It’s been twelve years since I’ve worked in a cubicle, and I’m having a terrible time readjusting. Back in college, I worked for General Motors Acceptance Corporation (otherwise known as The Devil) where I’ve never been so micromanaged in my entire life. Every minute of the day was catalogued by buttons on our phone. Spent a little too much time in the bathroom? You’d get a note about it. Too many personal items in your cubicle? You’d get a note about it. Some sad little person actually went around counting those on a periodic basis.
Now that I’m back and #allaboutthatcubiclelife, those GMAC memories are resurfacing. Like the guy next to me who took down a family-sized bag of Lay’s potato chips and a Big Gulp every Saturday afternoon; the lady who loved Barry Manilow so much that she erected a Manilow shrine (hence the personal items rule); that time that my friend and I were asked to clean the breakroom fridge and we shared an entire box of someone else’s Whitman Sampler. Good times.
Of course now, most of my job is actually spent out in schools and on the road. It’s a new, not-so-glamorous lifestyle (last week I ate a container of greek yogurt in the car without a spoon). But when I’m out and about, I’m in control. No one cares if I eat in the car or listen to Drake super loud. When I’m back in my cubicle, all bets are off. Every conversation, every rustle of a paper or typing of the keyboard is echoed across the room.
I’ve spent some time on the internet and asking friends, “What’s appropriate cubicle etiquette?” Apparently I’ve been way off.
Top Five Cubicle Rules That I’ve Been Breaking
- Even though cubicles don’t have doors, you’re supposed to knock. You’re not supposed to enter unless the person makes EYE CONTACT. (Whoops).
- When you hear someone else having a conversation, you’re not supposed to “prairie dog” and pop your head up out of nowhere. (Whoops).
- Your cellphone should be on vibrate or silent, so that people next to you don’t hear your text alert constantly. (Whoops).
- Keep your shoes on. (Whoops).
- Resist answering a question you hear someone ask in the cube next to you. (Whoops).
- Use “library voice.” (Whoops).
I guess after teaching middle school for ten years, I’ve become a sloppy, inconsiderate animal. I need a cage, not a cubicle.
But seriously – if I can answer someone’s question, why WOULDN’T they want an immediate answer?! How was I supposed to know that non-verbal eye contact was permission to enter an open space?! When I wear heels all day, I deserve to kick them off for a few minutes!