Corporate America is a Lot Like High School
1. Your First Day
After the shock of realizing just how many people fit into such a well-organized and impersonal place, you start to settle in. Much like when you had a locker, you have your cubicle home and neighbors. You share your cubicle row, and that’s where you all hang out. You have your very own cafeteria to share your short lunch hour with the 1,000+ or so people in your building, and much like high school, if you turn your back on your pudding cup, someone is probably going to take it for themselves. Though you’re an adult now, you still get in trouble if you have your cell phone out during meetings or conferences.
2. Getting Lost
Even after you’ve been there a week or two, sometimes you get lost. Sometimes intentionally. Sometimes on your way back from the bathroom you wind up on the east side instead of the south side, but then you discover that there are cupcakes on the east side on Tuesdays and getting lost isn’t so bad. It’s kind of like eating lunch on the first day, heading to class, getting lost, and somehow winding up back at the cafeteria just in time for second lunch to start. Of course, then there are the times where you really don’t know where the heck you are and you’re almost late for your budget meeting (math class) so you do that half-walk half-run type thing that people do when they’re crossing the street in front of your car, pretending to put in extra effort. You get stressed out and start to panic, but then turn around and your conference room is right there. Phew.
Once you’ve mastered the maze of other cubes, it’s nice to take control of your own. Cubicles are supposed to offer a nice, private escape from your coworkers, a place to really hunker down and focus on your work. Unless of course, your cube mates chew their food like a puppy eats its kibble. Or type so hard that you’re sure their keyboards are going to break down and demand a vacation. Or maybe drink their coffee in tiny little slurpy sips because it’s too hot, instead of waiting five minutes for it to cool to the right temperature. When this happens, you revert to your passing period habit of walking around with headphones and an iPod in the hopes that you make it to 5:00 without saying something you’ll regret.
4. Pieces of flare
Cubicles, like lockers, are crappy. But at least they’re yours. Your own little place to mess up or decorate how you see fit without your mom or significant other getting on your case to clean it. You can litter your desk with cans and bottles of diet Coke and Red Bull and never organize your file folders and still know where everything is. You can put up pictures of cats and your friends and funny Internet comics to show how witty you are. Even if you’re the only one who gets to see how witty you are.
5. Foraging for food and mates
You can eat TV dinners (hot lunch) for every lunch and you’ll learn which Lean Cuisines to avoid or horde. You may even master the art of shaking the vending machine just right so that your salty afternoon morsel un-jams, falling freely into your outreached hand. You will, of course, have an office crush that you never speak to, but see everywhere—and only when embarrassing things are happening to you. At your team happy hour, you’ll work up the courage to speak to him and just as you approach the bar where he’s standing, his wife will show up and give you the stink-eye. It’s homecoming all over again!
At the end of it all, you’ll come home and skip going to the gym (volleyball practice), opting to lay on the couch and watch iCarly instead.
Photo by Zombieite (Creative Commons)