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October 3, 2013
Cube Life: Inside The Gray Mini-Walls
DISCLAIMER: I’m lucky enough to have a current work location that’s basically just me and “John Doe,” another writer at the agency. J.D. puts up with me with saint-like patience and actually exhibits none of the negative traits discussed below. As for me, however...
Approximately 73% of the U.S. workforce spends 40 hours a week in a faux prison cell known as a “cubicle.”* And workers in the advertising world are no exception.
Try as you might, you will never be able to design, decorate, or devise a way to the perfect cube. There will always be something to annoy, offend, or bother you.
Here’s a day’s worth of stuff you might experience in the cube farm (and a peek into the mind of your fellow cube-dwellers):
9:35 a.m.: Late arrival.
“There s/he is, late again. I bust my butt to get here on time — even early — and they roll in after I’ve already crossed three things off my To Do list. Eh, I’m no tattle-tale.”
9:55 a.m.: Breakfast smells.
10:35 a.m.: Bodily functions, Part I.
“Did s/he just fart? Did I? Did somebody take a bath in water buffalo dung?”
11:05 a.m.: Loud music.
“I get it, dude. You love Built to Spill. There are other bands out there, you know.”
11:45 a.m.: Lunch invitations.
“Man, do I have to invite her? Do I have to invite the whole department? Why can’t it just be like three or four of us? What if they accept the invite? Or even worse — ask me to bring something back?!? ARGH!?!”
1:45 p.m.: Overheard conversation.
“C’mon, go talk about having that wart removed by your dermatologist in the hallway like we all do.”
2:15 p.m.: Coffee run.
“Oy, another opportunity to be your butler. What? A venti mocha frappuccino with soy, no whip? Sure, I’d be happy to fill your complicated order while you sit there comfortably.”
2:55 p.m.: Bathroom visit.
“Wow. I thought I had gastrointestinal issues. Dude’s been gone like a half-hour. Unless he’s got a lot of lives left in Candy Crush. Or he’s on a phone interview for another gig.”
3:25 p.m.: Sneezes.
“Clearly, young lady, you are allergic to oxygen, carbon, and cotton. How many times am I obligated to bless you?”
3:55 p.m.: Coughs.
“Seriously, go home before you infect us all. Those coughs sound like your lungs are trying to expel themselves from your body.”
4:45 p.m.: Early departure.
“Are you kidding me? We all want to beat the rush and get home. Grumble grumble lazy good-for-nothin’ grumble grumble rhubarb.”
And we won’t even get into the insanity of each kind of cube location from “by the front door” to “next to the kitchen” to “adjacent to the boss’s office.”
Just know, my fellow cubists, that you are not alone. You are loved. And you are very likely being spied upon by the person in the next cubicle.
Please tune in next time, when I blather on about more inane stuff that’s loosely related to the advertising industry.

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With 20+ years of experience — both at agencies and "on the client side" — Harley David Rubin has enjoyed many challenges and opportunities in his career. He's currently freelancing, with an eye toward starting his own creative communications company. And he loves to share the stories and "wisdom" he's accumulated over the years. (Because what writer doesn't love talking about himself?) He's truly thankful for the opportunity to write for TalentZoo.com, and he's happy to connect via LinkedIn or even on Twitter at @hdrubin.
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