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Askew Review 15

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Work Cube

John Turco

    What a pitiful existence
    7 ˝ feet by 8 feet. That’s my world for 8 hours a day. My cubicle. My home away from home. Yes, I spend 8 hours per day huddled inside a cube, staring at a computer and I know most of you do as well. In fact, some of you are probably either in your cubes, or on the way to your cubes as you read this. Sad isn’t it? Although, lately I have been feeling pretty good about myself. 7 ˝ X 8 is actually quite large by today’s standards. I’m doing quite well. In fact, this spring, I’m thinking of adding one or two extra file drawers to my empire. I’m quite excited about that. But anyway, back to my wallowing. So I wallow away for 8 hours a day in a cubicle owned by my company of employment. I will not name the company for two reasons. First and foremost, I’d be immediately fired. Then I’d be forced to pack up my shoebox full of personal effects and find another job at some other company in some other cube. And if I had trouble finding that “dream” job, I’d have to go to a job placement agency, where I’d sit in someone else’s cube and tell them all the neat things about me and why they should find a cube out there somewhere for me. The second reason I’m not naming the company is just because I really don’t think it matters. Because aside from the very name, you wouldn’t know the difference from one company to the next. Sure, outside the building, there may be a fabulous sign exclaiming the name of the thriving company, which operates within. But take a walk inside and you’ll find the building and the company is just like all the rest – filled with hundreds of cubicles, which are occupied by hundreds of miserable people, starring at their screen savers, wondering how the hell they got there. Most buildings you can’t even open a damn window! That’s probably because they know some would jump, if given the chance.
    I should count my blessings though. At least I have my own cube. I had to share a 7’ X 3’ cube with a co-worker at my last job. You do the math – that’s close! Aside from sharing a womb, that’s as close as it gets.
    We’re all worker bees. Ever look at a bee hive up close? Not that I recommend it, but if you have, you probably wondered how all those little bees fit into all those little honeycombs. “Gee, how can they do that?” Well take a look at all of the little people who fit into all the little cubicles. It’s the same thing. We sit in our cubes, working the day away. And it doesn’t end there either. Within our cubicles we have even smaller cubicles. We have “In-Boxes” and “Out-Boxes”, stackable shelves and divider trays. We have pencil holders and drawer organizers. We even have paperclip organizers! What the hell is that? Have we gone mad? Is it really that important to separate the little paperclips from the big paperclips? God forbid they end up together! That may require some sort of thought process in the future to pull out the correct size paperclip for the task at hand! No wonder we have race problems in this country. It all starts with the damn paperclips! Baby steps. How can blacks live with whites if we can’t handle the mixing of the paper clips?
    I’d say the stackable shelves have to be my favorite office item though. They provide a great way to get rid of work, without actually doing any. For instance, if the boss drops a report on my desk for perusal, I don’t actually read it. I just add another shelf and throw it in there. Then, three months later, when I can’t remember why or when I was given the report, I simply throw it away. There, all done. I’ve just wiped my hands of it. Believe me when I say, my cubicle looks like a bustling metropolis, with skyscrapers made of plastic stackable shelves everywhere. But there is not one stray report, piece of paper or even a stray paperclip to be found on my desk. I don’t get a thing done, but I look damn organized while doing it.
    Some people are quite ridiculous when it comes to the “In-Box”. You know these people. You can’t actually hand them anything. “Put it in my In-Box.”, they say proudly, because they are so proud to have an “In-Box”. But where does it go from there? Well it travels through a very complex sequence of boxes. From the “In-Box”, it goes to the “New Projects-Box”. From there it goes to the “To Do-Box”. From there it goes to the “Overdue-Box”. From there it goes to the ever popular “Urgent-Box”, which is usually red. The next and final step is to the blue Recycle Box. Nothing ever actually makes it to the “Out-Box”.
    But the anomaly of the cube perplexes even the strongest scientific mind. For, as miserable as we seem, we have some strange attachment to our little cubes. Our cubes, whether we like it or not, have become part of us. We actually like the confines of honeycomb within the hive. We’ll do anything to stay close, even in the face of danger. We may be driven out of the hive, but we won’t stray far. After all, our cubicles are in there. We spend more time caring for our cubicle than we do our spouses or significant other. Here’s a sad but true example. One time, while I was in my cubicle, so diligently stacking plastic shelves, we were told there was a bomb in the building and we would have to evacuate. But once we got outside, we all just stood on the side walk, three feet from the building, wandering close like maggots on an old piece of meat. What idiots! We couldn’t leave. There was a bomb in the building and we were standing right next to it. How bright is that? Even with death immanent, we refused to leave our hive behind. Perhaps we didn’t care if we died in a fiery blaze. We were the captains of our cubes and we’d go down with them if we had to. What a bunch of losers.
    I think we may need some sort of cube therapy or perhaps a cubicle support group. I can just see it now. The group would start therapy in individual cubes and slowly work it’s way toward an actual room.
    All I know, is when I die, I want my ashes sprinkled in my cubicle. Right in the “Out-Box”.




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