Chances are, when you catch sight of LACO staffers at a concert, we’re dressed in our Sunday (or Saturday night) best. But today, if you were to walk into LACOheadquarters at the World Trade Center downtown, you’d catch us in old jeans and sneakers, and possibly with a little grime smudged on our faces. That’s because today is our annual Grubby Day, when we largely ignore email (except to finally empty the 2,000 messages in the “Deleted Items” folder), and temporarily put aside work on marketing campaigns and production schedules, to clear out the detritus accumulated over the past season and get things ship-shape for the season to come. As surely as summer follows spring, Grubby Day arrives with the start of LACO’s new fiscal year, and it’s truly a cleansing ritual, in which we figuratively – and sometimes literally – sweep away the cobwebs from our mental and physical work spaces.
After salvaging a few copies of each program, brochure and postcard for the archives, the remaining piles that have taken up residence in our kitchen/storage room go into a jumbo recycling bin. One that gets emptied and re-filled several times, actually. Decade-old copies of grant applications get weeded from over-stuffed filing cabinets…to make room for new ones yet to be filed. We declare amnesty on catching up on 6-month-old copies of journals lurking, neglected, in our in-boxes. Random scraps of paper with now-indecipherable notes are gratefully discarded.
And in the piles of files, we come across random memos from generations of LACO staffers past, such as this slightly cryptic post-it stuck in a completely unrelated donor file: “Nov. 92 – Get picture of Christof with Meet the Music kids.” A daffily charming note to Jeffrey Kahane, after he’d performed the full cycle of Beethoven piano concertos over a weekend in December 2001, begins this way: “Dear Mr. Cruise: Tom, dude, you rock! Okay, Make it Hanks or Brad Pitt, Sam Jackson, even George Clooney if you must, but Mr. Kahane, you have reduced me to a quivering teenage groupie…”
My favorite thing about Grubby Day (aside from the group lunch, when today we got caught up on one staffer’s recent engagement, another’s wedding two weeks ago, and a third’s travels in Central Europe), is how it transforms our working environment. Clean, empty space breeds a kind of creative charisma, and looking around our spiffed-up offices not only instills a sense of order, but renews our energy for the excited rush of activity that the new season has in store for all of us just around the corner.