An ode to my cubicle…

A few days ago, for a while, I thought life could not have been more miserable…. I counted myself among the most unfortunate souls in the world who were so confined by their constraints that they were being cheated out of the eventual greatness they were meant to achieve. I mean come on.. remember what they sang 25 years ago? No ? Well … We were the world! We were the children, and together, We were supposed to make the world a brighter place…. And just see what we ended up with.

But well, that was a few days ago, and now its today. And I am back to being the normal cheerful beacon of optimism to all those around me. So I pretty much smile away the rueful stares in the morning from my wife when I get out of bed at 8 in the morning and ask for tea which she might as well have kept ready since she is usually up bright and early at 6 AM. And I graciously chat away with dad even when he does not respond since he is sulking from an argument we had last evening. And I even politely thank my maid when she serves me tea (which my wife refused to do) with a scowl since she knows we are looking around for another maid.
So all in all, a perfect start to a glorious day. The sun shines right up there with sincerity reminiscent of a new management trainee in an organization… over enthusiastic, totally correct and completely unnecessary.
The traffic on the road seems like family… vast, somewhat stifling, and no one really wants to be a part of it but hardly has any choice in the matter. Which brings me to the one thing that has consistently been the same for me all these years. It does not matter which country I am in or which organization I work for, I pretty much end up spending at least 8 hours in a fabric covered cubicle.

It feels more like home than home itself. There is something about panels covered in beige covered cloth that spell comfort and ennui. And just like a car is supposed to indicate your status in life ( please don’t ask me what I drive).. a cubicle pretty much nails it where you stand in the organization.

If you are the one that has the shaded cube in the corner that is cleaned by the janitor once a quarter, you are probably a guy who lives life on his or her own terms…. Simply because no one else is really bothered with what you with your effing life!You are probably the one who has a calendar of 2007 displayed importantly on your cubicle wall and last week’s paper-cups of coffee still piled up in your trash can… ( I kind of identify with you if you know what I mean). In the words of someone else, even though you are a file pusher for anyone who cares to notice, in your own mind you really are an adventurer sailing the high seas…

However, if you are the one who sits in a cube in the center of the hall surrounded by a sea of other cubicles… you are the one who is still figuring out where you stand in the world. You are not far enough in the corner to merit the tag of a rebel, nor are you close enough to the boss’s cabin to be really considered a shining star in the company. You are pretty much the guy who brings packed lunches, has pictures of his son on the cubicle walls, smiles at everyone and goes home at six each day. You are also the guy who probably gets most of the work done out there…

And… if you are the guy who sits in the cube facing the boss’s cabin, you are probably the one hated by everyone else. In all probability, you are one of those oily brown noses we all love to detest. You probably work the longest hours and seldom get anything done. You ensure that you never leave before the big boss has switched off lights in his cabin. You have your certifications, and degrees framed and prominently displayed. You are also the one who probably organizes office parties with silly party games to up the team morale and laughs the loudest at jokes cracked by anyone senior than you. You will probably end up managing the other cubicle dwellers sooner than we all know…. And would be rewarded with a glass walled cabin so that you can safely monitor the going ons in your office without being contaminated yourself or infecting others with whatever you may be carrying….

And well if you are the one who sits in that glass walled cabin, you are at the top of the food chain obviously. You are the one with a list of graphs on your cabin walls and a series of activities on a white board at least half of which have been importantly crossed out.

I love my cube… with its drawers empty with arrogant disdain and my water bottle sitting in solitary splendor on an artificial veneer surface.

And with the cubicles come neighbors… at my first job, I made friends with a Telugu girl who was a whiz at programming and knew the scores for all cricket matches over the last decade or so. Then there was the Bengali chap who is now expanding his brood somewhere in small town America… we used to crib about our boss together you see. And then there was the beautiful African-American lady in the mid-west, who said that ‘The best thing about coming to work is that you get to dress up in the morning’ …. or the guy and the girl who were secretly pursuing a love affair over cafeteria lunches…I think they became parents last year….after getting married of course.

So here it is… a toast to my own personal fabric covered space in the world…I have grieved here and celebrated victories… listened to my favorite music and eaten pizza…. said goodbyes to friends and welcomed new ones.

There are very few places in the world that carry my name on them. That proclaim to all and sundry that this portion of this wonderful universe is dedicated to the celebration of the cerebral output of this magnificent genius mind.… and if a beige colored cubicle has to be one of them, then so be it…

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PS: Adding a song from ages ago. A fantastic parody of You’re Beautiful. Its called the ‘Cubicle Song’ !’

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