The Office, Day 1


After over 30 years of leasing, our church is finally building our own facility.? On Tuesday, a moving company moved our offices into the new building. ?The rest of the building isn?t finished, but the offices are ready enough for us to start working there. I wasn?t in town Wednesday when everyone else moved in, so yesterday was my day to organize my office.

I walk in and find the other 2 pastors, Joe and my son Stephen, have already organized their offices. Stephen?s collection of rare and weird knickknacks sits atop his alphabetically organized bookshelf, mocking me. ?The crying pumpkin seems sad at how much work lies ahead of me. ?The stuffed bacon pillow and the Francis of Assisi statue smile condescendingly as if to say you?ll never be as organized as Stephen.

I enter my office. ?Boxes strewn everywhere. ?One of the secretaries started to arrange my commentaries but quit because she didn?t know my ?system.? ?My system’s so complex the Dewey decimal pales in comparison. ?Mine relies heavily on the book cover color and placing the most impressive books (with titles like The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by John Owen or The Grinch Who Stole Christmas) at eye level to make a good first impression.

Before organizing I must strengthen myself up with a cup of coffee. ?I discover there?s no running water at the building yet, which means no coffee.? When one of our secretaries finds me on the kitchenette floor in fetal position weeping, she volunteers to run to the old building for water, coffee, grinder, and all the other things necessary for ministry. ?Ok, I think I?ll be alright. ?If I can survive till she gets back.

A little later, coffee steaming in mug on my desk, I begin to organize my books.? I start with some semblance of a plan, but after 45 minutes, with multiple boxes of books still unpacked, I throw them on the shelves willy-nilly. ?I?ll organize them later, like in 2017. ?Better have some more coffee.

Books on shelves, I now try to get on the Internet. ?Of course I need to enter complicated codes, passwords, moon launch data and protein chains to connect. ?So I take my laptop to techno-guru Stephen, who?s reading one of his well-organized books beneath the gaze of the crying pumpkin.

He hooks me up, and I open Gmail to find I have 259 emails. ?Apparently I?ve been hacked. ?The virus or grubworm that infected me mailed all my contacts inviting them to invest in my new Wildebeest farm in Africa. ?So multitudes of concerned friends are emailing me back to tell me they think I got hacked. ?I think it was the ?Yo, wassup?? in the subject line that tipped them off.

I change my password to something more complex than before – I guess using ?Mark? wasn?t a good idea – and paste my entire contacts list into an email apologizing for any inconvenience my Wildebeest proposal caused them.? As soon as I hit “send,” a message pops up saying I can?t mail to more than 100 people at a time, and because I tried, I must be a spammer and Gmail shuts down my ability to send email for 24 hours.

Lying on the floor in a fetal position weeping, I hear my secretary buzz to tell me there?s a call for me on our new phone system. Of course, I missed the phone system training Wednesday, so I begin frantically pushing buttons and lights at random and cut off my caller. ?Minutes later, my secretary buzzes me. ??He called back and he?s on line 701.? ?Whatever happened to lines 1,2 and 3? We have only 7 on staff. ?Why do we have a line 701?

I punch every button again, and cut him off again. ?The third time he calls, my secretary gets his number so I can call him back on my cell phone.

I check my email again.? I still can?t send any. ?20 more people have mailed to say I got hacked. But one person wants to invest $5000 dollars in my Wildebeest farm. ?I guess the day wasn’t a total loss.

book photo by jaymiek

Never Miss Any Goodness

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  • Dave Wilson says:


    Don't let those organized people break you down. The willy-nilly system of shelf arrangement has always served me well. (Or was that the Milli Vanilli?)

    Speaking of tech nightmares, I switched to a self-hosted blog and fear that I've lost my precious subscribers, including one of my favorites, Mark Altrogge. Subscribe to the new site and I promise to take another look at your Wilderbeast proposal (fingers crossed).

    Enjoy your new digs!


  • Mark Altrogge says:

    I just subscribed Dave. I assume you meant sign up for email notifications, which is what I did. Looking forward to more great reading on bacon, guts, mustaches and manliness.

