Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The working life: Cubiclephobia

In my first job after college, after I went through my initial training in Houston, where we worked from 8:00 - 4:30, had 13 (I think) - maybe 11 - more than anyone gets now - federal holidays, paid not one red cent for our benefits, and got a turkey at Christmas, I had my own office.

I had an office with a window and a secretary I shared with a co-worker. The secretary was not that great - it meant writing letters and presentations by hand and then having her type them, then making the edits, etc, etc. A big fat waste of time. I prefer having my own computer. I'd rather not have a secretary.

But I liked having an office.

When I was in the Peace Corps, I had an office. I shared it with my counterpart. I had to take my own toilet paper to work, but I had an office.

My next corporate job after the Peace Corps, I had an office. No window, but an office.

Then my next job - office with window. For years, until my spineless boss let another department take our office space and kick all eight of us to cubicles in a windowless converted warehouse in an area that saw frequent armed carjackings at stoplights.

Now I am employed again. And glad to have the job. Please make no mistake - I am grateful to be employed. There are many people looking. I am glad to have any job at all.


I am in a cubicle.

And I hate it.

I am in a cubicle right across from another employee. We watch each other all day. I know that she takes a break every hour at 42 minutes past the hour. She does whatever, then returns and applies hand lotion. After lunch, late afternoon, she takes off her spike heels and twirls her one bare foot while the other rests on the ground. She has a snack - usually a banana - at 3:00. She has two cups of coffee in the morning and switches to caffeine-free tea in the afternoon.

I know all this.

I don't want to know all this and even more, I do not want her to know what I do during the day, which is get my work done. I get my work done, but sometimes I check my personal email. Sometimes I want to eat a spoonful of peanut butter (from my emergency peanut butter that I keep in my bottom drawer). Sometimes I want to check my teeth for stuff that has gotten stuck there. Sometimes I want to comb my hair.

I want to do all these things without being observed.

I want an office. I want privacy. I want to be able to call my doctor without having someone hear me. I want to be able to eat without bothering anyone. I don't want to hear anyone else eat.

It's not going to happen. Where I work, you don't even get caller ID on your phone unless you're above a certain level.

I have sunk. I am a peon. A peon in a cubicle.

1 comment:

webb said...

cubes suck. no easy way to say it. they just do. and, sadly, they are definitely the way of the future.

a friend of mine works for a huge corporation where only the corporate vp's have offices and theirs are all glass. (they are on the inside, leaving the windows to the "cube farm", but they do have doors that close.)

just one more way they are turning us into robots. i feel your pain.