Monday, May 19, 2003

Now I know why the caged bird sings...

...it's to keep from going mad! The environment at my new job is so enervating that, regardless of how much sleep I had the night before, I am ready to pass out on my keyboard by 2:30 every afternoon. The quiet hum of the fluorescent lights, the bland beige of my cube walls, and the utter lack of any kind of conversation anywhere in this vast, cavernous maze all conspire to sap my will to live! Can hazardous levels of blandness qualify as a hostile work environment?

My old job may have had underwater stock options, constantly shifting direction, and a sense that all that was good about the company was steadily being replaced by what was expedient, but at least it had human contact! At least there, on the rare occasions that I was bored, I could launch a Nerf dart at someone to get their attention. Here, I'd have to get a Nerf mortar to get it over the walls, and I'd have to attach a homing beacon so I could find it in the maze.

Speaking of mazes, I still get lost in this building every day. If I ever get cocky and stray from one of the two known routes to my desk, I usually have to go back downstairs, or possibly even outside, to get back to the front door or the cafeteria and start over again. The mind-boggling combination of hundreds of exactly identical cubicles in slightly different configurations leave my admittedly poor sense of direction screaming for mercy. I wander from room to room, looking for some landmark: a conference room that I've seen before, a printer with a familiar-looking printout on it, even some small desk toy left above wall level by some adventurous soul. I've taken to using the toys and the names on the cubes as my favorite landmarks ("Left at the foam snowman, then a right at Jocelyn Miramino and straight on till morning.").

I don't think it's this bad everywhere. I have been in other big companies and managed to walk around without getting so totally lost. This place is so bad, I expect to see graffiti on the walls from previous captives:

Theseus was here. I hate my Dad.
Watch out fer Injun Joe. He almost got me an Becky --T.S.
Keep smelling the cheese, then find new cheese. But don't use it for shampoo, or try to make shoes from it. I'm really sick of cheese.

I'm going to take a pack of Post-its with me on my next explore and leave them on the walls to mark each turn. As long as I get back before the cleaning crew comes through, I should be OK. But I'm bringing a Balance bar, just in case.

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