One look at his spotless, polished desk and you knew Ted was anal retentive. His desk held minimal paperwork that lined up at ninety degree angles. Paperclips each protruded exactly a quarter inch around the rim of a magnetic holder and if you pulled open his top drawer you’d find pens and pencils segregated, writing tips to the right -always to the right.
Now, before I throw stones from a glass house, I’ll admit that I, too, have my “uptight” ways. (I never step on sidewalk cracks and always hit my pillow twice before my head touches it -arguably normal, I say.)
Ted, however, was ridiculous. And his employees did ridicule him because he was a mean and rigid boss. Fortunately, I worked for the company that Ted hired to manage his computer systems, so his tyranny affected me less than it did his people.
Ted had a paper sign the size of a fortune-cookie fortune centered (of course) at the bottom of his computer monitor. It said, “Do NOT touch screen.” A mini box of Kleenex sat off to the side for emergencies.
One day while helping Ted with an Excel spreadsheet formula I made the mistake of touching cell C5 on the screen with my finger to reference it. I think the reason he then grabbed his pant leg was to avoid swatting my hand. He smiled at me -not a friendly smile, but the appalled sort of smile one gets from a gallery curator after having sneezed too close to a canvas. “Please don’t ever touch the monitor,” he said. I remember he blinked his eyes fast during the smile -as if doing so kept his temper in check.
I pulled my hand away, thankful he didn’t wound it, and resisted the urge to suggest a course of therapy for him.
The next week when I visited, Ted had a larger sign the size of a playing card at the top of his monitor with “Do NOT touch the screen,” in red. It was obnoxious.
Ted traveled often. During his next trip, his employees hid his Kleenex and dabbed a smiley face made of fingerprints on his screen -not faint smudges, these were after-cheeseburger-no-napkin fingerprints that forensics people dream of. The greasy face smiled whether the monitor was on or off. I would have paid money to watch Ted discover it, but I missed it. I did notice that from then on, Ted locked his office while traveling.
Smudges on a monitor are common and rarely a disaster. Cleaning them with incorrect tools, however, risks a disaster. I use cheap, micro-fiber cloths made specifically for the task and available at any computer store. A soft, water-moistened towel (not wet) does wonders too. If you are like Ted and use Kleenex, avoid those that contain lotion.
Go ahead and touch your monitor screen. Point at something. Dab a smiley face in your screen’s dust. It’s fun, liberating and don’t worry, it’ll clean up nice.