CUBICLE HELL

20 06 2009

Friday Night I Wrote This:

“As I left work (the last worker to leave, by chance), on my way to the door I passed through the gray and disorderly space left behind by people who do boring and/or irritating things for most of the hours and days of their lives. I felt great pity for us all. Cubicle dwellers are the modern equivalent of the millworkers who sweated their lives away for peanuts a hundred years ago.

I’ll never understand how they stand it. I’ll never understand why they don’t rebel, like the more educated portion of the people of Iran are doing now. Working Americans live in “the richest country on earth” (as our media propagandizers never tire of telling us), and these same workers watch on their TVs every night those Americans not incarcerated like them fling money around like water for fun, and destroy peoples’ lives in the process. They accept it all.

I guess the Poor have always done this. My fellow Poor, modern American variety, are kind and friendly to each other as they serve out their life sentences in their little gray cubicles. Maybe they make a statement of a kind by doing that.

But I think it’s more likely that “the most social animals on earth” (as I have heard humans called), simply accept whatever pecking order they live in as natural, without ever thinking about it. They only rebel when society become so oppressive that they can’t kid themselves any more that its structure is fair.”

On Saturday, I Think I Know

How They Stand It:

1. Most go home to families, unlike me, and forget the day’s work as soon as they enter their front doors. During the day, when they’re stuck at work, the knowledge that they have no choice but to go on enduring the boredom and irritation if they and their loved ones are to survive economically keeps them numbed.

2. Many never saw any other way of life growing up, so they never question their working conditions at all.

3. A lot never question the standard American ideology: The USA is “The Greatest Country on Earth.” And we alone have “Freedom”, and “the American Dream.” Moreover, the USA is totally a meritocracy, so we all have the “Opportunity to Get Ahead” and realize that dream.

a. So those whose jobs offer good prospects of advancement know that they are on the right track in doing their boring work, and they buckle down!

b. Ditto those whose bosses have DECEIVED them into thinking that their jobs have good prospects of advancement.

c. And the rest have to conclude, if they’re still sitting in little cells shuffling papers, then it must be their own fault, and they should just shut up and endure it.

4. Some like the work! (I even like a small part of mine.)

5. Some are not smart enough to do any better-paid work, and they know it.

6. A lot know that they are smarter than their work, but also know that for various other, apparently-unchangeable reasons they CAN’T do any better-paid work.

a. Of these, a minority (unlike me) are temperamentally able to accept and live with perpetual boredom and wasted brain power in return for economic survival.

b. And the rest aren’t, so they suffer each and every day of their working lives.

7. And some, of course, are simply people born with a sunny temperament who are not bothered by much of anything.

My personal problem is that I belong in the 6b group.

The problem of America, IMHO, lies in groups 2 and 3. In their thoroughly-propagandized heads, they are still living under the ancient “root hog or die” economic regime that now prevails only in underdeveloped countries.

These group 2 and 3 folks, who I think make up the majority of us, do as they’ve been taught to do in order to live in a world of perpetual scarcity. They ignore the vast sums generated by this society and then squandered on unneeded military junk, and they also dutifully refrain from envying or coveting the vast wealth of their betters.

No “spread the wealth” for them!

So, for a lot of us, no hope of escape from drudgery either.


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4 responses

22 06 2009
bruthersgizzer

Great post! You’re right maybe some people just don’t question it. And I get the same feeling every night and morning when i walk into the pencil hut. Basically they got us by the balls, knowing we need to survive economically as you put it. Me and mah bruther like to call it, “danglin’ the carrot.” Like hey pencil pusher #1, can you stay late today? (then they give you them eyes like you better stay late pencil pusher otherwise we throw you in the trash and you ain’t gonna be able to eat or pay your bills and your family gonna be out in the street) and then you say uhh YES YES YES YES SIR To make it worse, the pencil pusher managers dangle the hopes of finding success and wealth one day by driving to work in BMW SUV’s and wearing fancy clothes. Saying looky here you could be fancy too one day. But like you I see right through it too fella, I see the misery and emptiness in their eyes. And I don’t want no part of it, no sirree!

23 06 2009
javajune

Oh I so hear your words and feel your pain. I have been one of the cubicle dwellers and like you it drove me mad. I think all of your observations are dead on and it is sad. I think we have become a society that expects misery just to get by or make ends meet. We all (me included) are so materialistic and need that steady income to survive or live the way we want to.
I quit my miserable job because of a boss who went mad. This finally forced me to pack my stuff and get the hell out. I was lucky because my income was only a small fraction of our household income. I’m trying to make it outside the cubicle world but I’m sad to say that I haven’t been successful as of yet. It scares me. I’m not sure how to market myself. Here I go off the subject.

This was a great post. I wish I had the answer because I don’t want to go back there, never, never, never! If you had all the money you needed and could do what ever you wanted what would it be?

xo-jj

25 06 2009
Carole

Nightman, I think there are many many more reasons why we all choose to do the things that we do…
I don’t believe we can be deceived, unless “we” allow it….
It is true that there are many things that we cannot change, but our own attitude is one that we can.
Through outlets like your blog and many others, we can expose ourselves to other ways of thinking and trying to improve the world we live in…

26 06 2009
nightman1

Thank you for commenting!

I know lots of people like their jobs and so are able to put up with oppressive surroundings for the sake of them. And I also know that lots of people are easy-going and not likely to find their surroundings oppressive in the first place.

I even know that it is possible to make the best of a bad situation by adjusting your attitude toward it. That has never been something I could do easily, however.

Anyway, one of the purpose of this blog is to highlight the many facts that show that the rich have gotten richer and the poor and middle class poorer over the last 30 years, and the many ways that the rich and powerful have felt increasingly free to make life miserable for their employees over that same period. The creation of cubicle land is one example of that, and I know it causes lots of people real suffering because I can see that suffering in the faces of many of my co-workers every day.

There is a set of easy-to-understand statistics that describe the great generational shift in the balance of economic power that I am referring to. I haven’t written about those statistics yet, and in their absence I guess any reader is justified in asking, “Why’s this guy complaining all the time?”

I’ve been remiss in not writing about those necessary statistics. Frankly, it depresses and angers me so much just to read them that it is very hard for me to write about them.

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