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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Grok Say "Type, Underlings! Type!"

Having endured a dreadful couple of days, I have decided to take the day off from writing.


Enjoy, my friends: from July of 2008, when the whites were whiter; the grass was, well, growing; and I had been, apparently, sniffing glue.

And, it appears, I had just started my love of the caveman comparisons…

Corporate America and I are like this, implying, of course, that we are tight. So tight, as a matter of fact, that I’ve fully adapted to the Cube Farm.

It was in my best interest really; and the small facial tic that I’ve developed as a result hardly bothers me at all.

Do you work in a cube? No? All the cool kids are doing it!

Working in a Cube Farm is a learning experience and, in many instances, can be used to your advantage (although you may not see this at first).

For example, there’s bodily functions. Why be confined to the wheezing, coughing, and farting of friends and family when you could also be listening to your co-workers? Delightful! Advantage? Don’t forget how well this will play into your plans to sneak in a three-day weekend by calling in Monday – after all, everyone knows that Eugene over there has been a sneezing mess all week. Perhaps you caught his cold? Wink-wink!

The half-walls and no-door aspect of the Cube Farm lends itself nicely to overhearing all kinds of conversations as well.

The woman just over your cube wall has a new boyfriend. Let’s listen in, shall we?

“John, I really can’t…. You know I sit in a cube…. Well of course I do…. You know I do… I can’t… What? Hee hee, well maybe tonight… Hee hee. No, baby, I can’t… I told you I sit in a cube… OK! Well, maybe just a little bit…” You clear your throat in a “hey! I’m over here” kind of way, but it’s too late. In hushed tones that you have to strain to hear – absolutely strain to hear! – comes the sound of your co-worker whispering sexual promises to be carried out later.

Whoo-hoo! The lunch room is going to be awkward today!

Not sure if there’s a real advantage to that one, but it adds a dimension to setting up meetings and filing that wasn’t there before. Thanks, Horny Co-Worker!

And don’t forget the Newbie, the Guy Fresh Out of College. Feign allergies to khaki if you must, but try not to sit next to this guy. This person believes that a.) college was the hardest thing he’ll ever be asked to do; b.) he’s “made it”, just by getting a job, and c.) work is just like what he’s seen on TV, i.e., that arriving at 9:00 and going for coffee at 10:00, having lunch from 11:30 to 1:00 and leaving early is not only acceptable but commonplace. This is the same kind of guy that comes in to work wearing the same thing he was wearing yesterday (and looking like he might’ve slept in his car), leaves his cell phone on “ring” all day and tosses wadded paper over the cubicle walls, just to see what happens. He’ll be arranging a Happy Hour later – right after he gets back from lunch. Don’t forget! You’re invited!

Advantage of sitting near Newbie? He’s a good reminder of why going to bed at 2:00 a.m. on a “work night” is a bad idea – and why keeping a fresh shirt and maybe a toothbrush at your desk is a good one.

The cubes make me wonder what living in a cave must’ve been like. They’re much better lit than caves, and there are flushing toilets, of course; but in some ways we’re not that far removed from those old days. Given the close quarters and the length of the work day, why, we spend more daylight hours at work than we do with our families..

Do you suppose that the cavemen and women also turned a blind eye/deaf ear - as we must, and do - to the tears, the gas, the disagreements?

I suspect they did.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I smell an open food container in the conference room, and you got to get there early if you want to beat the Shipping guys.

26 comments:

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Have you ever worked out exactly how many days out of a year we actually spend at work and how many hours out of every day at work we actually spend working? (It's an excellent use of that time between break and lunch.) It really doesn't amount to much. It just feels that way. A little preplanning and you can almost get through a week accomplishing nothing.

Simply Suthern said...

I've always thought of the cube farm as more of a prairie. When Something happens all these heads pop up and down like a bunch of prairie dogs.

Pearl said...

Delores, excellent point. Now get down to HR and tell them of your seditious ideas.
Actually, I suspect you have a good point -- but I don't think this is true of my European counterparts (I work for a global company).

Simply, Prairie-Dogging. :-) I like your style.

Will Burke said...

I hear ya on avoiding the students. In my retail job, a kid actually said "working weekends is bu****it. That's my time." Sorry that the real world is so inconvenient, buddy.

Susan in the Boonies said...

Do you do paintings on Cube Walls for the archaeologists to find? Inquiring Neanderthal minds would have wanted to know.

Pearl said...

Will, I think the look on this guy's face when the realizations start to hit will be priceless, don't you?

