Pop your head into John Creed’s office on the second floor of the Department of Political Science annex on 26 Coming Street, and you might notice the Arabic alphabet chart, the hand-stitched bird on the tapestry from Uganda, the vintage Superman poster or the world map hanging on the walls.
You might see the corkboard with everything from a miniature keffiyeh a student brought back from the West Bank to a black-and-white photo of his beloved late golden retriever, Rudy, pinned among the collections of conference lanyards and bumper stickers reading “Lights Out – Sea Turtles Dig the Dirt,” “Stop Bitching, Start a Revolution” and “Keep Alaska Wild.” Or maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of the bobblehead of Bark, one of the now-retired Charleston RiverDogs mascots, perched atop a bookshelf next to a toothbrush in a mug.
What you might not see in Creed’s office is a surface of any kind: Stacks of papers, magazines, books and journals cover every flat, horizontal space available. Neat and tidy stacks tower among precarious, lopsided stacks – one cavalier placement having thrown everything askew. You might not even notice the desk – hidden as it is beneath students’ papers, volumes of Political Science Quarterly and issues of The Nation. If you’re not looking closely, you might even miss the man behind the desk, a tuft of hair poking out from behind the papers the only visible clue that he’s there.
Still, the associate professor of political science swears that he knows his way around every pile, memento and tchotchke in his office.
“Sometimes I do get lost behind a big pile – especially when I’m grading papers,” laughs Creed, who settled into the space when he first came to the College 27 years ago. “It’s all organized in my mind. I know it looks messy, but there really is a system – even if no one else can see it.”