Walking ~ Days 281-283 Writing in a Cubicle

I revisted the McSweeney website after a long hiatus from my cubicle, back when I came across all sorts of literary gems to read while sitting for healthcare. How I missed Mike Sacks’ Whoops! I will never know. If you have never done accounting in a cubicle, you may not get the joke but I was LMAO reading it, tears rolling down my cheeks.

I can’t honestly say I miss those days but in an odd way, a very odd way, they were fodder for the creative mind. The minutes slowly ticking by, the repetitive boring tasks such as entering one hundred invoices onto an Excel spread date: Date Invoiced TAB Invoice Number TAB Amount TAB Date Paid ZZZZZZZ……

Is it the monotony of the job that causes the mind to wander? Where does the mind go when doing tasks such as this? Sex came to my mind quite often. Unfortunately, not many guys in my office turned me on. I couldn’t picture them riding naked on a horse. Well maybe some of the young guys.

One particularly boring afternoon I noticed a guy from Order Entry standing at the copy machine. He had stunning blue eyes, Best Boy eyes, like in my novel The Reverse Commute, which I wrote at three in the morning and while working in my cubicle, surreptitiously jotting down random ideas that passed through my wandering mind. I wrote these epiphanies on sticky notes, sliding them in my purse under my desk or sticking them in my pockets. It was a haphazard system at best but it got me through the long eight hour day. Day after day after day.

Squeezing into her seat, she bumped legs with the boy sitting next to the businessman. He looked up. She caught her breath. Exceptionally good looking, in a Seattle grunge sort of way, he was definitely her type. His long, wavy brown hair, covered with a knitted green, yellow and black cap, brushed his shoulders. His scruffy beard was similar to Dan’s, but not as neatly trimmed. He was wearing an open, untucked flannel shirt over a Blazed and Confused Summer Tour T-shirt, faded jeans and well-worn work boots. His eyes were a beautiful shade of light blue. They twinkled like the first star in the night sky.

I leaned back in my rolling desk chair, eyeing the Order Entry guy’s tight young butt as he fed papers into the copy machine, his dark hair cut too short, almost a buzz cut. I knew he could be really hot if he wore it a little longer. I am obsessed with guys who have a great head of hair. I thought about telling him, in a tactful way, like when it was longer, just before a haircut, at the coffee station in the cafeteria. Something like, “Hey you look great today, I like that shirt and your hair, did you do something different….”

He picked up the stack of papers, tapped them on the table, making them all neat and straight, then turned as I quickly rolled my chair back towards the Excel spreadsheet, getting slightly hung up on the plastic mat protecting the wall to wall carpeting, the chair starting to tip to the left. I managed to right my sinking ship before I crashed on the floor of my cubicle, but not without making a loud thump and a clunk that reverberated through the quiet room of worker bees who were most likely not thinking illicit thoughts while working. Blue Eyes looked into my cubicle as he passed by, a concerned look on his face as I placed my hands on my keyboard like a virtuoso pianist and joined the symphony of clicking and clacking typists, not looking up as I entered nonsense on my spreadsheet.

Desperate for something, anything to get me through my days, I turned to Ryan Gosling. He was everywhere back then. Blue Valentine. Drive. Crazy Stupid Love. The writers of that movie understood the frustration of an accounting life spent in a cubicle.

David Lindhagen (played by Kevin Bacon): “I like you, Emily. Do you have any idea how much I like you?”

 Emily Weaver (played by Julianne Moore):Hey David you know, I really have a lot to do.”

David Lindhagen:” I…I had no intention of falling for a married woman, but I’m somewhere having lunch and I’m…I’m this accountant who’s waking up every morning excited to go to work. And that just does not happen for accountants, ever. I…I…I’ve checked with other accountants.”

I believe Mike Sacks must really be Mike the Talking Horse. He clearly spent time in a cubicle. I never sent an erroneous, embarrassing email like Mike the Talking Horse but I did once send a text massage that went wrong. Terribly wrong.

I first sent the following text message to my boss:
Sick today. Stomach bug. Feel awful.
The invention of the text message has really improved the task of calling in sick because I rarely used sick days when I was actually sick. Unless I was puking violently, I saved sick days to augment my meager, stingy vacation time. No longer did I have to save those first raspy, hoarse words of the morning for the sick call.
But then I sent this message:

“Hey Liz, I took a fake sick day. Want to meet me for lunch?”

“Yeah, what are you thinking?”

“A boozy lunch. Chowdah and white wine. How about the seafood joint in Exeter.”

“Meet you at one. Sounds good.” 

Damn IPhones. Once in awhile I have mental pauses brought on by menopause  and I assume the genius of Apple, or that Siri chick who drives me nuts, magically knows who to send my text message to. The damn boozy lunch message accidentally went to my boss. After sending the news of my fictitious stomach bug, I just started typing the next message.
The good news is, this happened two weeks before I planned to give my notice. So although my heart was pounding when I saw the fake sick day text had gone to my boss, the first thought that ran through my head was, maybe I’ll get fired and be able to collect unemployment. It didn’t work that way, my boss never mentioned it.
One of my last days at work, I did send an email with the photo below to a few select people. I thought they might enjoy it as much as I did. We all worked on SAP, a software package for accountants. I got a mixed response. Apparently not all people who work in cubicles are thinking about sex. Just me and Mike Sacks over at McSweeney’s.
hey girl sap
I spent the rest of the afternoon thinking about meeting Ryan in a supply closet.
One day at the coffee station, I ran into a young man who used to work in the cubicle next to me before he was moved to another department. He told me he was writing a screenplay:
“It’s just a way out of here and I can’t wait until it’s done and I sell it. Then it’s see ya later, I’m out of here.”
I told him I was writing a novel. “Working in a cubicle has led the both of us to madness and creativity,” I told him.
Yes madness and creativity. Here’s some advice from Dilbert:

* Dating Coworkers — The world is full of attractive people whom you will never meet. Your only hope for romance is to lower your standards until co-workers look good.



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