What Are You Oddly Protective of?

I realized a few days ago that I’m oddly protective of a piece of furniture. It’s not the furniture itself, really–it’s more about what it represents.

On Saturday I hosted a game day for a number of people who were coming in from out of town to attend an annual game design event I run. 20 people in a condo that snugly seats 16 may have been a bad idea, but it actually worked out just fine.

A few days before the event, I e-mailed the 20 attendees (just those attending my game day, not all 95 attending Design Day) and gave them directions, a few notes about food/drinks, an allergy warning about my cats, etc. I almost sent the e-mail, but then I realized I wanted to add one more instruction. Something I’ve never fully realized before.

I really don’t like it when guests put stuff on my desk.

I’ve mentioned this a few times to the folks who attend my weekly game day. For a while I thought the annoyance came from people who put drinks on my desk–perhaps an innate fear that they’d spill on my computer. But I’ve noticed that I’m just as annoyed when someone puts their phone there, or their keys, or a game.

I finally figured it out.

Think about your desk at work. Picture it in your mind. It’s exactly how you want it to be, right? It’s your space. Depending on your office, it may be your only space.

Now imagine that someone puts their stuff on your desk. How does that feel?

The key difference here is that your desk is probably at your office, while mine is at home in the same room where we play games. So to everyone else, it appears like every other flat surface in the room: It’s a place to put stuff.

So when I wrote to the game day attendees, I included a mention of the sacred space of the desk. And they listened. The desk went intrusion-free for the entire day.

It’s a little weird, I know. But it’s one of those things where I’m glad I realized it and said something or it would continue to bother me.

What are you oddly protective of?