Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Stories Of Life In A 7X7 Box

Most people spend the majority of the time they are awake at work. They may not be alert or attentive, but that is an entirely different issue all together. This creates a kind of Brady Bunch family dynamic where everyone learns to get along and suffer or succeed as a whole (albeit without a dog named Tiger) out of the sole fact that we were all forced together by some cosmic randomness…or our HR department.

For many office workers, the center of their work world is their workspace (i.e. their cubicle). This is obviously a very depressing thought. Some people attempt to personalize their workspace with photos of their families, newspaper cutouts, cartoons, etc. I have tried bamboo sticks, pink flamingo party beads and a whole bevy of other décor ideas, but nothing has worked. One of our coworkers has been on a mission over the last several months to extend his cube’s size by moving the wall he shares with another co-worker by a fraction everyday. So far, no one has noticed.

Despite the depressing walled-in environment in which we sometimes labor, working in a semi-open space does provide opportunities to collaborate with or receive the help of our co-workers. I was reminded of this yesterday when female co-worker expressed concern over whether or not she was spelling the word ‘doable’ correctly. All she had to do was ask aloud if she was spelling it correctly. What followed was at least fifteen minutes of everyone in the office yelling how they would spell it, providing alternatives to use and the office prerequisite: making fun of her. I asserted my seniority and suggested that we use the Spanish pronunciation of doable (phonetically pronounced as due-hable), but for some reason was overwhelmingly rejected. Of course doable has become the buzzword of the week. It turns out that doable is well, a doable word for many situations. Except maybe for this one, sorry.

Listening to music at work helps one get through the day. I began a practice a few years ago of using my office PC to play my cds. That practice has caught on and it’s now impossible to walk through our office without hearing a cacophony similar to the last 45 seconds of the Beatles’ ‘A Day in the Life.’ It is not uncommon on one pass through the office to hear gospel, standards, rock n roll, country and whatever the coworker next to me is playing (I’d ask but I don’t want to embarrass anyone or give the false impression that I am interested in it). I like bringing in Louis Prima, Ray Conniff or something else unique just to annoy my office mates. I do have to be careful now since for the first time in three years I have someone in the empty cubicle to my right. She put her computer facing the same wall as mine so I really have to monitor my music’s volume level (not to mention my talking to myself…I like to speak to myself in rhymes for some reason…I guess it’s just the season).

Like most offices, we have a break room. The drawback to having one is that this is the room where everyone prepares their meals. Have you ever smelled the combination of microwaved popcorn and chicken? Let’s just say that the lunch hours bring a stifling combination of scents as 20 different people prepare 20 different meals. It’s actually a good deterrent for hunger. There is a longstanding tradition in our office of people leaving bags of candy, popcorn or chips out that they don’t finish so that all can partake. I’ve always thought it was a nice gesture. However, why is it that whenever someone finishes the bag of food, they leave that empty bag out? Is it because they don’t want to feel the guilt of having finished it? Did they somehow not realize that when they removed their handful of fatty, salty goodness that there was no more left? Did it not occur to them that their fingers didn’t touch any other morsels while their hand was in the bag? I don’t understand it. Besides, I hate being teased and nothing is worse than walking into the break room for a glass of water and getting your hopes up when you see an unexpected bag of chips there for the taking, only to have your joy shattered by an empty bag! Folks in our office like doing the same thing with the last cup of coffee. I guess no one feels guilty thinking they have left a few drops for someone else. Ahh, the complexities of the human mind.

These are just some of the things experienced in our office on any given day. In rereading this, it almost sounds fun. I must have left something out. Oh yeah, I did. I forgot to mention the work. I think I turned to blogging as a vent or outlet in order to cope with working in a box all day. I just hope I can keep blogging because I think I’m going blind from staring at everyone’s beige cubicle walls and matching file cabinets. It doesn’t help that the guy across from me wore a shirt today that matched his office…


James Burnett said...

Unfortunately, my cube is about 20 feet from the break room. The smell of all the different foods really is a deadly combination. Smells like a locker room.

Odat said...

Ah the memory of cubicles....I kinda miss them....NOT!
Our office has banned people from heating fish in our microwave. I have no idea whether this violates anyone's rights or not...lol.
I love the part about the guy wearing the shirt matching his cube...you're too funny....

ShadowFalcon said...

hold on you get 7x7? That so not fair. my walls were taken away, my desk is only 3.5 feet long. I'm practically sitting in my neighbours lap.

- doable is now being used as an actual word? oh dear...

captain corky said...

What about the bathroom? Do all of you share just one?

When I show up to work on Sunday night the break room smells like someone died in it because it never gets cleaned on the weekends.

Lee said...

Cubies remind me of honeycomb, or zoos, or anthills...why do we do it to ourselves?

mist1 said...

You just gave me an idea. I am almost the same color as my desk and credenza. I think I'll start working in the nude. Like camouflage.

Michael C said...

James: Believe it or not, I thought it was only something that happens in our office. Maybe it's time for a law?

Odat: Let's just say the color isn't flattering as a cabinet, wall or shirt!

Shadow: There's a neighbor or two who could sit in my lap...it might make work more enjoyable ;-)

Seriously, I hear doable used a lot!

Captain Corky: The restrooms are shared with our clients and the smells on Monday are why I try to not order and then eat the super nachos on Friday. I throw the container in my trash can and then my cube smells like it's been fumigated.

Lee: It think it's more what upper management does to us than what we do to ourselves ;-)

Mist1: I'm sure those you work with or around you would enjoy the new camo very much. I would try that but our multi-color carpet of purple, dark blue, black, etc. would only match me if I sustained major bodily injuries in a car accident.

James Burnett said...

Mist1 if you do decide to do away with clothing at work, you're welcome to test that practice out at my office.

Natalie said...

The best thing about having an office to myself is that I can eat in here and don't have to worry about anyone not liking how my food smells and I can avoid the hell that is the breakroom. What a beautiful thing.

thepinkangel said...

luckily I'm now out of a cubicle and have moved up to an office shared with two other people. I will say its nice to ask a question out loud and receive an answer, but recently my coworkers haven't been answering. Maybe they are tired of hearing me ask "Do you know what irritates me the most?"

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