June 24, 2017

Surviving in the Land of Cubicles

Surviving in the Land of Cubicles

As I mentioned in a recent article, I found a new job and have headed back to the land of cubicles! For those of you who’re unfamiliar with this place, I will give you a brief explanation of this land so you can appreciate the preparations those of us in the Land of Cubicles must undertake. (Yes, some of this article is written tongue in cheek)

What is the Land of Cubicles?

This is a place to which many travel to make a living. It can be a land of many dangers that one must be prepared for! It can be a hostile land, filled with obstacles that hinder your progress in achieving the goals set for you in making the living you set out to gain. It can be a germ-infested place, sometimes only second to the public education system. Quite often, those who venture into the Land of Cubicles are stripped of any means of self-defense. The Land of Cubicles has also been known to have a draining effect on those who enter it; draining the energy, happiness and life out of those who enter, replacing them with frustration and gloom.

Like I said, some of this is presented entirely tongue in cheek, but all of those things are real. Below are some ways I prepare for the Land of Cubicles.


We all have various obstacles that can make life in the Land of Cubicles challenging. Finding ways to mitigate them is important. I drive further than I care to, and when the weather is even slightly poor, it can take hours to get to or from the Land of Cubicles. To minimize the frustration of traffic, I listen to podcasts or dictate notes for ideas on articles. Another obstacle for me noise. I think people forget that cubicles are not a soundproof box. To overcome this obstacle, at times I will listen to music. Yes, it’s still noise, but it drowns out the personal conversations that I really don’t want to hear.

Many companies have started to tell their employees that if they’re sick, to stay home. Not everyone listens, so making sure one washes their hands often, as well as having some hand sanitizer available, is a good idea. I had a coworker once who kept a can of Lysol at his desk. Anytime anyone coughed near him, he let it fly!

Weapons Free Zones

Here is something to consider; if you take away domestic violence, the vast majority of violence happens at someone’s place of employment. If you go to a mall, there are shoppers there, but the clerks and cashiers work there. If you go to a school, there are students there, but the teachers and administration work there. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

Most companies are weapons free zones. For liability reasons, I can understand why. I just started at my current company and I have no idea if the person I am replacing was fired and left angrily. There is also always a chance that a past or present employee can become disgruntled or that domestic violence could break out at work by an angry spouse who came to visit. Because of this, I have made a point of knowing multiple ways out of the building. I have also made note of things I can use as impromptu weapons, like scissors, fire extinguishers and others.
Soul Draining

Ok, maybe “soul draining” is a little overboard, but spending too much time locked away in a cubicle is not healthy. To make the time in the Land of Cubicles bearable, I listen to music, and actually take lunch breaks. I don’t just eat while I am working. Some people personalize their work space, by bringing in photos from home. This really isn’t my thing, not because I am not proud of my wife and family. Heck if it wasn’t for Trudee I probably wouldn’t have anything on the walls at home either. The point is, do what it takes to make your time in the Land of Cubicles bearable. I normally eat at home or bring in my lunch, but one thing I have done is treat myself with breakfast or lunch out on Friday’s to celebrate having made it through another week!


I usually keep a good sized car kit in the car, just in case I need to make my way home with it, or if I had to stay put at work for an extended time due to an emergency. I do, however, keep some special preps for use inside the building. Here are some items I keep with me that I use more frequently than the kit that stays with the car.

• Lip Balm
• Smalls bills
• Spare change
• Hand sanitizer
• Water bottle
• Swiss Army Knife
• Over-the-counter meds
• Small first aid kit
• Eye drops
• Reading material
• Music and headphones

Do you spend time in the Land of Cubicles? If so, what do you do to survive there?

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  1. Rather than eye drops, I have a timer set to do the 20-20-20 rule. When I don’t do it my eyes get tired, but with that I’m able to work all day. And it’s actually improved my vision a notch.

    Every 20 minutes, I look at a distant object (such as trees outside) for 20 seconds, and then blink HARD 20 times. My timer is polite so as not to disturb others in the cubicle farm. It really helps.

    • Chris Ray says:

      I’ve not heard of this, might have to try it.

      I had Lasik a few years ago, and a touch up one my left eye last year. I have had problems with my left eye since, one being that it get dry frequently.

      • ….and then of course since writing this I’ve begun to have even drier eyes that sometimes need drops. Haha, ironic. But the 20-20-20 rule certainly does take the edge off it, and most days I don’t need anything.

  2. David Fisher says:

    There have been many times I wished I had grenades to toss at the folks that use their speaker phones for conference calls, or converse back and forth instead of picking up the phone, instant-messaging their teammates or heaven forbid, getting up and walking three steps to have a face to face. Keep in mind there are two spare chairs in each cubicle. Anyone want to lob a grenade with me?

    • Thank you for the great laugh David!

