Monday, March 7, 2011

Concierto Cúbico

There are times throughout my extremely busy day in which I find myself sitting my cubicle with nothing but silence to keep me company.

During those times where I find myself sans radio and sans small talk with coworkers, I will sit back in my chair and concentrate on what my half of the floor is vocalizing.

Now if you think that listening to what the floor is saying is somewhat difficult, it really isn't. For better or worse, I work on an open floor. An "open floor" means that because the walls to the various cubicles are rather short (a shade under 5' 7"), sounds and conversations that under normal circumstances would be private, are in fact not.

Let me give you a travelogue of sorts.

For instance, I can hear during my break a loud conversation from the far corner of the floor drifting over to my cubicle. I can hear someone flipping through a pile of papers as they sort out time sheets to distribute to the various departments on payday.

Off to my left, I can hear a phone call or two being played out. A fax machine spitting out a ton of faxes. Above me, I can hear the quiet hum of the heating system seeping through the vents.

Elsewhere, someone is tapping away on their computer keyboard; a desk drawer being opened and rummaged through; someone wheeling their chair back and forth in their cubicle.

A phone is ringing and being answered; the elevator stopping at the floor with its specific dings stating whether they're going up or down. A printer is running a couple of print jobs and even with all of these sounds, I can still hear my computer doing its intermittent internal proccessing.

Sometimes, it can get so quiet on the floor that I can hear the bathroom door open and close, or even a private conversation in Spanish.

And sometimes during my work day, the floor comes alive with so much noise that I can often lose my place in whatever I'm doing at the moment.

What kind of noise?

When a bi-weekly management meeting concludes, everyone comes pouring out of the room with tons of energy and loads of motivation. Extremely loud conversations as people are talking over one another trying to get their point across.

Or, during the holiday season, or even if some is retiring, I can often hear the various celebrations and good times seeping through the closed doors and make it back to my cubicle.

And even though I sit next to a widow on the 8th floor and I'm pretty much insulated from the outside world, sometimes the outside world is loud enough to pierce through the windows to make themselves known.

Finally, at the end of the day is what I like best. The floor slowly goes silent as it carefully regurgitates its current occupants so that its inner chi can be restored to a normal balance.

My friends, thus ends the Concierto Cúbico. I trust that this piece of of avant garde music didn't turn you off and instead opened your mind to the endless possibilities of the complex world we call sound.


  1. I like you concierto, G. :)

    Interesting all the things that can be heard if you take time to listen. This morning I've overheard the news that our receptionist has learned the sex of her baby (a girl), two fat cat salesmen who rarely come into the office greet each other with, "Well, you are alive!" Lots of back slapping. Co-worker Joanne's keys have been busily clicking all morning and she has told the story of what she did on her Friday off so many times that I could do it for her now. It's all good. :)

    Fellow cubicle worker

  2. You should put these observational skills to work. Perhaps a career in PI ing might be for you. I hardly ever notice anything going on around me, except occassionally an irritating cell phone ringing that seems to come out of my wall.

  3. Your post made me think of the film OFFICE SPACE. Any red staplers?

  4. Lynn: I go through that kind of stuff on a daily basis. The bulk of this post only covers a few minutes snapshot of a typical day at work.

    I do this with great frequency because sometimes its the only way to stay proactive at work.

    Charles: I did a lot of this stuff while growing up. Never had a lot of friends, so quite often I would do that cheap and easy game call "People Watching".

    Its definitely a skill needed when you work in state guv'ment, especially now with the local budget deficit sitting at $3 billion dollars.

    David: Would you believe that I've never seen that movie? I've had people try to explain that particular reference, but somehow, its more of a visual than anything else, right?

  5. Sometimes I wish I'd temporarily forget other languages I have studied because I don't want to understand the conversations around me...

  6. I always thought you were honest until I read this: When a bi-weekly management meeting concludes, everyone comes pouring out of the room with tons of energy and loads of motivation.

    Any office with that many meetings that still comes out motivated and excited is unbearably perky and needs to be stopped. Immediately!

  7. R: I can understand that. Sometimes knowing only one can be a blessing in disguise.

    Darth: Like I said, bi-weekly. Every two weeks. So on the average, about two a month. I won't even tell you how many meetings other departments have, but our particular department (H.R.) has about four, two per unit.

    Mine has about two per month.

  8. I really liked that post G:) Really give me a good impression of what it would be like to work in your office. I worked in an open plan office once, many many years ago - there we no cubicles. People still got on with their work but it was nice to share the odd conversation and laughter. Sometimes it's the people that make the job and not the job itself.

  9. Jane: Thanks. I've spent the better part of eight years now working in an open floor environment, and at least for this kind of thing, it's been pretty fruitful as I've gotten quite a few story ideas and blog post ideas from it.

    And yes, sometimes it is the people who make a job.


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