Cubicle Farm Life

About 9 years ago I worked for Satan. Satan is a large office supply retailer, and I worked in their Risk Management Department. It was one of those experiences where it sounds like a really great choice at first then you realize about 24 minutes in that it was a terrible terrible terrible choice.

There were some benefits to working there. I met one of my favorite people there, James, who you’ve heard about in a prior blog post. They also had an omelet bar for breakfast, which sadly is something that kept me there longer than I should have been. If I ever start a company I’ll demand an all-day omelet bar. I think the impact of an omelet bar is grossly underestimated.

But I digress… They were located in a nice spot right off the highway. They had daycare programs for vacation weeks so parents can bring their kids to work during school vacations, which I took advantage of and still think it’s pretty cool. It’s also a very well-known brand so there’s a sense of pride in working there, until you realize you work with Satan, then the pride sort of stops. Sounds like my prior pizza slum lord stint eh? Yep, it’s a trend.

So, after my 3210723th ethics argument with Satan and his followers (ie my refusal to do clearly unethical things) and after James found herself as an unexpected passenger in a car ride with our very drunk (driving) boss after a company golf tournament, we decided this wasn’t really a cultural fit for us. We are averse to silly things like knowingly financially harming claimants, ignoring privacy laws, and being subjected to almost dying at the hands of a drunken driving boss. James and I are weird like that I guess. The other ~7K home office employees seemed to be going about their business.

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This is all fine, just keep walking. It’s fine. 

I’m not the type to burn bridges necessarily. It’s a small world and I’m very diplomatic. But I do stick it to the man in small ways. My friends and family argue that I am “the man” so if I’m sticking it to the man I’m sticking it to myself. Oh well… I still do it. So, James and I both left and before I left I changed all of the passwords to the systems (both internal and external governmental compliance systems) to “JimIsADoucheInSheepsClothing666”. Oh and one login was too an ACH system for transferring large funds, and I changed the password to “MyNameIsJimAndImGrosslyUnderqualified” It’s the little things, right? Hey they told me to leave him the passwords, and I kept my word.

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Then I said good-bye to cubicle farm life. I started working for a large property and casualty insurance carrier in the field. i.e. I had a company car and was on the road 4-5 days a week. FREEDOM! The freedom from the cubicle farm was awesome. I worked many more hours but I made my own schedule and that suited me just fine.

About 3 years in I changed jobs to a home office position, but continued to work from home for about 5 years. Then this year I offered (aghem) to come into the office 3 days a week. Yes yes I know… poor Marie Christine has to go into an office THREE days a week. Light a candle for me at church this Sunday, will you? I also get to choose which days they are, and if for some reason I didn’t make it in for the 3 days, literally no one would notice or care. But STILL… a candle, please.

I will add that with no traffic my commute is exactly 1 hour and 1 minute long. There is never no traffic, so it ranges from an hour and 15 minutes to an hour and 45 minutes each way. Candle please…

It’s only been 2 months and adjusting to #TowerLyfe has been interesting. The first few days I felt like an actual rat in a cage. I didn’t realize how much freedom I had until I didn’t have it. I mean realistically no one is telling me I can’t leave… but I’m not in my Jimi Hendrix Shirt, yoga pants and ponytail in my basement… so… it’s different. Ok by Jimi Hendrix Shirt & yoga pants I meant nightgown & bathrobe… tomato tomahto.

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Not gonna lie it’s pretty much like this. “Can you skype?” “Sorry my camera isn’t working, tech issues!”.

Deleted paragraph about the fact that people don’t work as much as they used to was previously found here… public blog equal edited blog… sigh. 

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I also forgot a few fun facts about working in an office. People chew. Loud. People talk. Loud. People leave the kitchen a mess as if the facilities staff are their personal housekeepers. People can be totally un-self-aware. I was waiting to get hot water last week and the hot water is part of the kitchen sink. There’s a nice side tap for hot tea water. This woman was washing her coffee mug forever. Not forever but I timed it and it was 3 full minutes, as I’m standing there waiting to take maybe 10 seconds to fill my cup. Has common sense and decency also left the building? Don’t get me started on the bathrooms. It’s 2018 and we haven’t solved the mystery of having bathrooms that don’t smell like low tide?

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Thanks to companies like Google and other millennial-grabbing forward thinkers, our office was recently renovated into 22 floors of collaborative space. This means tiny cubes with low walls and lots of open collaboration areas. It looks cool. I feel like I’m on a space ship when I walk into our lobby. There are “pods” you can sit and work in and it’s all very millennial-grabbing and whatnot. I will say the cubicle walls are higher than I’ve seen in some areas so it could be worse. Most closed office space was eliminated (another deleted scene) I’ve never cared about titles or offices. You can’t eat a title. Pay me more, call me whatever you want and I’ll sit in the basement on the floor if you want.

Overall the open space concept is ok. I’m not unfriendly, I think people would say I am friendly. But mostly I just want to do my job and have most people leave me the fuck alone. Ok maybe after reading that back I’m not as friendly as I think I am. Hmmm.

