Among the more than 100 faculty offices at my school on the UMass Amherst campus, the two depicted above may well be the end points on my building’s Oscar Madison-Felix Unger continuum. The professor sporting the Oscar desk (above left) typically takes care of business without much trouble as long as the work at hand stays in his active working space—i.e., on top of everything else. But today’s active workspace can soon become tomorrow’s substratum. To deal with that, the professor periodically has a student assistant or two—in accounting, not archeology or historical geology—wade through the strata and sort the material by subject for assignment to boxes.
His Ungerian counterpart and owner of the desk on the right has no such challenges, requires no such help. And I will forever be in his debt for having nudged me to spiff up my moustache, which to my surprise had been a tad longer on the left than on the right.