The cube world is just like ‘Nam, sort of. Instead of rice paddies and punji pits, cubicle warriors are plagued by mind-numbing small talk and an abundance of dad jeans on casual Friday. It’s a war out there, and if you want to survive, you’ll have to un-learn all that bullshit they taught you in school. Fortunately, your boy is about to hit you with some serious knowledge, so take notes, because if you’re cool, IF you’re cool, you might just make it out in one piece.
ALWAYS Have Headphones and Master Office Headphone Etiquette
Sitting in 5×5 cube with nothing but you and your thoughts can make minutes feel like hours, hours feel like days, and days feel like an eternity. You’ll need something to keep yourself distracted from the ever present clacking of keyboards and your annoying neighbor that hums Disney tunes all day long. A trip to the office without a pair of headphones is like an astronaut heading to the moon without his helmet. Naturally, there might be some problems. Avoid this predicament all together by keeping an extra pair in your desk, that way you’ll have them on you at all times.
When actively choosing to shut yourself off from the world, there is somewhat of a standard operating procedure, an office code of honor if you will, for how you go about tuning out anything or anyone in the office. The process is generally as follows:
No headphones- I hope you like your co-worker’s small talk, because you’re inviting everyone and their brother to actively engage you in meaningless conversation.
One ear bud- Easily the most popular headphone configuration out there. The lone bud says, “I can still hear you and am available in theory, but really I don’t give a shit about what you have to say and I’m actively tuning you out as we speak.” Classic, effective option.
Two ear buds- Anyone sporting this configuration means serious business. May as well have a sign taped to the front of his or her cube that reads “FUCK OFF.” By no means, under any circumstances should you attempt to approach a co-worker rocking two ear buds. Eleven times out of 10 they are having an awful day and are about one idiotic comment away from going off the deep end.
Always Have a Good Podcast Cued and Be on the Lookout For New Ones
So you got the headphones? Great. Now sit back, relax, and cue some of your favorite beats. Don’t get too comfortable though, as Spotify and Pandora will only cut it for about two hours out of your day. Sure you can cue the radio, but I can only listen to SVP and Russillo talk about the NBA so much before I start to lose my mind. Find yourself a couple of good podcasts to listen to. Chances are, many of your favorite websites and television shows have podcasts that contain material very much in line with whatever it is that drew you in from the get go. Even better, most podcasts have hundreds of episodes which should be more than enough to keep you distracted at work for weeks on end. Don’t want to go the podcast route? Try an audio book. I’ve even seen co-workers listen to their favorite movies, you know, in case you’re extra miserable. The bottom line is that you need to vary your listening tastes. 40 hours a week is a lot of digital media.
Live Up to Expectations
I’ll just come right out with this one-no one expects a goddamn thing from a 23-year-old. Sure, you can work yourself to death and kiss your boss’ ass all you want. Chances are it will probably lead you to a connection that will one day get you a great job, but 99% of the time you’re just going to look like some dumb 23 year old that’s trying way too hard. Why? Because you’re a dumb 23 year old that’s trying way too hard. As an entry level employee fresh out of school, the bar is set pretty low-like, “Peter Dinklage doing the limbo” low. You’re not expected to perform like some high level executive, so don’t kill yourself trying to do just that. You’ll only add unnecessary stress and anxiety to a job that probably already has too much of both. Just show up, do what you’re supposed to do and get the fuck out. Not exactly rocket science.
Cherish Your Out of Office Time
Got a half hour for lunch? Take 45. Boss asks you to grab some donuts on the way in? Hit up a donut shop that’s out of the way. Remember, any time spent away from your desk is metaphorical gold in the cube world. Don’t get yourself in trouble though. No one cares about five or ten minutes here or there, but showing up an hour late might make for an awkward social interaction between you and the big boss man.
Don’t Share Social Media With Co-Workers
This one should come off as somewhat of a no-brainer, but apparently some folks just aren’t getting the message. Unless your social media profiles are squeaky clean (which if you’re reading this article, I’d bet my unborn son’s future college fund that they aren’t), then you might be better off keeping your online persona to yourself. The truth is, none of your co-workers really give a fuck about that meme you just posted, but that tweet and accompanying Instagram pic of you annihilated at the strip club might ruffle a few feathers in the workplace. The point is, there is really no benefit to your co-workers knowing your every move outside of the workplace, but there is a definite downside, a downside that could land you in your boss’ office or HR if you’re not careful. Just shut the fuck up and stay out of dodge.
Stay Busy Outside of Work
Glance around your office right now and find the guy or guys that are just miserable beyond belief. Unfortunately, there may more than you care to count. Don’t’ be that guy, even that guy doesn’t want to be that guy. Years of corporate mediocrity have this guy one “Hey Mike, guess what day it is?” joke away from driving his car over bridge on the way in tomorrow. Unless that’s the future you had envisioned for yourself, it is imperative to learn how to separate the work/life balance. Most importantly, don’t take your work home with you. As a matter of fact, try to mail it in as much as humanly possible. When 5 o’clock rolls around, go to happy hours, hit the gym, write shitty articles for this website, just don’t sit at home and sulk about that tough week you’re having or else you’ll turn into that guy that’s been relegated to living vicariously through his daughter’s 3rd grade volleyball team. That’s cool though, I guess?
Develop an Early Escape Plan
What do you do when it’s Friday afternoon, that girl you met last week said she wants to meet for a couple drinks, your bro’s said they’d meet you at the bar at 5, but you’re not supposed to get off work until then. Do you stay until 5 and hope for the best? No, you nerd! Time to get the FUCK out of there. Executing a perfect escape from the workplace requires skill, patience, and a unique knowledge of your surroundings. Did Andy Dufresne escape from Shawshank by just winging it? Fuck no. Dude was cold and calculated, and you should be too. Become an expert at utilizing Microsoft Access as Access offers a couple of cool features that will fine-tune your escape. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Access allows you to view the schedules of your co-workers aka your boss, that way you can know that your boss plans on leaving at 3 pm on Friday-what a coincidence, so are you. In addition, Access offers an auto-send feature for emails that allows you to draft individual emails and have them sent automatically at a time of your choosing. That way while you’re slugging $2 whiskey and cokes at happy hour, your co-workers will still think you’re hard at work when they receive your final weekly report at 4:58 pm. Play your cards right, and all that will stand between you and unbridled freedom is a drainage pipe and 500 meters of shit to crawl through. Not really, though. Just enjoy your weekend.
Good luck, man. Sometimes things can get crazy out there. When they do, just remember what you learned here today and you’ll be just find. Oh, and most importantly, try not to get yourself fired.
Got any more tips? Share with the group. It’s not like your boss is monitoring the comment section right? RIGHT?