Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Cubical sweet cubical

I'm amazed at office buildings. To think there are thousands and thousands of buildings filled with nothing but cubical farms. What really blows my mind is that people willingly spend many hours every week in those little boxes. How does this happen?

Prisons I understand. Those folks are there against their will as a form of punishment. What terrible thing did those poor office workers do to end up in a cubical? Sure, people go home from the office every night. They even sometimes get weekends off. Big whoop. It's a part time prison so that makes it fine?

Is is for the money? I really would not know as money has never been a very strong motivator for me. It's a counter in a game I don't want to play. Money does make people do some very strange and demeaning things.

Ask a little kid what he wants to be when he grows up and they never say they want to be an office worker and live in a cubical. No, they say they want to be firefighters, astronauts, professional athletes, cowboys, or rock stars. So how come so many end up in a cubical?

Now at one time it might have made sense. In our society some jobs needed to be done in offices. That's where the office equipment and stuff was kept. There really is a lot less need for that now. A friend of mine is an engineer who once worked in an office. (one of my few friends with that sort of job) Now he brings his laptop out to his backyard near the hot tub and does his design work there. Once in a while he drives to the company to talk to the folks who bend and machine metal to make sure his designs are working.

Then there's the couple my lovely wife and I met at a marina. They were doing medical transcription from the comfort of their trawler. The work kept them fed and the boat running. He used to be a teacher up in northern Maine then one day decided he really really hated -40 weather and moved south. Eventually he and his wife decided boat life was for them.

I'm told there are people who basically go to work so they can use the high speed Internet for updating their Facebook accounts. Companies who monitor their worker's Internet usage too closely have a hard time holding onto workers.

Still, that's not much incentive in my book. The local coffee shop has high speed Internet, plus coffee, pastries, and really nice artisan sandwiches. Perhaps companies have learned to used Internet access the same way prisons use television. It's a cheap way to keep the inmates docile.

My ancestors would have understood the attraction of a cubical. It's inside work and no heavy lifting. Sure beat life starving on a Quebec potato farm. Heck, 19th century New England factory work beat farming the thin and cold rocky soils of the north.

My guess is that it wasn't too hard to fill cubicals when the alternatives were so gosh darn awful. It's like hobos who smash a store window to get arrested so they'll have a warm place in jail to spend the winter. Once folks catch onto the fact that it's possible to live outside of cubicals they are going to have a hard time to keep them filled.

. . . or not. Some prisoners are very happy with confinement and don't know what to do with freedom.



  1. My employment is pretty much spent in a cubicle I share with two other 'knuckleheads', lol. I'm an architectural draftsman, the architect giving us instructions to 'make it look like this', we take from there. It does take a lot of concentration - the line you draw now will be used for reference on future work, so you want to get it as right as possible. Inevitable changes will occur - you have to just suck it up and keep on going. And when you are finished, you wonder what you forgot to note or include. :^)

    It does take commitment to work like this. Much like a writer who can choose where they work (inside - outside), they still need to put in time towards accomplishing their goal.

    I prefer working overtime in the early morning vs. late night. The wheels keep turning otherwise and falling asleep is harder for me when that happens.

    Do I regret not working outdoors ? Sometimes, especially in the spring when the weather is perfect. Summertime noon - not one bit of regret, too dang hot. I get here early in the office, and after making the 1st pot of coffee, go outside (off the clock) and enjoy watching the sun rise. Pretty awesome sight, most people are still commuting to work and don't even notice it.

    So I guess I choose my victories.

    1. Just saying it's not for me. Seems like the kind of job you could do from home -or anywhere with good Internet connections. Maybe go into the office one or two days a week?

    2. Absolutely true, a lot we could get done out of the office environment. The old days, we needed to reference Suites Catalogs or manufacturer binders for our information. Now - its all on the Net.

      We've had consultants work with us in the past. Working from their home, its an advantage for the employer - no insurance premiums to pay, you pay contract price and you are done unless you choose otherwise.

      Our office is a family though - I'd miss them. I've been here since April '93, and the good news / bad news is felt. Small office - less than 10 employees.

      Several years ago, we talked about a four day work week - 10 hours a day. An extra day can be quite an advantage, especially when you have travel plans. In the end, we shelved the idea, but the topic still does come up from time to time.

      Good luck Kevin. One of my coworker's husbands works from the house - he estimates pipe costs for large projects. Makes a good salary and his services are in demand. His only complaint - he gets bored and gets out of the house just for the change in scenery.

    3. Hah, thats SWEETS catalog, its been a while, like I said, lol.

  2. Three more years of cubicle hell to get a $10k dirt cheap retirement annual annuity. Specialty engineer not likely to get a virtual job --- except my current employer might let me have a WORK FROM HOME arrangement four days a week. Crossing fingers.

    1. Hope it works for you. The fact that you call it "cubicle hell" suggests that you've been there too long already.

  3. I don't think people want to work in a cubicle. I think they need to feed their shameless addiction to food and shelter. The entry level jobs tend to be in cubicle farms. Call centers, data entry, billing, that kind of thing. No, it's not sitting in a coffee shop writing novels, but neither is it spending ten hours on your feet over a hot stove, or digging ditches or roofing in July. I've done a lot of outdoor jobs, and I echo what was said upthread. They're great maybe six months of the year, and they're awful for the other six.

    The job market is still tight. Better jobs require skills and training that lots of people don't have.

    1. Like i said, beats trying to scratch a living from a Quebec potato farm.

      If you can't do much on the income side maybe it's time to look at the expense side. Food and shelter, at a basic level, can be pretty cheap. Status costs.

    2. In what world are food and shelter cheap?

      This has nothing to do with status. The guy who works to own a second Mercedes probably isn't working in a cibe farm.

      Say your young and starting out. You need to live someplace.

      I'm not talking about a McMansion. A one bedroom apartment in most of the US runs close to a grand a month.

      Food ain't cheap. Not everyone is in a position to grow their own food, not everyone lives near a source of cheap food.

      If you live in a city, rent is higher, if you live outside of a city, you need a car to get to your job. One way or another, than a few hundred more a month.

      Most of us need to work. If you can't afford schooling for a better job, you do manual labor, which has its risks, or office work, which, yes, blows, but it's better than sleeping under a bridge.

    3. I see people living pretty darn good lives working part time minimum wage jobs, but they are living on anchored sailboats. Had I discovered that lifestyle at 18 my life would be totally different.


  5. I quit working at employers' location and opted to do my design engineering from the comforts of my own home. The drawback to that is that when I had work, I would work 16 hours a day, seven days a week. I have even worked Christmas day. Finally, I said enough is enough, and quit working. I actually miss it, but will not do it anymore.

    1. I know people who work long days at their home business, but they do it so they can take two months off in the winter.

      Nothing's perfect, I guess.