Everywhere I’ve worked they have a group of cubes that are all built the same way and then there are one or two odd ones. Maybe they are galley style which are nice because nobody can sneak up on you, but every time you get up your chair hits the file folders sitting on the floor behind you. Nothing makes you feel more like part of the team than to be squeezed into an area initially reserved for file cabinets. Now that we’re paperless we’re building cubes like we own Mediterranean and Baltic Avenue. Squeeze ’em in there! Maybe you have a special cube with a sliding door for privacy. Or one that has a peek-a-boo window at the top – your nose picking days are over, but that leaves room for a new OCD hobby!
When you’re 23 the cubicle is a fantastic place. You explain to your unemployed fellow grads, if we had cubicles in our dorm rooms I could have spent hours making out with my girlfriend while my dorky roommate was doing whatever creepy thing he was doing and I wouldn’t have to know he was watching me. When you’re 33 the cube is, at best, a claustrophobic vacation from being maligned by your boss or a place to toss your stuff between meetings when you have to pee. When you’re 43 you’ve hopefully given up hope of moving beyond the cube and it’s your 401K emergency center. It’s got a phone and an internet connection to help make hasty stock market decisions and you’ve given up caring who sees you do it.
You know how they talk about a ‘window of opportunity’? Well, at age 33, mine was kind of grimy and stuck, much like my actual windows at home. After years in corporate America I finally pried the damn thing open and fell out. I’m writing a novel tentatively called Cubicle Envy and once I serve my community service for blasphemy against life in a square box somebody might actually give me a job again.
Did you know the cubicle was actually invented by Henry Ford? Yeah, it was for his grandkids. They’d drive their little mini cars to the side of their mini office, make calls on their mini phones, dig around in their mini file cabinets. Edsel would call Henry and he’d be like “have you seen the kids?” and Henry would say “The cube is four feet high and the kids are only three – they can’t see me, ha ha!” So, I guess the only difference between us and Henry Ford’s grandkids is that once they outgrow the cubicle they get a billion dollar trust fund. Hey, when you grow tall enough to see over your cube you get a clear view of your neighbor’s shoulder acne – that’s pretty good, right?
The cubicle was not invented by Henry Ford lest you think I have a degree in history. I’m sure you’ve got a guy (it’s always a guy), we’ll call him Andy Internet who has three internet windows open at all times. One, of course, is ESPN to track his fantasy college football, one is a music sharing site where he’s probably downloading Rush. Does it even matter which Rush songs? No, it doesn’t. The other window is probably left on the search he did 20 minutes ago to find out where Chuck Norris was actually born. Even though he has headphones on Andy’s bat ears hear every query ever. He’s also got download workarounds so when your company blocks certain sites he’s got the Contra code taking you to the next level. Doris likes him because he helps her unjam the copier and he never says “Doris, your God-damned colored paperclips stuck in the feeder are keeping me from downloading more Tom Waits songs”. Anyway, Andy would know who invented the cubicle and he’ll be in the office until like 7:00 trying to actually get his assignments done.
You’re saying, ‘Geoff, what are your qualifications for talking about cubicles and corporate life’. Let’s just say I’m starting to get some gray in my beard. Not enough to actually blend in to the static shade of gray fabric that lines the cubicle walls, but I’m getting there. Years of accounting will do that to you. The bright side is I don’t have asbestos poisoning! Now that I’m writing, though, I can take a break and scout out class action lawsuits to jump on by watching the lawyer commercials that play during the Judge Ray Parker show. Have you been forced to work in an inadequate workspace? Do they make you eat lunch at your desk? Have you ever questioned whether the printers at your workplace have actually been programmed to hate you? Don’t fix it yourself. Call the law offices of Shady Lowlifeski. Of course, just as I start dialing another commercial comes on: Do you feel like your internet searching skills are giving you a competitive advantage? Is your name Andy Internet? Come to A.S.S. Tech and let us show you how to take those skills and make you a workforce powerhouse for a real company (not a minimum wage consulting job like most of our graduates go to).
Remember before they started giving kids drugs and they’d just plop them in front of Mr. Rogers’ Neighboorhood and old Fred Rogers would dope the kids down with his goofy smile and slow talk? Well, think of this as Mr. Jarok’s Cubiclehood here to calm you down until your loud cousins show up with candy and punch you in the head waiting for you fight back (whatever the office equivalent of that is).