs. The last desk on the right is heavily besieged by chairs too, but one can get to it. It clearly is in use; it has all sorts of things standing on it, the chests of drawers are locked, the filing cabinets are full, and there are paintings everywhere. The cupboard next to it is fulled to the brim, and over the brim, with paintings too. Under the desk are more paintings.
Some of the paintings we didn't manage to fit inside a box. She is clearly quite good.
That desk was mine. I did not recognize it as an empty desk, but I was assured that the previous user, the painter, had already left a year or so ago. She had not left on good terms; the term "booted out" fell more than once. Whether she had left in a hurry, or had not had the means of shipping all that stuff home, I don't know, but it was clear there was still a fully functioning office/atelier there.
The Head of School, Colin, apologized for the state it all was in. He conjured up some boxes, and started to pack all the paintings. That wasn't an easy task. There were so many! We looked in the filing cabinets too: more paint than you can shake a stick at. Dave and Colin tried some keys to see if we could open the drawers too; that didn't work, but some force applied through a screwdriver did work. We found more paint, a radio, a laptop, a tape recorder, stationery, and even a drawer full of food.
It took quite a while to pack most of that and chuck the rest away! It was starting to look like a desk again. And with Dave's help I could even log in. Things were becoming more normal!
The next day the chairs went. It REALLY looks like a decent office now! And there are still four large cardboard boxes with stuff that should go elsewhere, and even after all that packing there are paintings behind the cupboard, but I can live with that. I have an office! And a desk! And a working computer! And I can even get to all of that without too much effort. And on Thursday I went to the information desk with my key card that still didn't open doors (and had my name wrong) to have it replaced with something better. I immediately got one. And on Friday it worked! I can now walk into the corridor, and even the building, and back in, at will! The next step is to get a parking permit for a day; then I can bring all my university stuff in. That's still sitting in boxes in my lounge. And when all of that is festooning my office I might start to feel like a proper York employee!
The result of half a week of labour: a decent office!