Co-worker’s death leaves woman wondering: how long until I can ask for her desk?

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Working in an office in the 21st century is stressful – often, we wish our co-workers dead. But what actually happens when they do die?

Jenny Coles, 28, from Leeds got a firsthand answer to that question when her co-worker, Patricia Devlin, 42, passed away suddenly last month.

“I was happy to organise the office wake”, said Jenny. “Well, I shouldn’t say happy… I’ve been wearing black all week,” a colour she “happens to look great in”, but insisted this was just a coincidence.

Jenny, having worked with Patricia for four years, now feels entitled to Patricia’s workspace, which boasts better lighting and “maybe even enough space for a mini fridge one day”.

“It’s what she would have wanted.”

Jenny, however, has learned that the etiquette around this sort of thing can be tricky to navigate.

“It’s different with her food; those are perishables, so people just help themselves,” explained Jenny, scowling at her co-worker, Nigel from payroll.

It hasn’t been a cakewalk for Claire Scott, 24, the head of HR at Jenny’s office, either. “They’re all suddenly best friends with Patricia – it’s exhausting”. “Good desks are hard to come by,” Claire elaborated, “but it’s really shameful what these people are willing to do for an ergonomic keyboard and a couple of extra outlets”.

Jenny fears that if she simply asks her manager for Patricia’s desk, they might think that Jenny “killed her for it or something…”

“I’ve said too much”, she adds. Jenny could not be reached for comment after those statements.

Insiders reveal that Patricia’s desk was given to a new starter, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances only days later.

Olga Koch

Olga Koch is a self-proclaimed stand-up comedian and performance artist. She's been on BBC Radio and on stages of various sizes.