Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cubicle Trends: From Serene to Obscene

I'm not sure how American cubicle dwellers compare to cubicle dwellers in other countries, but I do know that, in general, Americans tend to overdo things. We eat too much. We binge drink. We overindulge in just about everything -- from buying big houses we can't afford to insisting on driving gas guzzling vehicles propelled by fuel that is the very color of evil. So it's no surprise that in our obsession for things we don't need and can't afford, we have serious psychological issues rationalizing how we live and why, with why live that how. Lets' face it, for all the complaining everyone does about working in a cubicle -- which about 40 million Americans do -- there has to be some trade off: money to send our kids to school, money to pay back those student loans, money to simply buy food. See the trend here? But don't worry, people have done far worse things to their souls for money than settling on a professional life in a cubicle.

Nevertheless, the cubicle environment is without soul; add workplace stress and annoying coworkers to that equation, and you've got an unhealthy setting on every level -- emotional, spiritual, social, and physical. So we decorate our cubicles with reminders of home, of friends, of family, and the reasons why we've consented to being trapped in poorly-carpeted walls. Some people in emotional distress, however, go overboard with their cubicle comforts, and turn their workstations into a veritable psychologist's office complete with fountains bubbling with streams of water dribbling over stacked rocks, ocean sounds emanating from plastic speakers, and creepy motivational pictures and postures with slogans designed to numb one's individuality into a polished pair of boots marching alongside everyone else to the beat of the company's mission statement. It's understandable, but try not to look too desperate. There's a line between serene and obscene. And it's usually the creepy fountain. It's not that relaxing. Wait until you get promoted to an office. Then you can be really weird.

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