I’ve worked in cubicle farms of one sort or another for well over 15 years now. (I don’t want to figure it any more finely than that, for fear I will start crying and never stop.) For me, it was always hard to find some level upon which I could relate to my coworkers. I always had a hard time feeling like I belonged to the group… or feeling like they were anything like the person I thought I was.
Don’t get me wrong, I was plenty friendly for the most part. Generally an outgoing person, I still always had a part of me that was holding back. So I observed a lot. I saw the people who were always way too happy, the ones who seemed to have a bit of a sharp edge to their anger, the ones who seemed downright creepy, and so on.
And I have to admit I always felt so very apart from them. I worked with them just fine, unless they were out and out horrible people. (But let’s face it, those types usually get “filtered out” before too long.) I guess I felt this way because of the way I was brought up…
My mother brought me up to believe that I was a perfect little gem, and I could be or do anything I wanted in life. At this point, oddly enough, I’ve come full circle from believing she was right, to believing she was completely wrong and I was a total loser, to more lately beginning to think she was at least right in that I can do whatever I want in life. Don’t get me wrong, she was not perfect, and I got some bad habits from her as well.
My father brought me up with more of an antisocial bent. It would only be far into my adulthood that I would realize that he was wrong, and really, it was the alcoholism talking. It was he who led me to believe that I should never ask anyone for help of any kind. Partly because you end up obligated to those people. Don’t get me wrong, although he was far from perfect, I got some good habits from him as well.
So I’m this Gemini who is flip-flopping between an isolationist who just wants to be alone all day and a performer-wanna-be who is totally outgoing and wants to be friends with, and please, everyone he meets. No, that’s not confusing at all!
So, then I get a job in a cubicle farm. First of many. Oh boy. How is this going to play out? Well, it wasn’t always pretty and there were plenty of awkward moments. But I made friends, generally, and I made a few lame enemies. Oh well.
And then one day, when my mind was flitting through a creative neuron storm, I blurted out something that changed everything for me. It was like a magic incantation! Suddenly, all these people made sense in my world. They fit in with me, like a puzzle.
I had referred to myself as “Slacker Spice”. And in a lightning flash, the faces of my coworkers flew through my head and each was accompanied by their own ‘Spice’ names! It was awesome! Suddenly, we were all the same, and yet uniquely different!
It was like a beautiful, fabulous name game that has stayed with me to this day. No, it didn’t earn me raises, it didn’t make the work any easier, and it didn’t make my pain-in-the-ass supervisor disappear… but it turned her into “PITA Spice”! I never used it to disrespect anyone, and I never shared the names except with people I could trust, and who would enjoy the game with me.
Suddenly, I was surrounded by the Spice Clan… Smiley Spice, Happy Spice, Gloomy Spice, Dork Spice, and so on. Sometimes it was as simple or as lame as Payables Spice. BUT! It always worked! And this is what happened…
Even on a crappy day, in the middle of a ‘fire drill’, or buried in month end reporting agony, there was that tribe, or clan, or posse in my head. And I could muster a heart warming smile in the midst of it all, thinking about Leader Spice, or Slutty Spice, or even myself, Slacker Spice. It took the dark, gloomy, serious cloud of the Cubicle Farm and turned it into cotton candy.
Bonus: It doesn’t have to be a Spice clan… I’ve been a part of Smurf clans (Slacker Smurf) as well. Get creative, push back the dark clouds, and breathe.
Thanks so much for being here and reading this post. Now take a deep breath, and let me know how you liked it, and what kind of posse you work with. Please, I invite your comments.
Have an awesome day!