Writer’s Block: Cubicle games

The other day while sitting in my cubicle, a certain odor washed over my area. Didn’t know what it was, but let’s just say I had a rather odd reaction.

Elyse Kaner
Elyse Kaner

After a long and uncomfortable two hours I finally asked, “Did they spray in here?” Something was making me crazy.

One of my co-workers figured it out.“It’s my lilacs,” she said.

She quickly gathered them up and kindly whisked them out the door.

It’s difficult to explain reactions. Some call them allergies. Others look at you as if you’re nuts.

I once read a book by a woman who got so tired of people asking her what happened when she experienced an allergic reaction, she resorted to answering, “I turn into a serial killer.”

Luckily, my fellow workers get it. Recently, while reading a local paper, I found tips on how to respond kindly when faced with a less than desirable cubicle conundrum.

In answer, I have taken the time to write down my own version.

Following are tips to survive a successful stay in your cramped cubicle.

• When overhearing a sad conversation, always join in. Shout with enthusiasm that you too have felt their pain. Especially the time when grandpa Geezer broke his leg on the back forty, so we had to shoot him.

• When someone is yakking loudly on the phone, pick up your phone and talk louder to drown out the cacophonous blathering. Never mind that nobody is on the other end. Make up a conversation. Your 90-year-old Aunt Lily, for example, has run off with Ralph the plumber, a mere sardine of a guy, after a particularly torrid affair.

• If someone is tapping their nails or pounding particularly hard on the computer keyboard, drag a popcorn machine into your stall and pop some popcorn.

• For those who break out the Limburger during lunchtime, don’t throw away those old, unwashed sweaty socks. They come in handy for such a situation. Particularly fragrant. Probably better smelling than the cheese. People will thank you for casting a pall of putrid relief over the entire room. There’s nothing like sharing.

• For those cubicle-ites who don’t see a human face from the time they walk into work in the morning until quitting time, stand on your desk and peer over the drab partition. People pop-ups. Nothing like ’em. You’ll surprise the person on the other side of your cell. More likely, you’ll probably surprise yourself for having enough oomph to jump up on the desk. As an aside, I did read a story once about a guy who died in his cubicle and no one knew he was there for days. Obviously, he was a rather quiet soul with few friends.

• After several hours of presuming pretzel posture in your pretzel chair, get down on the floor on all fours. (Watch out though. Don’t clobber your noggin on a drawer.) Do a downward dog yoga pose. Just make sure you’re facing outward in case some poor soul happens by and otherwise would glimpse your best side.

• If someone is listening to loud music spilling over on his iPod, burst into a full-voiced chorus of “It Ain’t Necessarily So” or some atrocious ditty. Sing out. Fortissimo. Makes you feel better. Fellow workers will be astonished at the latent talent you’ve been withholding from them. They’ll beg for more.

• After staring at your computer for hours, hum a chorus of “Look Away, Dixie Land.” Then look away. But don’t look away too long. You might miss that all important e-mail from Nigeria begging you for money and for your Social Security number.

• When it gets to be all too much, go for a biffy break. Actually, you’re heading into another cubicle, of sorts. But this one offers more of a respite. Close the door. Sit down. Lift your feet about a foot or so off the ground. No one will know you’re there for hours. But don’t wait so long that the office sends out a search party looking for you.

If they find you, similar to the Flying Dutchman, you could be banished to Cubicle Land where you will forever remain and go bonkers in a rackety, odiferous cubicle.