Guess what? I’m sharing a sneak peek at one of the chapters in my upcoming book, Confessions of a Random Chick: Woman. Wife. Mother. Member of an Insane Society. The book will be available in Summer 2013. That’s only FIVE months away. Zoinks!
Those of you who know me and have been hanging around for a while know this book is a compilation of humorous essays based on my old blog identiy: Random Chick. Well, this book is a compilation of my blog posts, brain dumps, blatherings, inspirations, and stuff that just might make you pee your pants. They say if you do Kegels that problem gets better but I can never remember to do them.
Without further ado, here is Chapter 2 from the book. You can also check out Sneak Peek #1 here.
Every Monday for nearly 20 years I joined the ranks of hundreds of thousands of people who would flop out of bed, zone out in traffic, and even brave the perils of public transportation to sit in a cubicle all day. Granted, I was paid to sit in a 10 x10 beige cube staring at my computer, answering incessant phone calls, attending mind-numbing meetings, eating leftover birthday cake, giving up all privacy, and basking in fluorescent lighting. Most of my paycheck went toward heath insurance that might or might not have covered a life-threatening illness, if I ever got one. The remaining bulk of my earnings were taken out for taxes, which left me with just enough to pay for my measly dwelling that I used to believe I owned.
Cubicle Land is where I spent the majority of my career. So like other cube-keteers, I decided to spruce my little piece of beige corporate life up a bit. I put photos of my family all over the place so I wouldn’t forget what they looked like, and I posted motivational quotes so I could pretend to be a key contributor. Sometimes I’d pin up photos of gorgeous tropical locations, like Tahiti or Bali, because I knew on my salary I’d never make it there. Sure, I’d receive two weeks out of the year I could use for a paid vacation, but the closest I ever got to an exotic vacation was an over-priced drink with an umbrella at happy hour.
Personal calls were always a no-no in Cubical Land. Mainly because I didn’t want my co-workers knowing about my pap-smear appointments. This no-personal-phone-call-zone was a real problem one time during a family emergency. My mother, who lives in Southern California, called me at work. She told me that my grandmother had died from a heart attack. My grandmother had been living by herself nearly 500 miles away from my mother and 600 miles away from me. My mother was so distraught about the news that she had just received from the ER, that she asked me to call the county coroner to arrange for the body to be transferred from the hospital. I cared about and loved my grandmother, so of course, I was upset, too.
I frantically ran through the building trying to find an empty conference room, but since open conference rooms in Cubicle Land are about as rare as a tap-dancing unicorn, I found none. I couldn’t just step outside to call because my cell phone battery was dead and, of course, I had left my charger at home. Desperate, I slunk back to my cubicle and attempted to whisper my request to the coroner’s office. It might have worked, too, if the coroner hadn’t said they lost my grandmother’s body. “You lost her body!” I shouted into the receiver. Suddenly, my co-workers heads popped up over their cubicle walls like prairie dogs—searching for the source of this unexpected outburst. Prairie dogging is a common side effect of being in a cubicle eight or more hours a day. The coroner eventually found my grandmother’s body. A fact that I never shared with the prairie dogs.
The other side of the privacy coin is that I’ve learned way more about my fellow cube-keteers than I ever wanted to know. Once I shared a wall with a woman who loved troll dolls. She must have adorned her cubicle with every single troll that was ever created, including one that looked like Elvis—complete with perfectly coiffed green hair who stared at me with his beady orange eyes for ten hours a day. Then there was the IT guy in the cubicle across from mine who constantly stuffed Twinkies into his mouth while he worked. Most of the time he’d bounce off the walls of his cubicle tapping his fingers, playing drums with his pen, or kicking his chair. Sometimes I’d luck out and get a sanity break because he would literally pass out from a sugar overdose around three o’clock in the afternoon. That is, until he started to snore.
The days were long and the meetings longer. Occasionally relief from the doldrums would come when we had meetings in a conference room with leftover continental breakfast muffins or a lunch buffet pasta salad. I didn’t really care that other people had already picked through this culinary wasteland before I got there. All I wanted was something—anything—that would take my mind off the 5,294 emails eagerly awaiting my reply when I got back to my desk. No one else seemed to be bothered by it either as they would also grab the remnants like a pack of ravenous wild dogs. Crusty blueberry muffin in hand, I’d sit and watch hours of PowerPoint presentations that read like a software manual. Of course the presenter would read every single word on each boring slide. It wasn’t as if anyone in Cubicle Land knew how to speak publicly without reading what’s on the slides or anything. Secretly, I’d wish that the person who called the meeting would send me the entire presentation so I could read it to myself before I went to bed. I thought it would be a sure-fire cure for my insomnia.
Besides scavenged conference room meals, the other reprieve we’d always pray for in Cubicle Land was for someone to have a birthday or to leave the company so we could flee the land of never-ending sadness, if only for a two-hour lunch. Typical daily lunches in Cubicle Land usually included a pile of something-or-other that had been heated up in the microwave and would leave a musky, sour odor in the break room and surrounding cubicles. Birthdays, etc. not only upped the quality of food, they provided a much needed shore-leave for the cube-keteers. The best of these types of lunches was when one of the directors would leave the company, because lunch was free. Well, free if you don’t consider the cost of the soul-leaching when we’d tell the exiting director things like, “No one will be able to do your job after you leave.” We didn’t really care that he or she was leaving. We actually meant that no one would ever want to do the job.
When the blueberry muffin, pasta primavera, or outside-world lunch I’d eaten wore off, I’d hit the afternoon wall—that time when I lost my steam between lunch and release from Cubicle Land for the day. I’d attempt to revive myself by consuming massive amounts of bad coffee from the break room. It would help for a while, but sometimes I’d find myself sitting back down to work only to find that I was in someone else’s cubicle. Little “rah-rah” notes posted all over the beige walls about reaching company goals was usually my first clue.
I repeated this torture day after day for 10 hours a day, five days a week, four weeks a month, 12 months a year for almost 20 years. There were those two weeks a year of paid vacation so all in all it wasn’t that bad…until I got laid off. No one told me that I had to take those two weeks before they let me go or I’d lose them. At least I got to keep the pictures of Tahiti and Bali. That’s something.
“Cubicle Land—where nightmares really do come true!”
[Image courtesy of office-designs.net]
Copyright (c) 2013 Dana Leipold