As I’ve mentioned before, I have a day job that requires me to spend the better part of the daylight hours in a cubicle farm. In this environment I am constantly learning new and interesting things about myself, about others, and about life. And since I’m such a giver, I’d like to share these insights with all of you.
Let’s talk about Top 40 radio. One of my cube-neighbors has a small radio at her desk which is always set to the same Top 40 station, all day, every day. True to form, this station plays the most popular songs of the day/week repeatedly throughout the day. In fact, I think calling this station “Top 40″ is a bit generous because it seems more like Top 25, at best. I am considering writing down each song they play one day so I can have some hard data, but believe me when I say that last week I had heard Kelly Clarkson’s new song “Stronger” four times by the time I ate lunch. (And it wasn’t even a late lunch.)
One of the many delicate dances one must do when navigating Cubicleland is The Dance of The Social Hierarchy. Social hierarchy usually has nothing to do with job seniority and everything to do with employment seniority; i.e., how long everyone has been working at the company. I, for example, have only been there about nine months and therefore wordlessly and automatically lose any power struggle that pertains to the physical environment. This is why I can never ask her to turn her music down, change the channel, or just work in silence once in a while.
I learned my lesson about the social hierarchy early on when I opened up the blinds on the large window that my cubicle backs up to. I did this because I like little things like sunlight, and knowing what time of day it is by something other than the little clock in the corner of my computer screen. My immediate next-cube neighbor just got up, closed the blinds, and sat back down. She has been working at the company for 15 years, and that expanse of time suddenly became vivid to me as I thought about where I had been 15 years prior. (Note: I was in high school.)
Hence, I don’t say anything to the other neighbor about her radio. I don’t tell her I hate the stuff she’s listening to, and I don’t tell her that I’m pretty sure Top 40 was never meant to be listened to for several-hour blocks of time. I don’t tell her that I’ve perceived more than I’ve ever wanted to about how an infectious pop song is constructed and executed.
And that’s why I spend my time slowly going mad as I listen to the radio station slowly wrings all possible enjoyment out of these songs and their subsequent dance remixes. I used to love Adele, and in fact my first dance at my wedding two years ago was to an Adele song, but I am starting to feel that if I have to hear her mournfully howl “Someone like yoooooooooou” one more time I’m going to throw that radio out the window. Which is going to be difficult because those windows don’t open.
So does anyone else have a funny story about life in a cubicle? (And of course by “funny” I mean “we laugh or else we’d cry” brand of humor.) We could start a little support group here or something.