Hynes on Cubicle Space

James Hynes, author of Publish and Perish, has written this about cubicle offices:

The year my second book, Publish and Perish, came out, I took a job as an office temp for a large Texas state agency, working for eight dollars an hour. This was one of the inevitable low points on the sine wave of my career, a boring day job being the default mode of a midlist writer?s livelihood. Still, I had never worked in an office before, and the experience was more exotic than humiliating. Within a day of finding myself in a cubicle for the first time in my life, I was taking notes like an anthropologist about the strange folklife of the office?PowerPoint, anyone? Secret Santa??and within a week I was planning to write about it.

I had an epiphany one soporific mid-morning when I stood up in my cubicle to stretch myself awake. Turning slowly in place, I scanned a complete 360 of the cube horizon. The scene was slightly underlit, and while I could hear all sorts of human activity?talking, phones ringing, keyboards clattering?I couldn?t see another living person. I felt as if I was working in a room full of ghosts. The alienation of cube life was suddenly revealed to me as something gothic, a variation on the creeping dread of a Poe character. I could be walled up alive inside my cubicle and no one would even notice?the Cube of Amontillado.

(Thanks, Maud Newton And in my own backyard! ).







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