MINNEAPOLIS—U.S. Bureau of Departmental Operations secretary Helen Lastrom, 38, is slated to personalize her workplace, a six-foot square cubicle delineated by three grayish-brown office dividers, in the Bureau’s Minneapolis office this week.
Her plans include the adornment of the divider, desk and computer monitor’s outer edges with items intended to “brighten” the workplace and remind her of friends, good times and family, or just to make her laugh.
“I enjoy humor,” Lastrom said.
Lastrom was hired by the Bureau last week after passing civil service test 12E, which increased her rating class and qualified her for one-level caste promotion. Her previous position was with the City Office of Management and Operations Systems.
In many ways, her new job will be similar, but Lastrom intends to adorn her workspace differently.
“I’m really excited about this new job, because I think I’m going to put my crazy little Mexican puppet with the bobbing head to the left of my phone.” According to Lastrom, at her previous job, the Mexican puppet had been situated at the right of her phone.
“I got this when my girlfriend Pam and I went to Mexico after graduating from correspondence school,” she said. “We had so much fun in Mexico. I hope I get to go again some day.”
Lastrom is also slated to hang several humorous posters on her wall, including one depicting her favorite cartoon character, Cathy, tearing her hair out and yelling, “I hate Mondays!”
“I can relate to that poster so much,” Lastrom said. “I look at that poster and it’s like, ‘I swear that’s me.’”
If Lastrom passes her three-month probationary period and is secured for a six-month employment contract at full pay and limited benefits, she indends to personalize her workspace even more.
“Right now money is really tight. But I’d love to buy a little plant, even though I’m nowhere near a window. I just love plants.”
Lastrom also plans to put some word-balloon stickers on some photos she took at her friend Mary’s wedding and tape them to her desktop.
“Those photos are so funny,” she said. “Mary can be such a riot.”
Lastrom is expected to put a Far Side appointment calendar on her desk within the week.
“The Far Side is completely off the wall, just like me,” Lastrom said. “All my friends say I’m crazy and really different, just like that cartoon.”
The television show Saturday Night Live will also provide humor for Lastrom’s divider wall—a greeting card featuring “Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey” is reportedly in the works.
Lastrom also plans to pin up photos of her 3-year-old son, Peter, as well as drawings he made.
“He is just the most important thing in my life,” Lastrom said. “I wish I could spend more time with him.”
Lastrom said she believes anyone who comes into her workspace is destined to be entertained by the decor, which she said perfectly reflects her unique personality.
Said Lastrom: “Whether it’s somebody from shipping coming to get a purchase order approved or a packing slip verified, or whether it’s my boss coming in here to put me through a performance review, they should enjoy their visit.”