Cube Etiquette

13 Mar

Like most other Americans working in an office setting, I have sat in a cubicle since starting my post-college professional career almost five years ago. Because I’m pretty good about blocking out noise and looking busy (just kidding), the cube format has never really bothered me.

About a month ago, I got a new job and moved to a different floor in my building. Just to give you a visual, my back faces the cube behind me (although no one sits there right now) and I share a cube wall with the person who sits next to me. I can’t see that person, but I can hear them.

And for the first time, I’ve realized that this means they can probably hear me as well. I don’t know why this fact has never occurred to me before. Maybe, up until this point, I’ve always sat next to really quiet men who either didn’t talk on the phone very often or weren’t at their desks all that much.

Now cruel reality has come crashing down.

I now sit next to a woman who is required to be on the phone for a large part of her day in order to perform her job well. Just as a reminder, all that separates us is a piece of fabric that divides her cube and mine.

Don’t get me wrong — this woman is awesome at what she does and works very, very hard. She’s not even particularly loud, but for some reason, I just have a much harder time blocking her out that anyone I’ve ever sat next to before.

I feel strange when I hear her say things like, “So the doctor said I should be fine. I’m still coughing, and stuff is still coming up, but it’s not as gross as it was last week.”

Or, “Yeah, we went out this weekend and there was this kid at the club who couldn’t have been older than 20. He looked JUST like Justin Bieber. Like, JUST like him!!!! He wanted to party with us but I said, ‘Listen Bieber, it’s wayyyyyy past your bedtime’.” (I heard that story three times which is why I’m using it as an example.)

This has got me thinking about cube etiquette. How loud is too loud? What are you supposed to share with people over the phone if you don’t want your cube mates to hear it? Are you supposed to acknowledge the person on the other side of your cube divider? How much can you acknowledge them – I mean, this IS a place of business, after all. What if I heard her plotting to kill someone? Would I be required to report it to police or would my eavesdropping get me in major trouble? AHHH so many hard questions.


3 Responses to “Cube Etiquette”

  1. Mr. P March 13, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    Does the attached video imply that you are going to enter into a reluctant romance with your cubemate?

    • thisoldlife March 13, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

      Hahaha no no Pete, I only engaged in those types of antics when I sat on the third floor. Things are way more serious up here on 4 🙂


  1. Life Updates « This Old Life - September 28, 2011

    […] The lady I mentioned (see “Cube Etiquette”) complained in a recent meeting that she goes home with a headache everyday because the area around […]

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