Susan, I think it might be time to reinstate my it's-not-graffiti-if-I-tape-it-to-the-bathroom-stall-door policy. Anonymously, of course. :-)

Joshua said...

I traded the office for a cube and more money. Still not sure if it was worth it.

As for Suthern, especially when there's free food.

Tom G. said...

I prefer to think of them as veal pens. Sure, it means we're just a fatted calf being led to the slaughter, but we're a USDA Prime fatted calf.

Pearl said...

Joshua, I've only had a door once, but it was lovely. The room itself was smaller than a lot of closets I've seen, but the ability to shut the door made it worthwhile.

Tom G., oooh. :-) Good one. And yes, if I must be a fatted calf, I might as well wear a skirt and heels...

jenny_o said...

Nice follow-up to yesterday's post!!! Love it.

Simply, now I have that picture of prairie dogs frozen in my brain. hehe

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Which is probably why when I go to Mr. D's office, most of those cubes are EMPTY! People can't wait to get the heck OUT of there!

Leenie said...

At least there are walls in a cube farm. Everybodyingoneroom really cuts into one's nose picking and odd place scratching. However, there is less paging, and emailing since paper can be tossed if folded or wadded.

Eva Gallant said...

Oh you brought back memories with this one. I worked in one of the cubes for 4 or 5 years. I was so relieved when I got my own office with a door!

Jocelyn said...

You have jetted me straight back to my post-college years when I temped all over downtown Minneapolis, spending one remarkable (for its tedium) six-week period filing paper in the records room at Pillsbury.

And while I'm *certain* your paragraph about the just-out-of-college worker doesn't apply to who I was AT ALL, I think it's a bit of brilliance. Can I share it with a couple of my fellow college teachers?

jabblog said...

I spent my working life with children - not so very different to your co-workers, by the sound of it.
Hope your next days are better, Pearl.

Douglas said...

I never once worked in a cube farm. Instead, I often shared desks (when I had one at all). You have to get past the curiosity about the sticky lumps under the desk edge and chair seat but once you do, it's fine. Bodily noises are of a symphony in these environments.

Bodacious Boomer said...

I'd never heard it called a cube farm before. I had one job where I was trapped in such misery.

One Monday morning I overheard the guy next to me telling his tale of woe from the weekend.

Apparently in a wild night of debauchery he wasn't watching where he was going with his tallywhacker and instead of inserting his tab A into her slot B he missed his intended target altogether, giving himself a penile fracture in the process.

I guess it doesn't sound funny now; but if you'd been on the other side of that cubicle wall at that very moment it was hilarious.

cogidubnus said...

There are worse things than cubes!

I once started work as a trainee underwriter for a well known UK insurance company whose premises consisted a huge open plan office with the boss and two overseers on a high platform at one end.

The boss spent his ten minute indoctrination speech telling me how good the firm was in granting a five minute tea break at 11 am, and how he'd put in nearly 40 years and was looking forward to his gold watch...and so forth...

There followed four hours of absolute silence interspersed with a few hushed telephone conversations....it was all like something out of Dickens...

I left the building at lunchtime and never went back...

hocam said...

Sounds like it could be interesting. I close a classroom door behind me and don't interact with adults all day except for 30 minutes lunch, if I'm not on yard duty. Saying that, 5 year olds are certainly not restrained in sneezing coughing and wandering out of the toilet with their trousers around their ankles. Maybe not too much different after all.

Susan Kane said...

I never had the cube experience, but I have lived vicariously today, I tell you. Bodacious Boomer: what else did you hear?!

Cathy said...

Ah the memories, there's something to be said for cube farm, but not in polite company. :)

The Elephant's Child said...

I am sorry you have had a couple of days from hell, but grateful for the bit of the past you shared with us.
Hope things in your world improve soon.

Anonymous said...

For teachers, it's a not-quite-empty box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts in the teachers' lounge that draws the jackals...Sioux

River said...

Cube Man-Cave Man...yes, I can see the similarities. I'm glad I've never worked in a cube place, I'd go bonkers in no time at all.

jenny_o said...

Ya know, this is still so funny after re-rereading, so many good lines to enjoy! (due to the time difference, your new post is not up when I get up and around, so I say this with the benefit of actually having done it many a time - it's tomorrow already, here ...) Have a good day, Pearl ...

Bodaciousboomer said...

At first glance I know a total of 1 of those songs by name. Sometimes shit like this makes me feel really old.