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One of the major upsides is being with my team and our business partners. It’s great to be in person for meetings and we get a lot done when we are together. I feel less disconnected and better understand people being able to get to know them better.

Parking is free, but pretty crazy. I’m used to parking in my driveway, or parking at a client’s office. For the tower, I need to park in a lot then take a shuttle into the office. Not ideal. Allegedly when I get my next promotion I’ll be able to park in the attached garage, so that will give me one less thing to complain about. But I assume the increased level of responsibility will give me more to complain about in general. It’s a complaint balancing act. Our company requires, for branding consistency, that we only use Arial font. As a small way of sticking it to the man is that I use Calibri font on everything. Take that beuracracy! I figure Calibri is a much better way to manage work complaint angst than some other potential options.

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I currently sit next to one of my favorite people at my office, Papa-P. We’ve been working on a project together for almost 5 years. He is super smart, very nice and very productive. He is also thoughtful and doesn’t get nearly the amount of credit he deserves for the level of work he does. That said, he had the audacity put in a request to change desks (ie not sit near me) ALLEGEDLY before I started coming into the office. He will be moving tomorrow to have a window seat, essentially abandoning me in the cubicle farm subject to an unlimited list of possible future seat mates. He’s dead to me at the moment but I’m sure I will get past this unexpected set back. Maybe I’ll forgive him if he starts using Calibri font? This doesn’t happen on the road. On the road it’s you and you alone and your work.

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The upside to this is that I get to hold this over his head until he retires. Or actually until I die, whichever comes first. He also hates attention so I should probably bring attention to this whenever possible. It just makes sense. For all of our co-workers reading this, feel free to guilt trip Papa-P until further notice. Sincerely, gold is from aliens.

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Probably less than a 1% chance of this type of conversation occurring PP (Post Papa-P). The window will not get your sense of humor, because it’s a fucking window. 

Things I hope to avoid with future seat mate:

  • Loud Chewers
  • Late Arrival Early Departure (Lazy people)
  • Negative Nellies
  • Braggers/One-Uppers
  • People whose happiness is associated with the success or failure of a sports team
  • Hygiene Issues (Wear deodorant, don’t clip nails)
  • People in positions they don’t deserve
  • Name Droppers
  • Personal Over-Sharers
  • Hoarders
  • Crossfitters (#BasicBen Exception Applies)
  • Assholes
  • Fad Dieters. No shakeology, paleo, south beach, bone brothers please. I know you believe you’ve discovered the key to life but you sound like an idiot. It will all be over soon when the bacteria from your raw water kicks in.
  • People who don’t stop talking about the weather
  • Up-talkers
  • Shape-Shifters (I’m kidding I would love to have a shape-shifter as a seat mate)
  • Anti-Vaxxers
  • Women who don’t help other women
  • A mom who talks about her kids all day
  • Close talkers
  • People who constantly state the obvious
  • Man bun
  • No sense of humor
  • Huggers
  • People who come to work while sick

Good night folks, if you remember nothing else, remember that gold is from aliens. #Peace

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No, you’re not…. starving

My daughter and I recently went to see Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show, do his stand up routine at The Wilbur in Boston, MA. We are hooked on his show so we were so excited to be there. He is a half-African, half-German from South Africa. He’s a super interesting person and also very intelligent and hilarious. I recently read his autobiography and it was fascinating.

About half way through the show he was talking about what it was like when he first moved to the U.S. He said he was getting ready to go out for take-out for dinner when his roommate said “Dude, I’m Starving”. He laughed and said “No no no……. you’re aren’t starving my friend, you’re hungry”. Growing up in South Africa in hard times, he knew what “starving” really was, and his friend was not experiencing it.

I find that we (Americans) tend to be overly dramatic, un-self-aware and lack a true gauge on suffering…. in many cases.  Dude I’m Staaaaaarving…. I haven’t eaten since my pancake breakfast at Burger King for $2.99 this morning I might die if I don’t eat.  Eye Roll.

“I’m having the worst day… ever”.  Are you? Is having hard meetings at your white collar job and maybe missing lunch or having a cold at the same time the worst day ever? If it is, I would like to transport into your life immediately because my worst day ever looks like Dante’s 5th Circle of Hell compared to your worst day ever.

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Don’t be confused, this is not a post about “snowflakes”. This is about conservatives, liberals, tea party, green party, catholics, jews, anyone…. this is for people who’ve lost self awareness and have adapted to this American sense of self-entitlement that is my official #1 pet peeve.

I need an SUV. I need 2 bathrooms. I need a bigger kitchen. I need high speed internet.  Seriously?  You NEED 2 bathrooms? I grew up in an environment with 1 bathroom and countless people in and out of the house and somehow we managed to survive! #NeverForget   You want an SUV. You want 2 bathrooms. You want a bigger kitchen. That makes sense.  Reach way back in time and think about your grandparents and parents… and think about need versus want.

