angry purple

In which our hero becomes a cube farmer

Not having used public transportation on a regular basis, I’m still a fan of it, particularly rail systems.

I fondly remember rail trips in Spain between Torremolinos, with its topless beaches and discotheques, and Malaga, where they showed bullfights on television from the bullring in town, and where my friend Paulie was once on a desperate search for a public restroom and, upon finally finding one in a department store, with all stalls filled, came this close to releasing the kraken in a wash basin. “I’m going to do it, Slug! I’m going to do it!” His cries echoed from the cold tile. Anyone just walking in would have thought he intended to jump out the window to splatter himself on the sidewalk below. Just in time, someone finished up and saved poor Paulie the mortal embarrassment of dropping trou in a Spanish sink.

During one MacWorld conference in Manhattan I jumped on the subway just to see how many tourist attractions I could reach and photograph in the hour and a half I had until I was supposed to meet a friend. From my hotel in the theater district I shot down to the Empire State Building, then to Grand Central Station. From there I went up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim, took a short bus ride across Central Park to the Museum of Natural History, and then to Lincoln Center. I didn’t have time to go into any of these places, I just wanted to see how well I could switch from train to train, using my subway map and Palm Pilot as unobtrusively as possible so as not to be perceived a rube and rolled for my shekels. Not much of a challenge in that part of town, I suppose, but it was still fun.

I’ve been working in Oakland these past several days and I’ve been using BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). My apartment is relatively well situated to a station one stop away from a terminus which means I always get a seat in the morning and end up with a seat, at most, halfway through my ride home in the afternoon. So far, BART is the only rail line I’ve seen where the passengers line up at designated points and the trains actually stop with their doors lined up with those points. No milling about in a mob for Bay Area residents. It’s so very civilized. How dull.

The other day I was rather surprised to see an Asian man playing a Chinese viola, a hu qin of some sort, at my home station in the burbs of North Concord. I would have expected the like at one of the city stations but not here. Nevertheless, I was so pleased that it wasn’t just another guitar or saxophone that I pulled out four quarters that were jingling in my pocket, making me sound like my own father, and walked over to the musician. I bent low over his instrument case so that the quarters wouldn’t bounce out when I dropped them and the hu qin player, wearing a white short sleeve shirt, dark glasses, and a pork-pie hat, bent over with me. I don’t know whether he was bowing politely or watching closely to be sure I didn’t snatch a handful of money. He mumbled something when I dropped the coins. It didn’t sound like Cantonese or Mandarin for thank you. For all I know he might have just called me a gwailo or wished me a life in interesting times. I didn’t care.

These past several days I’ve been working in a cube farm in a beautiful old blue and white building that used to be a grand hotel. What an ignominious fate. I’m sure there are people who can get work done in a cube farm. I’m not one of them. I’m constantly distracted by the blathering and the constantly ringing phones and things like what happened last Friday.

Last Friday a fat balding man, with a simpering smile, sat down in the “hotel space” next to mine. A hotel space is an open cube used by people who don’t normally work in a particular office, for those not in the know. Particularly appropriate for this building. He set up his laptop and immediately it started blaring out sound files he had chosen for his alerts and notices. About every five minutes Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation would tell him he had an email by growling “Captain… receiving incoming message.” About every five seconds something would trigger the Three Stooges to sing “Hello, hellooo, hellooooooo! Hello!” until I began considering malevolent scenarios with my staple remover. Under all of this, for eight full hours, his computer played one television theme song after another, non-stop, with no repeats. I should be ashamed to be able to make a list like this, but these were the songs I either recognized or could pick out from the theme itself:

Xena, Maude (at which he tapped his fingers on the desk with pleasure), Thundercats, Charlie’s Angels, CHiPs, Star Trek (both new and old), Odd Couple, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dallas, The $64,000 Pyramid, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, High Chaparral, Sanford & Son, Barney Miller, A-Team, Captain Marvel, Gomer Pyle, Friends, The Carol Burnett Show, The Patty Duke Show, Night Court, Green Acres, Hawaii Five-O, Lassie, Victory at Sea, Pound Puppies, My Favorite Martian, Bonanza, Freakazoid, The Munsters, Perry Mason, Cosby Show, Superman (50’s version), and I Love Lucy.


Eight hours, without letup and without repeat. I shudder to think of what the room of the house he shares with his mother looks like.

Today, on the cube farm, there is a rambunctious group of women yammering away in a nearby office, one of whom has a braying laugh that echoes off the looming walls of my beige, undecorated cube. I have accomplished nothing. Considering that my contract may be ending at the end of the week I hardly think it matters.
  • Current Mood: cube farm
Srry I have been sprase with comments lately.

I hope all is well.

I think if you were forced to sit next to me in an office environment that you'd long for the TV Theme show man. Today I sang the chorus of Mr. Blue Sky by ELO over and over because I don't know any of the other words. Sometimes I sing the chorus to "sweet talkin' woman" and do the echo vocals very high pitched:
you gotta hold on (HOLD ON)
Sweet talkin' woman (SLOW DOWN)
you got me running (RUN RUN)
YOU GOT ME SEARCHIN!
Just realized I messed up the lyrics a smidge. Oh well, they're much better with the high pitched singing anyway.
i don't know if you watch the american version of "the office" but this is a list of various things jim has done to dwight.

it almost makes me wish i worked in a cube farm and there was a dwight. the guy you are describing is a dwight, i think.
That would be something I would end up doing. In fact, it reminds me of a story that I'll relate at another time.
My boyfriend is in a similar situation at work. His small office group has been moved to a large cube farm, he got the worst possible cube, near the elevators, bathrooms and the hallway. We thought his contract might end this coming Friday, but he got an extension through Christmas in the nick of time.

His solution to getting work done is earplugs and some heavy-duty headphones (the kind that cover your ears). He said it's blocked out most of the noise.
Maybe it would help you, too?