Cube Farm.

The printer keeps beeping, indicating an error. Three loud tones, BEEP BEEP BEEP.
The phone hasn’t stopped ringing. One long loud ring if it’s an incoming call; two shorter, quieter, ones if it’s someone in the building paging her desk.
People’s voices. Constant, unending. One is high pitched and demanding, another low and mumbling.
Pens clicking. Keyboards clacking.
Footsteps. Someone in thick & chunky heels, pounding up the stairs. Someone else in loafers, the gentle (yet deafening) swish of their polyester slacks brushing up against themselves as they walk by.
Papers being shuffled. Sorted & slapped against the desk to make sure all the edges are in line. Three-hole punched, then stapled.
Bubbles in the water cooler.
Fans from the a/c unit.
Someone’s cellphone.
Someone’s loud cackling laugh.

Constant noise.

Beige walls, navy cubicles, and grey carpet.
Wooden desks scratched from binder clips and staples.
Dust lining the cubicle dividers.
Fluorescent lighting, harsh on the eyes.
Computer screens lit up like the Fourth of July.
Manila folders on every surface, white paper peeking out of the corners.

No windows, no sign of the outside world.
A modern day prison, disguised as a source of viable income, where your sentence is 8.5 hours a day, Monday-Friday.

The clock strikes noon.
She’s out of her seat in a flash.
The phone rings once, twice. She’s unpacking her lunch, a peanut butter & jelly sandwich on stale white bread, a bag of Lay’s potato chips, and a Dr. Pepper. Someone else can pick up the phone; perhaps that high pitched woman with the incessant cackling and self obsessed commentary.

Mid-fifth ring, she gives up. The Cackler is still rambling on to no one in particular about chicken parmasean & veal marsala. The woman on the other end of the line is asking questions that another department needs to handle, and refuses to be transferred.
Of course.
Twenty three minutes into her half-hour lunch, she’s finally able to open her chips. But she doesn’t open the bag, take a bite of her sandwich, or pop open her can.

Instead, she grabs her purse, glances once at her cellphone on the desk, decides to leave it where it sits, and leaves.


Popular Posts