Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Kindergarten vs. Cubicle

I have returned to my Cubicle. Feels like I never left.

Actually it feels like Monday all over again. Simultaneously it feels like Thursday. Needless to say I'm pretty confused. Which seems to be entertaining some of my less-a$$hat-ish colleagues.

So all week I have been promising that I would come up with some kind of themed post. Today I will actually follow through.

Today's theme is: Kindergarten.

Remember kindergarten? The finger painting? The water table? Show-and-tell? Kindergarten was great. For the most part. There were some things about kindergarten that weren't so great.

Enter the Cubicle.

Turns out that in some ways Cubicle life is like kindergarten.

In kindergarten when you got in trouble you were probably told to sit in the corner. Little did you know then how much you were practicising for when you got a cubicle job and spent entire days facing the wall, discouraged from interacting with your peers.

When you were in kindergarten there was so much to learn. And your teacher would take the time to explain even the simplest things to you like you were a 6-year-old (which was a big deal in say, September, when you were in fact, just 5). In a cubicle world, managers are superior to you in every way so they make sure to explain everything to you like you are a 5-year-old (insulting even in kindergarten). When you were in kindergarten these explanations served to help you understand the world around you. In your cubicle, these explanations serve no purpose.

In order for you and your peers to learn the alphabet and all the other exciting things you covered in kindergarten you had to learn when it was appropriate to talk with your classmates and when you needed to work. When you forgot, your teacher gently reminded you to focus on your workbook. Its pretty similar in the Cubicle, except that there is never an appropriate time to socialize with your colleagues because you are here to work. And also, instead of a gentle reminder to work, there are belittling emails sent around.

Eventually you leave kindergarten behind and before you know it you have arrived in highschool, where everything matters so much more. Turns out the skills you learn as you navigate the social minefield that is highschool will serve you in good stead when you arrive in your very own cubicle.

Remember how clique-y highschool was? Remember how much you hated that? Welcome to the Cubicle, where managers have favourites and you get stuffed in a locker. In highschool there were the popular girls and the jocks; in the office, managers think they are rockstars and take their mediocrity out on you.

In highschool we used to get detentions for being late or for having your shirt untucked (Catholic school). Detention was either a source of shame or a badge of honour but you served it no matter what. Detentions don't officially exist in the Cubicle, but they might as well. If you're late to your cubicle job, you have to make up the time. If you break the dress code (unless you are a supervisor, then the same rules don't apply), you will have a meeting to discuss it. See? Detention.

Are you a little impressed that I managed to twist all this to serve my own purposes? Yeah, me too.

Hump Day. We're halfway to Weekend!


  1. "Its pretty similar in the Cubicle, except that there is never an appropriate time to socialize with your colleagues because you are here to work. "

    That made me really depressed. Seriously, it's so true and can basically be translated to "while you're here you're our slaves". Cue the clip of the boss saying to the poorly paid worker "You know no one is forcing you to work here".

    Go capitalism...

  2. Know what else is like kindergarten? GRAD SCHOOL. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

  3. Very creative analogy. Even though most of it didn't actually fit, it was interesting to see a comparison of the two. Haha.

  4. I really think we're kindred spirits. I'm always telling people work SHOULD be more like kindergarten.

    I noticed this when I'd been out of school and working in a drab newsroom for 6 months, and I walked into my mom's kindergarten classroom and immediately had to sit down from all the color and stimulation. But all that color made me feel good (once I got used to it -- it was kind of vampire-ish).

    Since then, I've insisted on making my workspace as colorful as possible, which isn't very colorful, but it's better than drab. I insisted using brightly colored pens and post-its, and I've kept happy photos on and around my desk. When my work allowed me to change my desktop background (doesn't at the new place and I was super sad), I kept it on brightly colored up-close pictures of plants that changed every 24 hours.

    And that's just the colorful aspects. I'm going go post on this right now.