I have some cubicle neighbors. To my left is a woman I’ve spotted once or twice. She’s super-quiet and moves like a snake slithering through sand. Honestly, she makes me incredibly paranoid about my own noisemaking activities (like typing, or breathing). I never hear her, which is weird, because the whole floor is like a library. I ought to hear her burp or sigh once in a while. Not like my neighbor on the other side, whom I like to call “Sneezy.” Sneezy had a cold this week, which I can empathize with, but I was so grateful, because her hacking and coughing covered up all of my boisterous activities (honestly, there’s got to be a quieter way to click a mouse button).
I’ve learned the importance of quiet food. On my first day, I bought a bag of chips from the vending machine. When I opened the bag, it sounded like a shuttle was launching from my cubicle. My neighbor, the silent wraith, quietly rose, glared at me with murderous intent, and slunk off to the bathroom until I was finished with my snack. Never again. I stopped at the grocery store after work to find some more restrained munchies.
I quickly realized that a lot of quiet food was also healthy. Score! Maybe I could lose a few pounds while being respectful of my neighbors. Bananas, grapes, marshmallows (hey, they're low calorie) . . . all silent snacks. I embarked on my new, healthier lifestyle the next day. I felt smug. Truman seemed to approve. All was well until lunchtime. Guess what? Salad is decidedly NOT quiet. The wraith drew a silent slice across her neck after my first bite. Plus, by 2 p.m., I was so hungry I was licking what I thought was a chocolate stain off of my lunch bag. (It turned out to be soy sauce. I didnt care.) I gave up my diet and contributed to the Pop Tart™ fund. It turns out Pop Tarts™ are very quiet, so everyone was happy.
Phone etiquette is pretty important, too. My new company apparently has no problem with making personal phone calls during the day, as long as you get your work done. I found this out by eavesdropping on everyone else’s (hey, it’s like a tomb in that office. I can’t impress enough upon you how deathly silent it is.) The woman three cubicles down had problems on Tuesday because the school nurse called to say her kid was sick. The Wraith is having an issue with her satellite dish company; Sneezy’s doctor won’t call in a prescription unless she goes in to see the nurse. Feeling emboldened, I called Jason from my desk phone.
“Hey, what’s up?” he asked.
“Nothing,” I admitted.
“Why’re you calling during the work day? Is something wrong?”
“I just wanted to talk to someone,” I said. “Never mind. Truman’s staring at me; I gotta go.”
The office cubicle: it can be a lonely place.