The Chronicles of a Witty Observer

The View from the Cubicle: Part II (The Pre-Lunch Slump)

The morning is a busy, yet somewhat solemn time in The Corp’s HR Wing.

Energy is naturally low, though this doesn’t hinder most of the employees from doing their job. But there is an almost depressing tone to the atmosphere. The day is long, and it has barely begun.

After that first hour where little is going on, output slowly slopes to a morning climax by about 10:30. During these hours the only social interaction goes on between some of those who rank above us proletariat cubicle-hermits, like the heads of the departments, who will sneak into each other’s private offices to gossip and sample each other’s candy dishes in a way similar to kids sneaking into each other’s bedrooms after their parents go to sleep to listen to the radio and watch TV (I never did this, I promise).

Speaking of, you can always tell what kind of executive you’re dealing with simply by looking in their candy dish. A pretty porcelain bowl holding hard candies probably belongs to a woman, older, kindly but serious. A plainer bowl with lemonheads or fireballs will inevitably be a male’s, probably younger and ‘hip’, or if it is a female executive’s, she will be pretty lax. Fun-sized brand-name candy bars mean the executive is also relatively easygoing, but will mean business when something serious comes up. Lack of a candy dish means the executive is either very stern, or very skinny.

You can also tell who’s been working at The Corp longer by what they wear as they walk around throughout the day. Men pretty much dress all the same: slacks (either khaki or black), business shoes, and dress shirts (white or blue, with a few exceptions), and whether or not they wear a tie is a 50-50 event for the day. Those who wear ties more often than not are more likely to be veterans of The Corp.

Young women wear grays, neutral tones, and blacks, usually with black slacks more often than skirts. The older the woman gets, the more colorful her shirts get without losing the professional edge. Lots of floral and paisley prints can be seen on the matronly women in each department. I suppose this is what is referred to as ‘corporate casual’ but I can hardly take a woman seriously if her shirt looks like it would have a 3D image pop out if I crossed my eyes.

Yet this would be the mark of a woman who has been with the company a long time and feels comfortable flaunting her rather unfortunate fashion choices. She is to be respected.

As lunch hour draws nearer, time slows. Workloads decrease slightly. The prospect of the half-way point of the day gets exciting. Motivation drops and more social conversations erupt throughout the room. Notably, the executives retreat to their own desks and begin making phone calls or doing their own business. Most have the later lunch hour of 1-2PM, so they aren’t as chatting now as the rest of us worker-bees.

It’s almost as if the employees are just waking up mentally, and the energy increases in the room. This isn’t to say most don’t like working, and most have had a 15-minute break in the hour between 10-11AM. More and more of the lower-ranked employees choose this time to file, as they are finally motivated to get onto their feet.

The dynamics in the wing are much different than two hours ago. It’s as if the day begins here at 11AM. Ironic how the time of day that promises a rest from work gets people willing to work, as well as spreads the energy that motivates the tired to wake up and work.

Maybe it’s just one of the great mysteries of life.


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