Response Post 2: Disenchantment, Cubed

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 11:00 pm

“People who don’t work at a 24/7 facility usual can’t get their head around how I live, but their comments, things like, ‘that sucks,’ and ‘wait, what?’ don’t bother me. I don’t like being misunderstood by the nine to fours at work, but I’ve stopped trying to explain myself. Have a nice weekend? It’s shaping up to be just as great as your Tuesday.”

– Brendan (= brilliant)

I would like to talk about something with you, undefinable internet audience, that my parents don’t particularly want to hear. But now that I know that at least Brendan will understand, I feel safe in proclaiming it not to my parents, but instead the whole world…

I don’t think I’m cut out for this cubicle business. And because cubicles are typically associated with such hours as, say, nine and five, I am gradually adopting a severe antipathy to these times that is very much related to cubicles.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not lazy (unless It’s Always Sunny in Philly is on or Liz Lemon is romancing sandwiches…Bravo on so many levels, Brendan!). I get up at 5 AM every day, though I don’t have to be at work until 9 (don’t ask me what I do with these four hours. It usually involves Hulu, Netflix, and the two previously cited television masterpieces).

I work hard at what I do. I like what I do. But before now, my jobs were very nomadic. They involved miniature road trips through Los Angeles attempting to locate obscure screening rooms. Figuring out how to get to Yonkers to spend the day talking with third graders about the Draft Riots. Talking to people. Asking them about their lives. Having a relationship with something other than a Compaq (*#@&^f!). Occasionally seeing the sky.

I don’t mind a cubicle when it is in alternating combination with trees and streets. I can handle it for four hours or so, can rally my defenses for lengthy periods and try not to let the obnoxious glare of the computer screen drill a hole through my brain. But lately, I am failing horribly. And I feel strangely guilty about it. Millions of people do it every day without complaint or concern. What’s my problem?

The first thing I ever wanted to do with my life was dig up dinosaur bones. In pre-school, I did my career day presentation on paleontology complete with a diverse collection of miniature plastic dinos and Wee Sing Dinosaurs as accompaniment. I then moved on to aspire to back-hoe-operating, a life in the theater, curating an obscure collection (e.g. ancient bottle labels), and bookstore ownership. None of which, it strikes me now, involve a cubicle.

I think the antipathy I reserve for cubicles involves my recently decided-upon aversion to squares. Please don’t read too much into this. I am talking about shapes, after all, other connotations aside. I don’t like squares because they make me think of atoms or particles of light bouncing, endlessly, off of quadrilateral walls. Which is kind of how I feel sitting in my cubicle. Like I’m about to bounce off the walls.

Squares also bring to mind interrogation and confinement. There is a reason you don’t see murderous psychopaths being interrogated in circular rooms on Law & Order. That would be much too nice. Far too pleasant. Very Buddhist. Not at all conducive to extracting admissions of homicidal tendencies. Also, have you ever seen someone held hostage in a dynamic octagonal room or spacious rotunda? I think not. I do, however, propose that instead of two-way mirrored interrogation rooms, American police departments find a nice boxy cubicle in which to conduct interrogations. I bet admission, and therefore conviction, rates would skyrocket. In fact, I would be willing to wager that it was probably a cubicle that drove said guilty party to the open arms of crime to begin with. I’ll speak for myself: the reality I see for myself when the clock above my cubicle hits 4:30 is maniacal indeed.

Who came up with the brilliant idea of squeezing people into a maze of flimsy above-ground trenches, anyway? According to Wikipedia…

Damn you, John Shiflett. I hate you. If it weren’t for your little brilliant rodent-inspired invention, I would have five times the job possibilities upon graduating than I will end up having because of my new anti-cubicle criterion.

Having worked in museums for a year and a half now, I have had (un)privileged access to numerous dioramas of varying quality and accuracy depicting lifestyles of early man, global man, Cro-Magnon, pseudo-man, et cetera. And may I point out that at no stage of hominid development did any of the hunchbacked, transformative ape-men appear in anything that remotely resembled a cubicle. Nor do traditional global peoples seem to have environments comparable to the modern cubicle. Consider Mongolian urts. Apache wickiups.Sioux tipis. Cro-Magnon dwellings (aka “caves“). Admittedly, none of these spaces included, say, company stationery. Or electric staplers. Or fluorescent lighting. Or business cards (…next to cubicles, my next least-favorite thing). But I think I could go without such modern luxuries (Where’s my sarcasm font when I need it?) for the sake of my the preservation of my sanity.

If that cave in Lascaux, France had been a cubicle, I can guarantee we would not have been left the priceless anthropological gift of Upper Paleolithic art. The most we could have hoped for would have been miraculously preserved claw-marks on the decomposing cubicle walls.

Here’s what I propose: Tipis for the workplace. Yurts. Longhouses. Round Tables. Hovercraft. Ford’s assembly lines would even be preferable (Kidding. Kind of.) Anything, really, that does not remotely resemble Shiflett’s Plague. The bonus bi-product of such a workplace design is that it would remind Corporate America of the diverse realities of the outside world, present and past. Imagine how different typing a spreadsheet would be in a traditional Mayan palapa. Not only would you be more responsible about regularly contemplating the impending apocalypse (very conducive to the counting of blessings), but you’d also require much longer bathroom breaks, as such dwellings lacked necessary facilities! It’s even organic! What a win-win.

Basic familiarity with Norman Bates used to be my litmus test for friendship. Now my litmus test for employment is lack of cubicles. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect some plush corner office. Or an office at all. Just don’t lead me to a cubicle and nod your head and point enthusiastically; I’ll have vanished before you can say “rheostat.” Give me an 8-to-4, 2-to-11 shift dressed as a hot dog holding a sandwich board any day.

Because my penchant for “tunneling” is about to transcend riding a Megabus through the Lincoln Tunnel and translate into an Alcatraz-esque escape strategy. From my cubicle.

*Image: http://www.coolscifi.com/gallery/files/1/cubicle.jpg

  1. […] It makes me sad that so few adults value the brilliance of children. And I don’t mean IQs and gifted programs. I mean kids’ abilities to recognize obvious truths and derive whimsical enjoyment from life. Kids inherently understand that just living in the world is a pretty great position to be in. There are great things about being an adult (freedom being chief amongst these), but there is no reason why we shouldn’t incorporate more childlike wonder into our adult lives, lives that often teeter perilously on the bring of blandness and disenchantment. […]

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