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My daughter recently told me that she needs a new backpack because hers had a stain on it. She also needs a new lunchbox because hers broke… but her sister’s old one was at home. Did she NEED a new one? or did she want one that wasn’t her sister’s old one.  Duh, we know.  Could I get her a new lunch box? Of course. Did I? Of course not. I consider it my responsibility to train her to understand want versus need so she doesn’t grow up to be one of these people that drives me up a tree with the “need” …. ahhhhhhhhh.

Let’s move on to my favorite un-self-aware statement…. “I’m broke”.  The last person who said this to me has a house they bought in 1999 that is nearly paid off with a monthly payment of $850/month and they are about to pay off their mortgage. It’s safe to say they have about $350K in equity in this house.  i.e. At any time they can sell this house and make $350K.  Guys… no.  They also have a 401K with about 850K in it and enough money to pay their bills.  That said they have 10K in credit card debt because they like to go out to dinner, play golf and have nice clothes. I’m not judging… you do what you need to do it’s not my problem. BUT someone who had 350K home equity and 850K in a 401K is not “broke”.

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Do you know what “broke” looks like? “Broke” looks like going without lunch for 3 years so you can pay for your daughter’s after school program.  “Broke” looks like stealing underwear from KMart.  “Broke” looks like working at places that sell or serve food so you can skim (aka find a way to get some of that food for yourself).  “Broke” looks like selling blood plasma for pasta money.  “Broke” looks like mixing orange juice with water to make it last longer. “Broke” looks like stealing because you have no other choice. “Broke” looks like going without medication so your kids can have school supplies. If none of this sounds like you, stop saying you’re broke. It’s like a man saying they understand how it feels to be a woman or a regular citizen saying they know what it’s like to be in the military. Just stop. I know, I know, the word broke in itself is not the insult…. but just stop the conversation. You wouldn’t tell someone with diabetes you were just as sick as them if you had a cold… that’s what this is like. Please stop.

Is this what every person born into the working class who ends up working in a white collar environment has to deal with? Maybe. I spend a great deal of time pretending that I can relate to the horrors of white collar life, when secretly inside I’m thinking… this person is weak…. or this person is an idiot…. or this person has no idea about real life. Some of them could probably step up if needed, but you just can’t ever know. #RedneckPolice Am I also being a dick? I have no idea. I probably am. I can be “a bit much” as it were. But that’s ok. This is my fucking blog so… there you have it. I think people who haven’t suffered are weak, as a default. Can you blame me? Probably… I’ve heard I can be a bit much. I’m also on my 4th jager, obviously. But you already knew that.

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One of the most common phrases that I suggest people avoid is “Nothing was ever handed to me”. This is legitimately true for some people. But it’s very rare. VERY rare. Did your parents pay for college? Did they help you pay for college? Then THAT was handed to you, ok? Did someone help you with your security deposit on your apartment? Your deposit on your home? THAT is something that was handed to you. There’s nothing wrong with taking it. I hope I can “hand” my children these types of things. But accepting these things excludes you from saying that nothing was ever handed to you. Has your parent/friend given you a recommendation or the name of someone to get your foot in the door somewhere? THAT is something that was handed to you. Yes we get it you are a super hard worker and you are amazing, but you’ve had things handed to you. If you can admit that, you’re on your way to self awareness.

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Saying “nothing was ever handed to me” seems innocent enough right? But saying this is insulting and to anyone who really hasn’t had anything handed to them. There are millions of people on earth who literally have nothing handed to them. They have to start from scratch, or beyond scratch, and fight against all odds to even be in the same room as you or in the same country or in the same meeting. If you had anything handed to you, please stop saying you didn’t, or that you had to work for everything you have.

Say you understand what it’s like to be in the military but you’ve never served? My friend E-GF would like 5 minutes alone with you in a closed room. Trust me, after that you will then gain a full understanding of the difference between you and someone who has served active duty in the military. Nothing compares to being on active duty other than being on active duty.

Say you understand what it’s like to have cancer because your xyz had cancer at some point? You don’t, my friend James would like to speak to you. No, You don’t know. Neither do I.

Oh you can relate to what Muslims in America are going through because someone you know was once an immigrant who is now totally ok? My grandparents and my father dealt with “Italians need not apply”. That was horrible. But a: that was not me it was them. b: It was not the same as religious persecutions. c: Muslims face something we can’t possibly understand unless you are one. If you’re not, shut it.

So…. I was going to write a blog today about some crazy/funny/intresting/depressing/real travel stories because I’m doing more business travel now than ever. But I have so much upcoming travel that I’m afraid I’ll publish and then my next trip will have the best story ever. So I’m going to try my best to wait until the end of the year to post that one.

In the meantime, you get this random rant about me being sick of people who think they are suffering but they aren’t. OR is this a post about me being unsympathetic to people’s perception of their own suffering? Is it me being a dick thinking my suffering makes me more aware than those who haven’t suffered? Probably the latter, but fuck it. This is who I am. And this is my blog so….

This rant has been brought to you by GoldIsFromAliens.com

I’m adding the following meme for no reason other than the fact that I love it so much and jager:

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