Monday, September 12, 2011

Crazy cube-neighbors

I actually have a couple of work assignments to turn around this week, as opposed to my usual time-killing busywork, so I’m going to keep today’s check-in from the cubicle farm as brief as I can. But I have been meaning to talk a little bit about the neighbors. Who are kind of nuts.

I don’t want to get too specific about what other agencies share the same floor of this government office building because things like operational locations technically constitute security considerations which I am expected to observe and uphold (and, for what it’s worth, with which I happen to agree). But whatever the official mission statement or acronym of the group that occupies the opposite side of the suite, it has something to do with munitions. I know this because they leave them lying around.

OK, maybe not lying around, but standing up against the outside walls of cubicles, in the walkways, these lovely collections of shells and warheads that come up about waist-high and which I (if only to preserve my own sanity) am forced to assume are disarmed, defused or otherwise deactivated … probably?

That whole group, whoever they are, don’t just stop with rockets, either. They moved in after my agency did and immediately made their side of the floor look like they had bene there for years, with all the posters and prints and knickknacks and whatnot that they hung on the office walls and cubicle borders and suspended from the ceilings and so on. Their side of the office looks exceptionally cluttered, and by comparison my agency looks like transients who aren’t getting too comfortable in case we have to pick up and leave again soon.

Clutter isn’t necessarily indicative of a mental state one way or the other, but I can offer as additional evidence some goings-on in the shared floor kitchen. The kitchen is centralized for the entire suite’s use but only has one door and that door happens to face Missile Command. They may feel a bit of de facto ownership as a result. They certainly wasted no time setting up a huge coffee service in there, complete with excessive signage explaining that it was for a private coffee club to which one could subscribe and participate. (This is actually not that unusual in government offices where they’re too cheap to pay for coffee out of the operating budget, so that didn’t really faze me.) But then some other signs started appearing on the kitchen bulletin board.

You know those signs people make where, say, they want to sell a couch? So they fill up the upper ¾ of a sheet of paper with info about the couch, and then they repeat a phone number across the bottom ¼ with a vertical orientation, and then they cut lines between those phone numbers so anyone who wants to take the phone number for future reference can tear off a single strip and leave the rest? (I feel like I have to over-explain this because it clearly predates and seems impractical in the face of smart phones, Craigslist, and various other modern obsoletizers.) Anyway, one day someone put up a sheet like that in the kitchen, except the upper portion simply said “Free strips of paper – please help yourself” and the fringed bottom section was blank. I admit, that got a chuckle out of me the first time I noticed it. Then last week, someone put up a sequel. This time the main section said “Free chicken strips” and the bottom section had a clip art image of a hen repeated and pre-cut for easy tearing. Which normally I would classify as “delightfully bizarre” but if it came from the same folks who consider spent howitzer cartridges to be décor then I’m not sure how far the “delightful” part extends and how much is just plain “bizarre”.

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