Monday, September 10, 2007

Office Space

My first job out of college was located in the newly regentrified area of my city, where wherehouses are commonly renovated and made into trendy million dollar lofts and office space for small start up companies.

The building I worked in was drafty, drab & grey, and the people I worked with matched the interior quite nicely. I worked there for close to 6 months, but it took me 3 to learn the names of the people on my team. I would shuffle up the ramp that led to the clusters of grey cubicles to my own little corner of awesome. I decorated the walls with print-outs of my alma mater's football schedule, jokes from the television show The Office, and to complete the picture of corporate awfulness, I hung a generic calendar featuring squirrels in different seasons above my desk. My computer was situated so that I faced a wall and my back was to the pathway that ran between cubicles. I was conscious of the time I spent on YouTube because I was acutely aware of the fact that anyone could see what I was doing long before I'd be able to quickly click to another screen. The four cubicles in either direction of me sat empty, and so I passed my days with my iPod headphones shoved into my ears, clicking away at the mice and keyboard from 9 until 6. Deprived of my ability to observe my co-workers and my new, corporate surroundings, I was absolutely miserable and at the end of each day, I watched this clip, reminding myself that this wasn't my career.

I changed jobs in early Spring, and with the new position came a completely new set of problems relating to my desk. I am now positioned just around the corner from the restrooms and the Kitchen, and as such, the hallway near me gets quite a bit of foot traffic. When I'm not killing my eardrums with overly loud pop music courtesy of those geniuses at Pandora, I am easily distracted by the characters that speed up and down the hallway each minute. This is problematic because I'm pretty sure I appear to never be doing any work as I am constantly peering above my computer screen at anyone who falls into my line of sight.

But occasionally, my eyes are drawn away from the computer screen and I watch (with feigned disinterest but really, an intense desire to understand the participants' motivations) the elaborate corporate dances that people perform under the harsh flourescent lighting. My nearest deskmate (bane of my existence and subject for my next blog entry), is madly in love with one of my co-workers. She struts up and down the hallways as though she is some sort of model and when she catches the eye of the object of her desire flashes him a look not unlike a woman searching for someone to take home as the lights turn on during last call at a bar. My co-worker, oblivious to her advances, smiles brightly in his naturally flirty manner, unknowingly giving her encouragement to continue her ultimately fruitless endeavors.

At the other end of the spectrum is a woman maybe 2 or so years older than me who has captured the imagination of every man she comes in contact with. She walks down the hallways usually with 2 or 3 men in tow, and they chuckle and fawn all over her as she talks. In a company with a startling lack of estrogen, the presence of a pretty girl can yield all sorts of results. I have never once seen her alone.

There is a man who wears the same paint of paint splattered pants to work everyday, and who never fails to wink at me each time he catches my eye.

There are three women of the same ethnic background who walk everywhere together and who warmly smile and laugh together, sharing conversations in their native tongue in the bathroom or while getting coffee in the breakroom. Theirs is the sort of camraderie that makes me feel lonely for my friends in college, and stands out amongst the friendships people carve out in corporate America because it seems to go a little deeper than the ones I see most of the time that are based upon "walking around a bit of carpet everyday."

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