Sometimes I find myself in some sort of mental time warp. I am able to quite clearly remember how I used to view things as a child and how I thought things would be when I “grew up.” Mothers and fathers seemed so wise (then they seemed like cruel dictatorial dumbasses). Any actor/actress/musical performer seemed both old and worldly yet young and hip at the same time. A “real” job was where you went every day with your briefcase to sit at your desk and close your big door.
Boy are kids dumb. Now? I’m the dictatorial dumbass parent who can solve any problem my children have (like opening the pickle jar or wiping their butt). These actresses and performers are younger than me (yet seem to have so much more command of the world, damn it). And my “real” job is in a fucking cube.
There is something dehumanizing about cubes. I can see why Scott Adams created a whole Dilbert universe out of them. I’m embarrassed that I work in a cube rather than a “real” office, yet I know I’m far from alone. If you Google “how many workers in a cube,” it seems that roughly 60% of us are stuck in this pseudo-private hell. I’m lucky, I guess, in that my cube is somewhat spacious by cube standards (I think) and the walls are 5’ high. Hence the whole “pseudo-privacy.”
It reminds me of Ayla in Clan of the Cave Bear. I used to love those books. I’m still pissed the author decimated those characters and ended the series with a catastrophic flop and thousands of pages of descriptions of old cave paintings. Yawn. In any case, the book opens with Ayla living with this different “clan” and having to learn their rules. They have no true privacy and must all pretend not to see each other. This habit is pushed to the limit when Ayla breaks a bunch of rules and gets cursed with death. They don’t actually kill her, which I guess is good if you want to keep reading (only please god stop before the last book – or maybe last 3 books). The clan simply pretends she doesn’t exist.
This is cube world. It’s a death curse. You’re in your own private/not private island. Sure, you can adjust your bra or pick your teeth but you run the risk of someone walking by at that exact moment in time and seeing/not seeing you.
It wouldn’t be so bad if we could have curtains. Then it would only be the sounds that would belie our lack of privacy (that and the really tall folks that come around who can simply peek/not peek over walls.
And the sounds. You hear things. You learn things about others you never ever wanted to learn. Who is divorced. Who has a drinking problem. Who is getting booty. Who isn’t getting booty. Who is fighting with their spouse. And in my most famous example of auditory terrorism, there was the Zombie as immortalized in a previous post as follows:
I will be damning myself in your eyes for this, but this guy has been nicknamed The Zombie as he’s more dead than alive. He may actually be a Disney animatronic gone wrong. He spends his days at work on the phone with doctors and pharmacists. All day. Every day. There are also calls to plumbers (I have no idea what he keeps putting down his sinks and commodes, but he has serious issues), roofers, landscapers, and the vet for his 2 miniature schnauzers, one of which has skin allergies and the other which needs medication due to her nervousness. You know how people have “dead pools” for celebrities soon to kick the bucket? This guy stays at #1 around here. I’d feel bad for him if only he was nice, did his job (ever), and/or didn’t make me physically ill. When he coughs, he punctuates it with a horrific gagging noise as if he’s expelling liquefied lung tissue. It’s like he has the consumption. He must be experienced to be believed. I get so ill from him that I am often unable to work. His real name is Stan. One day I got so frustrated that I changed the Dr. Seuss classic to Green Lungs and Stan. I really am not a mean person. I have just been driven stark raving mad.
The noises that man made penetrated the stoutest headphones, negating one of our most useful cube coping mechanisms.
Stan didn’t meet a good end, by the way. He had what was probably a series of strokes at work. He defecated on himself and the floor and was taken away. He never came back. It was an undignified period to his time as a cube dweller, to put it mildly. A door would have helped. It would have at least contained some of the undignified material.
And now back to work before some passerby sees/doesn’t see me.