    • Lol, David, perhaps a squirt gun would get the point across w/out being lethal. Or leave an anonymous note on their phone, that their conference calls & use of speaker phone is making their cubical neighbors resent them. & to use the ph in a considerate (i.e. quieter) way.

    • Chris Ray says:

      You and me both! I used to work with a guy who listened to techno through his speakers. I loath techno, so this was a problem. I asked him one time if he could use a headset, he said his broke and he couldn’t afford a new one. I offered to buy him one, which he declined. So I politely asked him to turn it down any time I could hear it.

      Silence grenades are something I would buy stock in!

  3. You mentioned the danger side of working in a cubicle. This to me would be troublesome. The sight line is practically nil. To hear a raucous five spaces away and not know what’s going on would be nerve racking at best.

    Good luck with your new job.

  4. So glad you’re back to Work. So sorry for the environment you have to work in. A therapy for cubicle work may be watching Mountain Men or Mich Dodge on the History channel when you get home.
    As an IT Admin and the complete IT Department of a small manufacturing firm I don’t work in a cubicle and I don’t think I could unless I had a window aisle. More power to you my friend.
    Remember to change the height of your chair every day. I hope they allow you to change your desktop picture. I know a good scenic pic helps me every day.
    Could you include an expandable baton in your EDC?

    • Chris Ray says:

      Thanks Jim!

      That item has been known to be found in my laptop bag.

      • Chris Ray,
        I use to lob a pa0per ball every now and then and when that didn’t work I would just sing out loud ! LOL ! Got them every time. I also use to threaten to stop taking my good dirl pills if they kept pushing me ! Good girl pills being my hormone pills ! They were a dire necessity and everyone knew it ! We all laughed about it all as it was all done with laughter and it seemed to work on those days when some forgot that they were working with a group setting !
        Glad to be out of there . I retired several years ago ! Good wishes with your new job !

  5. I had a brief excursion into the Land of Cubicles several years ago and I feel your pain at the soul sucking experience you are enduring. Hopefully something better will come along to rescue you. For me, it was another episode of back problems that left me unable to walk from my car to my cubicle. I had to leave for a second back surgery never to return. We do what we have to in order to survive and pay the bills so hang in there and keep looking!

  6. I can only send my deepest condolences! LOL…it’s amazing what we as humans have learned to put up with just for a paycheck. Cubicles are horrible little things….and funny, but we see pictures everywhere of cute little animals in “cubicles” with captions pleading for their ‘freedom’, yet are willing to put ourselves in one day after day after day! ( Everyone please note…I am an animal lover too, and don’t condone cruelty of any kind..just using this as a “tongue in cheek” ) Congratulations on the new job…and if I ever see you in a “save me” from this cubicle ad….I post it everywhere to get the word out! Blessings to you , Nancy ♥

    • Chris Ray says:

      I have heard people say that the public school system is a training ground for a future life in cubicles. We’re taught to show up on time, play by the rules and so on.

      Thanks for the well wishes, and I’ll let you know if I need busting out.

  7. Tim Brooks says:

    I used to have a co-worker who had ruined his hearing by hanging out in clubs. He would literally talk into his desk phone all day at the top of his voice/volume. I tried to block him out with music, but no luck; so one day I decided that politeness was an outdated idea: I began to “train” him that he was being too loud by chucking paper-clamps across the wall dividing us, then progressively increased the weight of the objects until I was literally chucking my stapler and tape dispenser across the barrier. It didn’t take very long before he switched to using his cell phone and making his calls out on the loading dock during his smoke breaks.

  8. Carl Rooker says:

    Glad you are back to work. I have been spared the land of cubicles, thankfully. However, being a wage slave in any form can be life draining, can’t it.

    God Bless

  9. Another possible weapon: a sturdy letter opener w/ a metal point; one could file the point to sharp b/4 bringing it to work. I’ve also seen those tactical pens w/ a sharp point at the end. I suppose one could sharpen the end of scissors too.

    • Chris Ray says:

      tactical pen isn’t a bad idea.

      • Don’t let it get you down too much, it could always be worse ! For instance, before I worked in the cubicles I worked for years down range with the bombs! That was a little hairy at times and I was on my feet all the day long. Went home many nights with legs and feet hurting me so bad it would take me hours to get to sleep. Then the legs and feet got so bad that they transfered me to the cubicles. It was so bad before I retired that I would get to the loby to go into work and one of the guards felt so sorry for me that he would bring out a chair on rollers and push me to the time clock and then around to my cubicle ! He was a blessing for sure. So enjoy your job and be grateful for small favors when it is possible ! When it is not possible then speak loudly with a firm and determined voice ! lol !

  10. just lost my job yesterday. may have to go back to cubie land in a call center. worked in one before. not excited about it but better than being unemployed.

  11. Chris, came across this in my file – “Every Day Carry in Non-Permissive Work Environments” & thot u might find it helpful as a cubicle worker. http://www.survivalblog.com/2013/08/every-day-carry-in-non-permissive-work-environments-by-d-esq.html

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