In my desperate attempt to be hire-able, I went to a temp agency. The agency was very kind in taking my overqualified application to companies with administrative positions all over the area. I went to two interviews for random companies that I still have no clue what they sell or what the position entailed.
After one of the interviews, I was immediately offered the job. I was so excited, I felt like I finally won something in the elusive job market. But that feeling quickly faded when I realized they offered me the position based solely on the fact that I have a car and am a human being. What a privilege. But, hey, it was a full time job that paid state minimum. Who was I to say no to a consistent paycheck?
It was a typical office space. A maze of cubicles separated by the occasional printer and crammed between the boss’s personal offices. The morning would be full of grouchy good morning grunts, a crescendo of the clicking and clacking of the keyboards as the boss’ walked by in the afternoons, and the Friday ritual of playing the Tequila song over the speaker phones. None of the cubicles have any personal photos or decorations, only memos and notices relating to the job.
Have you seen Office Space? Do you recall any breaks, eating at the desk, or any conversations beyond Peter Gibbons’ desk or the cooler? Well that is because office spaces are just like the movie. Employees do not leave their cubicles except for lunch breaks and smoke breaks. Just like the movie, there is a lack of personality in the space and among the people.
There was a kitchen area in the back with all the kitchen necessities to prevent any and all employees from every leaving the building during their lunch break. And behind that was the warehouse, a colossal mess of products, shipping stations, and a small loading dock. There was also a meditation room where employees would sneak the occasional nap and later brag about it.
The Meditation Room
During a lunch break, one dedicated employee complained that employees should not abuse the meditation room. This person argued that the boss’ added the room so they could meditate and offered it to other employees to use as well. And therefore, taking the occasional nap was abusing such a privilege. Now, usually I ignore all conversations during lunch because it was the only time we were allowed on our phones. However, this statement really bothered me.
I completely understand Peter’s mental break and Milton setting fire to the building. Working in an office is soul sucking. Staring at a computer for eight hours, making pointless small talk, hearing whispers of office gossip, and sitting up straight when the boss walks by would make a person lose their mind. And I did. I would come home every night and just lay on the couch mindlessly watching tv and the only thing on my mind was what a life in an office would be like. Could I live everyday like this? Could I live with myself hating every minute of my day and waiting for the sweet music of Tequila every Friday?
Including a meditation room in an office is not going to solve anyone’s existential crisis. The boss did not include a meditation room for them or the employees to share. They created it for a sense of family. They wanted the employees to feel like they were cared about. There are much better ways than a shitty meditation room to show your employees that you care. Making the office space a less shitty environment and realizing that people were not meant to sit in front of a computer for eight hours straight is a good place to start.
The most surprising thing about the employee defining the purpose of a meditation room was how quickly they defended the boss. This person truly believed the boss’ well being was more important than their own. At that moment, I realized what made the office space so soul sucking.
There was no room for individual personalities. I don’t remember anyone’s name because they were all the same. They counted down the days until Friday so they could enjoy an entire weekend of watching shitty tv shows without the impending doom of returning to work the next day. They like to eat lunch as late as possible so there would only be three hours of work left instead of four hours. I would listen to their conversations at lunch and realized I had nothing to say. I didn’t watch the same tv shows as they did and I don’t like musicals. I also didn’t fall for corporate bullshit.
So, when I got the call for a part time public-library position offer. I took it. Sure, it was less money and less hours. But it was not soul sucking. I proudly left the office space with two birds out my window, no one saw but I didn’t care. I was finally free from the office space.