This is a post from the deep, dark past of my old blog. Even though I am now free range and no longer work in cube farm hell, I still enjoy this little ramble. It’s kinda like looking at an old picture of yourself with hair teased to within an inch of being a ceiling fan hazard wearing an acrylic rainbow sweater and blue eye shadow. Sometimes it’s good to look back and see how far you’ve come.
The fluorescents are too bright. I feel washed-out.
Cave crickets are translucent due to the perpetual darkness. I am colorless from too much unnatural light.
Even the furniture is painted and upholstered in shades of non-colors: beige, taupe, gray. All outlined in stark black like an illustration of something that should be real.
Is this life or the manual?
(See Fig. 1 – Female Employee slumped over cubicle desk.)
The coffee is flavorless and the creamer is synthetic. The sugar looks too white to be trusted. Much like the management.
The steady rhythm of telephones and the copy machine is like distant drums. When they stop, the silence is unnerving.
Surrounding me are inanimate objects that demand my attention: blinking monitors, email notifications, stacks of folders and papers. Yet the living avoid contact and look down when passing in the halls.
The only conversation I’ve had today was with my printer, coaxing it to give up a piece of jammed paper.
Here, all my natural instincts are considered signs of aggression. I have to remember to speak softly and not show too many teeth. Sudden movements and off-hand references from obscure movies cause confusion and fear.
(See Fig. 2 – Female Employee fashioning primitive weaponry from rubberbands, paperclips and hi-liter ink.)
It is safer to not draw too much attention so I keep my head down. Documents are strewn across my desk, multiple windows opened on my monitors. Looking busy is my camouflage.
I pretend that I am biding my time, waiting for just the right moment to attack and unleash my fury. It’s a hard ruse to maintain. For now it is only about survival. Towing the line while trying not to hang myself with it.
There is hope, though. I am preparing a signal fire. Every day I gather a little more fuel, building it bigger and higher. When conditions are finally right, I’ll set it ablaze and the smoke will rise above the canopy and my rescue will come.
(See Fig. 3 – Female Employee dousing cubicle in kerosene exactly three seconds before she realizes that the whole signal fire thing was supposed to be a metaphor.)
I’m so glad you got the hell out of there. Please tell me you “accidentally” set that fire. This was all artsy and poetic, like if Walt Whitman had wrote Joe Versus the Volcano.
“if Walt Whitman had wrote Joe Versus the Volcano.” That. Is. Brilliant. Thank you!
I almost forgot… I’m also going to need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too. We, uhhh, lost some people this week and we sorta need to play catch-up.
And I said, I don’t care if they lay me off either, because I told, I told Bill that if they move my desk one more time, then, then I’m, I’m quitting, I’m going to quit. And, and I told Don too, because they’ve moved my desk four times already this year, and I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels, and they were merry, but then, they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn’t bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it’s not okay because if they take my stapler then I’ll set the building on fire…
You’re my favorite.
Ah, yes. Cubicle culture.
A heady blend of bland and banal.
I remember it well.
Never forget. And never again.