Leah Farmer

Personal perspectives on faith, literature, and life.

The President’s Closet

“This guy hasn’t done a great job. So let’s give the other guy a chance.”

This is a sentiment I’ve seen over the past couple weeks on blogs, social media and have overheard in conversation. I get the sentiment. But I find it infuriating.

Let me explain in simple terms…or a mixed metaphor for those of you who enjoy attempting to follow my crazy thought processes.

Have you ever cleaned a closet that had gotten so out of control that when you started what seemed like it would be a quick clean up, you soon realized it was a much bigger undertaking?

I have. And in these cases I often find that in order to get organized, I first have to empty the contents of the closet. In doing so the mess I make seems worse than when I’d first walked into the room. But it often takes a lot of unpacking to repack properly.

I’ve spent most of my career unpacking other people’s closets in order to try to put them back together properly and in order. I’ve made a living understanding the messy closets of companies and their clients, retooling bad and inefficient processes, forcing new thinking on old beliefs, and designing programs to assist after the fact with maintenance of the now organized closet. Through the years I’ve learned some pretty basic and consistent lessons:

1. The closet is ALWAYS messier than you think when you first open the doors
2. Unpacking the closet takes time, space, and usually money
3. It always takes more time, space, and money than you thought in the first place…no matter how good you get at unpacking and repacking closets
4. There is usually someone who really really doesn’t want you to unpack the closet because they don’t want you to know how bad it is. So they fight you, put up roadblocks, tell you to go away, and do EVERYTHING in their power to thwart your attempts at change and transformation
5. Often when you get through a couple layers of the closet debris you actually find that the last guy in charge of the closet left some dirty diapers or a full cat litter box in there and things are MUCH stinkier than you originally thought. This usually results in you being forced to back up, regroup, and formulate a new strategy for getting the closet clean.

The other lesson I’ve learned over the years is that there is always some douche-bag who waits until you are knee deep in closet overflow and then says “I could totally do that better!” This person usually waits until others are on the verge of doubting that you know what you are doing…because people DO doubt the closet unpacker about half way into the project. Just as people are CERTAIN that you won’t get the closet back in order in time for bed, the other guy starts talking about all the things you did wrong in unpacking the closet.

“Geez…why would you take the clothes off the hanger. I’d have just laid them on the bed still on the hangers?”
“There wasn’t any need to go through all those boxes. Just throw them away.”
“Why did you start on the left side of the closet. You should ALWAYS start on the right.”
“I’ve unpacked a lot of closets in my day and it’s always gone faster and been cheaper than how she’s doing it!”

Here’s the thing about that guy… if you give him the job half way through, he’ll spend at least half of his time trying to figure out what you’ve done because he hasn’t been paying attention to the detailed work you’ve been doing. He’s been pandering to the crowd who’s watching you nervously. In my experience, this guy has usually said a bunch of stuff that he can’t back up and when push comes to shove, he’ll hope you look away just long enough for him to shove the same piles of crap back into the closet and shut the doors. He will then usually walk away and go find a kitchen drawer and say “Now this drawer is where we should have been spending all of our efforts all along!”

I’ve had the job taken away from me and watched the other guy blow it. ANd I’ve been allowed to stay the course and have seen success. I’ve had ups and downs along the way but once I’ve been assigned to the closet, I’ve never left it in worse shape than when I opened the doors.

Neither has our President.

The closet is in better shape than when he opened the doors.
The closet was in worse shape after the last guy than he expected and the dirty diapers and full litter boxes were more numerous and well hidden than anticipated.
But giving it to the other guy now is NOT a solution.

I’ve voted to let the President finish cleaning this closet…we can discuss moving to the kitchen drawers just as soon as he’s done.

1 Comment

  1. Linda Pearl

    Oh my word!!!! This should go to the New York Times!!!! What a SUPERB analogy!!!! And you didn’t once slag a lady’s high heels 😉 You are a genius!!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>