Since the dawn of time, or at least since movies have been around, people have been trying to figure out the meaning of life. Why are we here? What’s our purpose on this big blue spinning marble? Those are just a couple of the questions people have been speculating for some time.
The folks at Monty Python have a whole movie about it – The Meaning of Life. Forest Gump talked about it being like a box of chocolates. Jodie Foster in Contact hops into an alien designed pod, is whisked off to another dimension and learns that this life is just part of the journey of our species trying to eventually join the other aliens in the journey. The recurring character Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation is sent from his race (also called the Q) to engage Captain Picard and, as the series progresses, guide the Captain through challenges, helping expand his mind and ultimately that of the Federation, well at least Picard.
All of those movies, shows, characters, etc. try to help answer the question of our purpose.
(And, highlight my rank in the nerd army.)
But, one character, in one movie really brings it home. Curly Washburn, played by the late, great Jack Palance, in the movie City Slickers summed it up when he said it comes down to one thing.
Well, I’m here to tell you I’ve solved it!
Wait, what? No not the Secret of Life-Life! What do you think I am some disciple sent from the heavens and thrust into a drab gray cube waiting for my moment to jump up and yell Eureka!?
No, I’m talking about the Secret of Cube Life.
Like the human species floating through the heavens on the marble, those of us in the working world are traveling through the cubicle maze of office life. There are many pitfalls in the world of the office building that we need to be wary of in order to make it out alive. From all of the office politics, masquerading as a game of Corporate Survivor, to trying not to get food poisoning from the executive lunch meeting left-overs put out in the break room. Yes, there are many, many traps in the office environment designed to test you as a member of the cubicle species.
Some of us will survive. Some of us will perish. Office Darwinism is alive and well that’s for sure.
One attribute that both the human species and the cubicle species shares, at least those who aren’t part of the yearly Darwin Awards, is learning…adapting…evolving. Our ability to evolve is what often saves us…or, without it, dooms us.
There are many strategies for making it through the mess known as work. Some just hunker down and do their job; not talking to anyone except those forced to, and then they go home. Others are take charge, go on the offensive push and leave a wake of collateral damage in their path. Still others do the passive/aggressive hybrid model.
Some of the challenges aren’t so much related to how you do your job as they are related to how you work with your coworkers. Some say dealing with all the wackadoo personalities (yours truly included) in the work place requires a Psych degree just to make it through the day. In my little slice of work heaven we have our fair share of oddities (yet are they really unique to my world?).
I’ve given you numerous examples of Cubicle George and his antics – corporate cheerleader, VP of Company Kool-Aid Manufacturing and Distribution and general all around HR nightmare loudmouth.
I’ve also given you a glimpse into WikiWally – knower of all, master of everything, the walking, talking (way too loud and often) version of a Wikipedia. If the subject exists (and often if it doesn’t) he’s got the answer. And, like Wikipedia you never really know if it’s accurate or not (it’s not), but it spews data so confidently that you have a hard time refuting its results.
Stay back folks they’re all ours!
I’ve employed many tactics to ward off their productivity draining powers over the years. Some are mildly successful – like that time I hid George’s phone (he found a replacement within the hour but boy was it a fun hour…not necessarily quite with all his screaming, but it was fun).
Others not successful at all – politely suggesting that the next time Wally wishes to talk on the phone for 20 about the merits of nuclear powered everything, only then to state, “So the real reason I called was…”, that he may want to get a room so as to not disturb others. Incidentally, I’m seriously thinking of providing Wally’s contact info to the Iranian Nuclear Scientist job hotline. After all, he’s 1) an expert and 2) those Iranian scientists often get blown up while walking down the street. Still working through the details.
As regular readers of the Cubicle Views you also know that I love my noise cancelling headphones. Nothing like escaping into the solitude of some tunes to drown out the chatter of a neighbor sitting all of 2 feet from you separated only by a two-inch thick polyester covered piece of fiberboard.
But no, none of these are the Secret of Cube Life. Nope. Ladies and gentleman, the Secret to Cube Life is…
Strategically Timed Vacations!
No really, here me out. This week has been glorious! You want to know why? Well, the schools in our area, probably like yours, recently had the “we haven’t had a break from classes in oh a month”, week off – aka Ski Week, which btw is oddly named as very few go skiing. But, what it also ends up being is the week many people take off from work to be with the kids. And, that is just what Wally and George did. Halleluiah! Praise Jebus!
Did I take this week off? Hell no! Why would I want to miss out on a golden opportunity for a whole week without those two jokers? Nope, I didn’t take it off. I’m saving my week off for a week when they are IN the office! Yep, it’s kinda like double dipping in that it equates to two full gloriously quiet weeks without my arch nemisises…nemisi? Whatever, you get the point.
There are countless opportunities for this tactic – the week between Christmas and New Years is a prime one. After all, it’s slow that time of year. Many companies shut down. Most people take it off. Me? Hell no! I “work” that week – aka come in around 10 leave around 3…you get the drift. Why? Four words: No Wally. No George. Oh but wait, it gets better. When they come back…BOOM I go on PTO!
Genius I tell you.
So folks, remember you heard it here first. The Secret to Cube Life is: Strategically Timed Vacations.
Now go forth into the world and save your PTO days!