  • chris says:

    I'm in the fetal position – rolling on the floor laughing. I know it's been tough, but your good humor about it all lifted my spirits today, so thanks.

    Oh, and that crying pumpkin is the weirdest thing ever.

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Glad you got a laugh Chris. And that pumpkin really is weird. Why would anybody make such a thing?

  • Dave Wilson says:


    You could use the RSS option if you prefer.

    I wouldn't want you to miss my upcoming post out of Isaiah 20. (One more lame attempt to get fired as a caregroup leader.)

    By the by, Josh Harris is going to be at our church this Sunday. Should be a good time!


  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Can't wait to read it. Hey, we need our Care Group Leaders so much they're in for life. Unless they commit murder or something.

  • Joanne says:

    RE:YO! Wassup? Not much going' down here in the hood…the burg that is..
    This whole scenario is perhaps funnier than anything you've ever tried to do on purpose….

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Hey Joanne, you don't think I can talk the jive talk, eh? Just cause I'm old doesn't mean I can't give a shout out to my homies, that's fo shizzle, whatever that means.

  • jun says:

    Mark, I think you're a normal kind of guy, everyone around you isn't. HEHEHE.
    "We have only 7 on staff. Why do we have a line 701?" Maybe a sign of greater things to come :-)

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Jun, I agree I'M the normal one. Wow, you think 701 could be prophetic? We're gonna need a bigger building…then I'll have to pack up and move again!

  • Victoria says:

    I loved this post….Hopefully, for your sanity, Day 2 doesn't leave us with so much to laugh at. Enjoy the new office.

  • Since you missed the training, you missed that each family in the church is getting their own line. We're line 403 if you need to get a hold of us.

  • Jack Wilson says:

    I've been in my "new" office for well over two years now and still need to organize my books. Way too many of the really impressive looking ones are way too low. I can answer calls and make calls, cannot transfer and let's not talk about hold. Still get the speaker phone button confused with the hang-up button which, BTW, why is there one anyway when you can just, you know, hang up?. Probably something I really don't want to know!
    Loved the post.

  • chris says:

    What do the crying pumpkin and the Mona Lisa have in common?

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Got it Adam! Thanks!

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Thanks Victoria, you never know. We still don't have running toilets, so who knows what could happen.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Jack, you sound like a man after my own heart.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    I have absolutely no idea. What?

  • chris says:

    Both have no eyebrows

    …and both created by obviously brilliant artists

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows? I never noticed. My art lesson for the day.

  • Brandy says:

    Oh, wow! I can totally sympathize. At the close of our school year I look around and think, “YIKES! What the world happened here?!?”

    If you want to see something that will make you feel better, be sure to visit our family’s blog at Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood. I think you’ll be encouraged…

    I just found your blog yesterday looking for free audios to help teach/learn scriptures. I love the blog, and thank you for the scripture songs. We listened to all of them today. :)

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Hi Brandy,

    I checked out your blog – I like The Law of Decreasing Organization (I think that's what you called it) – pretty funny. If you like, email me your address and I'll send you a complimentary set of Hide the Word CDs.

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Hey Briana, The message is going to be about not having expectations of good messages. Can’t wait to see you guys!

  • Briana says:

    Hysterical…for me to read, though I'm sure not for you to live. ;)
    Can't wait to see the new building. We're planning to travel out for the first service and are looking forward to it. Better be a good message that morning! ;)

  • jun says:

    I hope so, or better yet I pray so. But you first have got to figure our how to use your phone. hehehe

  • Caroline says:

    Well i thought i was having a tough time adjusting to my new job as a Secretary; but i guess you beat me to it :) Thank you for making me laugh, was havin one of those crazy Mondays at work….

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Glad to know I'm not the only one, Caroline!

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    You're right, Vickie. He must laugh at lots of my prayers….

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Thanks Fred. I do have good light- 2 windows…

  • @mjlacore says:

    This my first reading of your blog, which I discovered via Tim Challies' site. You have probably seen this before, but your bookshelf issues reminded me of this video.

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