Thursday, May 10, 2007

Who The Heck Invented The Cubicle?

It's a repost today, but at least it's better than nothing at all, right?

How many of you out there in Blogville work in a cubicle? I’m guessing a great many of you. How many of you work in a cubicle with no windows? Probably most of you since cubicles are very, very good at blocking natural light!

I work in a cubicle and it is the daily deep depression I experience from being enclosed on 3 ¾ sides that has driven me to write this. I would really like to meet the inventor of the cubicle as I have a few guesses about what he or she used to do prior to creating the portable walls that close us off from the world but actually provide no privacy. My first assumption is that the inventor was incarcerated or was very familiar with prison. Maybe that is why he or she assumed we could be comfortable at least 8 hours a day working in a grey or earth-toned square. The other guess is that they liked to play in cardboard boxes as a kid. It explains perfectly why they created an affordable box that we have to work in each day.

Now to some, like office management (who get real doors and windows) and Les Nessman from WKRP in Cincinnati (who taped off lines on the floor representing where his walls should be), cubicles are the office dividers of the gods. However, there are a lot more of us that see them as a form of solitary confinement. It’s weird though because while you can’t see anything when working in the cubicle (unless you’re unfortunate enough like me to only be able to see your co-worker sticking his car key in his ear or picking his nose when you look out of your only opening), but you sure can hear everything.

Nothing you say in your cubicle is secret. It can be heard by even the hardest of hearing. It’s almost like they goofed and installed sound projection equipment instead of sound dampening material when constructing the cubicles. If your co-workers realized all of the lies you have overheard them tell, you could probably get them to buy you a car. You know their medical history, their dating plans and the vacation they booked while on company time. Not to mention how they feel about you and the rest of their co-workers.

It’s not as amusing anymore, but I begin each day by reciting some of country crooner Faron Young’s classic “Hello Walls.” I have found that no matter what you do to enhance your workspace, it’s a futile effort. I have put up bamboo canes, flamingo party beads, a coffeehouse clock, my Charlie Brown figurine, loaded PEZ dispensers, photos, a sorry little plant and even the office cubicle prerequisite, Far Side cartoons. Nothing has worked to change the mood. I then tried a lava lamp only to be told it was a fire hazard. Even the stock painting behind my desk is depressing. It might as well be a historical black and white photograph of casualties on a Civil War battlefield. Seriously, this cubicle thing is that depressing. My blog pal
Odat over at Odat’s Mumblings mentioned that there is a lamp that can simulate natural light, so maybe that will “brighten” things up a bit.

Supposedly it is a beautiful and sunny day outside. I’ll just take the radio DJ’s word for it. The only thing that one can look forward to in cubicle land is lunchtime. Not because it’s time to go eat though. Lunchtime is when you get to see the faces of everyone else you work with. More importantly, it’s also the time when you can derive great pleasure from seeing everyone’s reaction to stepping out into bright natural light. I think we should take deep inspiration from the East Germans and (to quote Ronald Reagan) tear…down…these…walls!





WKRP's Les Nessman would gladly take cubicle walls over his imaginary tape outlines representing where walls should be...

11 comments:

Tammie Jean said...

Oh, you have just perfectly described where I am sitting right now... gray walls, no natural light, every word uttered by everyone around me crystal clear. Maybe I should get some bamboo and flamingo party beads... :)

Michael C said...

Tammie: I feel your pain...I wrote that post after working by myself on a Sunday in my drab cube! I'd send you my bamboo or party beads, but some took them!!! Hang in there.

Odat said...

Ha...I remember this one....and I'm not going to rub it in that I now have a window in my office ok?
I had a meeting at my old office today (cubicle land), and commented to all who asked me if I missed it there..hmmmm...NOOOOOOO!
Peace

Patti said...

I'm hope amidst my own personal clutter, with windows and a skylight. Guess I should count my blessings...

Patti said...

*that should read home, not hope...

Ralph said...

I like the story arc in Dilbert where he was given a bunch of useless binders and he used these to add an illegal addition to his cubicle...

Michael C said...

Odat: You are one of the lucky ones

Patti: To me, I'm working with the hope that I can work from home ;-)

Ralph: I never saw that but it sounds like I would definitely enjoy it. We have a lot of useless binders at work...hmmmmmm

Anonymous said...

I think I would have a nervous breakdown if I had to work in a cubical... I'm sorry to all of you. Have you ever seen JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO? It is VERY weird, but you should at least watch the beginning, for REAL depressing work area.

C said...

It's interesting to note, my asperger son prefers a cubicle desk at school. Maybe the inventor suffered from an undiagnosed case of Asperger syndrome.

kat said...

Why don't you remove a wall a la Office Space and see what happens!!!

My Reflecting Pool said...

I wonder if Les' tape outlines sparked the imagination of someone to create those walls?