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Thursday, November 20, 2008

That’s A Little Personal, Don’t You Think?

I’ve spent some time wandering about the 47th, 48th, and 49th floors today, checking out our new digs. It’s an incredibly maze-like series of offices and cubes; and like a middle-aged Gretel minus the sense to drop bread crumbs, I simply stumble about until I see something I recognize.

Eventually, this will stop.

But until then, no, I can’t tell you where the Mediterranean Conference Room is.

So I was out on one of my Where-The-Hell-Am-I Walks this morning when I came across something that made me stop, blink, and then scurry by quickly.

There was a man sitting in an “outside” cubicle – half walls of glass, no doors – brushing his teeth at his desk.

Let’s take a moment here, shall we?, so that we can all furrow our brows together.

Just another one of the things that make you say “whaaaaaaaa?”

Like the number of times I’ve walked into offices looking for something work-related only to find its inhabitant changing his/her pants, I am boggled by the personal things we do in public spaces.

The man in the car next to you picking his nose, the woman on the phone on the bus spelling out things you just don’t want to know about her/her taste in men, the cubicle-mate who brushes her hair out and then drops the dozens of stray hairs to the floor, why do they want us to witness? Am I the only one seeing these things?

I have a theory; and if you’re not careful, I’ll tell it to you. Feeling reckless today? Here’s my theory:

People have become more accustomed to doing personal things in private spaces because they think no one is looking, because they think no one cares, because – and this one’s my favorite – “it’s a free country”.

OK. That was more than just one theory.

But back to the issue at-hand and the question on everyone’s lips: This guy brushing his teeth at his desk? Where’s he going to spit?

18 comments:

Patricia said...

While I do wonder where this guy thinks he's going to spit (maybe he swallows, aak!), it stands to reason that if you spend the majority of your waking hours at work, you may well be forced to perform some of those personal tasks there *shrugs*, and it's up to everyone else to just avert thier eyes (or ears, as the case may be). That's life in a cube farm, baby.

Patricia said...

oh yeah, remember that book series (Jane Auel) and movie "Clan of the Cave Bear" with Daryl Hannah? All the inhabitants of the cave were born with the innate knowledge that since you have to share that space it was polite to avert their eyes (and ears) so as not to invade the privacy of others while they dressed and undressed, had "relations." and intimate conversations, etc. with the rest of their clan around. It was just part of the culture.

You work in a cave. Consider yourself lucky no one is doin' the nasty. or maybe just that you haven't witnessed it yet!!

'j' said...

I loooove you blog, totally hooked to it... *mwaahh*

Pearl said...

Hi, Patricia!
Good analogy!
I still would like to see a little more decorum! :-)

Hi, J!
Glad to hear it. Don't forget to come back tomorrow! :-)

Pearl

Ann's Rants said...

I once saw a mother squeezing her teenage son's zit in the middle of an aisle in Target. I think perhaps our culture has gone a tad too informal. I think perhaps I need to work on this as well.

Pearl said...

Hi, Ann.
There is only one response to that that comes to mind: Ewwwwwww!
:-)
Pearl

June Saville said...

He'll swallow it of course Pearl.
Offices aren't what they used to be. Problem is these days people don't have the time to do their living at home - they're always at work.
June in Oz

Pearl said...

Ah, June.
That's true, isn't it?! When did that happen; and perhaps more importantly, WHY did that happen?

I'm against it.

Pearl

derfina said...

*gags*

Not The Rockefellers said...

Pearl, Don't ever use that dudes phone or keyboard. Just sayin'

Peace - Rene

Braja said...

Just...eewwwwwww :)

Adrian said...

Isn't that bizarre! I just found out that a co-worker of mine does this also. She wears snow pants in the mornings because she takes the bus and it's cold and then she changes in her cubicle. Her rationale is that it's about 6 in the morning and no one else is there, but she's only a few steps from the restroom, so why not just pop in there and not take a chance on being caught?

She also shared that her late husband was a rampant nudist and that the dog bit him somewhere that a man would never care to be bitten. Seems somewhat inappropriate considering the only time I saw him was at his funeral. I certainly won't ever forget him NOW!

Blue Blaze Irregular #1 said...

Answer to question one: Coffee Cup. I only know because I've seen it.

Couldn't agree with you more about this. It's so odd that when people get "used to" a place, they think it's theirs...with all the benefits of ownership and/or home. Including privacy. I'm sure the guy who brushes his teeth at his desk, or the woman who does a slo-mo tactile/visual combo scan for acne at her desk over a makeup mirror (seen that), or the guy who really thoroughly does a daily ear cleaning with Q-Tips daily at his desk (seen that too) pity and sometimes scorn homeless people who ad forced to use benches for beds and have to live their lives in front of others. Oh, the ironing.

Strange Pilgram said...

blah... TMI

Similar experiences this summer on the beach (I know... beach, cubicles, same diff.) watching the teenagers shape each others eyebrows. I kept getting flashbacks of monkeys at the zoo.

Pearl said...

Hi, Derfina.
I share your gag.
Sort of. :-)

Hi, Rene.
Good advice!

Hi, Braja.
I'm pretty sure I made the "ewww" face...

Hi, Blue Blazer.
It's so strange. Seems that the less we need each other to live or for companionship, the less regard we have for personal space or civility. What's it all mean?

Hi, Pilgram.
Monkeys. Hairless, chattering monkeys, poo-flinging monkeys. :-)
Hmmm. Teenagers in cages or allowed to roam free and visible from cable cars...

Hi, Adrian.
Adds a new dimension to the funeral, doesn't it?

Argentum Vulgaris said...

The post and comments made interesting reading. Am I right in assuming you are all Americans? Here in Brazil, squeezing your son's zit in the supermarket is nothing unusual, nor is unusual that if your kid needs to pee, he finds a relatively private spot and does it right there on the street; nose picking is common as well as applying make up on a bus. Brazilians are a lot less self-conscious about these things. Now, the brushing of teeth at the office desk, now that I find weird...

AV
http://netherregionoftheearthii.blogspot.com/
http://tomusarcanum.blogspot.com/

Pearl said...

Hi, Argentum.
A couple Americans, a couple Indians, a couple Australians, and an Italian. :-)
And now a Brazilian.
Pearl

Aria said...

Actually, Pearl, My theory is that we've spent so much time on our computers that we have "lost touch" with people to the point that the good common sense of what is proper and what isn't when it comes to being in public has, over the last 30 years of computerdom, dissolved. It seems to no longer exist. The cubicle dentist will spit into his trashcan with neary a thought to how completely disgusting this is--same with hairbrush woman, and nose-pick-car-man. And the cell phone people were simply never taught manners! Tarzan would have better manners than these cell-phone-psychos... Ok, I'm going to stop now, before I tell you what I really think... It's too early for my blood pressure to be that high!