Thursday, March 08, 2007


I hate my desk.

Er… sorry, the desk is fine. It’s functional, and it works, but I hate my cube. It sucks, which is a shame because when I first started this job I was so looking forward to making its acquaintance and maybe becoming friends. I was prepared to embark on a slow, steady period of learning, discovery and growth with it – together, as comrades-in-arms.

Not anymore. Not with this hell spawn of a cube. It has betrayed me, utterly and completely, every single day.

Prior to taking my current job, I’d worked in environments where cubes were discouraged. “They’re isolating” the decision makers said. “They decrease productivity by cutting you off from your co-workers. They extinguish the free exchange of ideas!” True enough, but their lack, while perhaps making for a more efficient workplace, also makes for a more resentful one. I can exchange ideas with my co-workers in normal conversational manner, but I can also get hit by their sneezes, hear their intimate phone conversations, and smell their farts. My co-workers are also more apt to open up about things like “how Edgar and I shopped for Rolex’s this weekend,” and “oh, did you SEE what he was wearing?” And, the reverse is true too. You think my co-workers want to feel closer to me as I’m blowing my nose into a snot rag for the umpteenth time? Of course not. That’s repugnant. So why expose people to all that? Isolation – that’s the way to go!

You can, therefore, imagine my delight while being given the initial tour of my new workplace and seeing cubicles, cubicles everywhere. “We treat our cubicles with the respect and dignity they deserve”, said the anonymous HR person showing me around. “Love yours as you would one of your own offspring.” I told her I didn’t have any. She frowned, then shrugged, then faded slowly into the mist to await the next new hire in hopes of providing needed guidance. Indeed, the oracle had spoken – but not before bringing me to my own cubicle and telling me to get settled.

My initial excitement quickly turned to shock, and then dismay. Surely there must be some mistake. The cube - MY cube, was, and is, in the middle of an open area, snuggled nicely at the intersection of two hallways – the cubes entrance at their vertex. How could they have placed a cubicle here? Moreover, how could they have given it to me? ME, who had been waiting all my adult working life for this moment! This wasn’t privacy. This was exhibitionism! People walking up the hallway from twenty feet away can see inside! They can read my email! They can see what I’m surfing! THEY KNOW WHEN I’M WASTING TIME!!!

“Settle down” said the anonymous HR rep while reappearing out of the mist, “it’s only temporary. The area where you would normally be sitting is under renovation so we’ve had to place you here for now.”

That was four months ago. Nothing has changed. I’m still in this godforsaken dog box of a cube and, true to form, it broadcasts everything I do to the people passing by outside. Check my personal email? They know. They can read it, in fact. Surf on over to They tut-tut in derision, while studying Manny Ramirez’s OPS. How do I know they’re there? I can hear them as they walk up the hallway (in fact, I’ve learned to identify individuals by the sound they make when they walk. A person’s weight, gait, and shoe clunk can give their identity away – no joke), and I can see them looking in as I turn around to give them an icy glare. Oh, they’re there alright, and they’re paying attention. Even the quickest of alt-tabs into Excel or PowerPoint can’t escape their prying eyes. Hell, two days ago, the participants in the company sponsored Weight Watchers program had their weigh-in ten feet away. What do you think they did while waiting in line? One of them went so far as to comment on the incoming cold front after I checked the weather on All this, thanks to my cube who says nicely to passerby, “Come! Look what my occupant is doing! Come see how he wastes away the day!”

My cube’s just as evil twin brother lives on the other side of the hall. Its occupant has resided there for far longer than I’ve been in mine, and she’s subject to the same absurd lack of privacy. Lately, I’ve been paying close attention to her to see if I might learn some techniques to counteract the brazen trickery of my own cube. No luck. The rest of the company is destined to know what we’re up to. Lately, she’s taken to removing her laptop from the docking station and using it directly, in the hopes that its monitor is small enough and that her body would act as a shield big enough to prohibit passersby from seeing its display. I planted myself several feet away from her cube’s entrance and, much to her surprise, told her that her efforts were in vain; that she wasn’t fooling anyone and that I could still read her Yahoo mail, and that if anything she looked guiltier than before. I then wished her luck in clearing up her bad credit.

And so, for the moment, I’m reduced to a boring life of actually doing work, toeing the company line, and being an efficient little worker bee. I long for the day, though, when this cubicle that I’m in will be torn asunder, and cast to the four winds; when I can surf the Internet without fear of being caught or having my work ethic called into question; when my personal email is MY business and no one else’s. Then, my friends, will be a day to rejoice. Until then, I wait in joyful hope for the coming of my savior, New Cube That’s Out Of The Way… and I weigh in at 150 pounds.


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Blogger Jesse Anna Bornemann said...

At 150 pounds, you could ship yourself to New Orleans.

12:33 PM  

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