Thursday, July 5, 2007

Cubicle Wars, Part 1

Dear Diary,

The lines are being drawn at the office. It all began when the 3-hole punch at the other end of the office went missing; the one at Charisse's cubicle (personally, I think Derek took it home). There is only one other 3-hole punch at our firm, and since I'm the only other person who uses a punch on a daily basis, this second unit is kept at my desk. If someone uses this punch, they have to bring it back to my cubicle within three minutes. That's my rule. I don't want to have to look for my 3-hole punch when I need it most. As soon as someone asks to borrow it, I place one hand on the punch and use the other to set the stopwatch on my Timex. I then yell, "Go!", press start on the stopwatch and lift my hand off the punch. As my colleague rushes to their own cubicle to punch holes, I yell out the remaining time at five-second intervals. It's very effective, especially since I've posted a "black-balled" list of those who have gone over the three-minute limit. Charisse should have taken notes; maybe her punch wouldn't be missing now.

Once the first punch went missing, all eyes turned to me hungrily: I was now the only game in town. Sheila, our boss, refused to let Charisse order another, saying that we already had one in the office and one was all we needed. The missing punch had been left behind by a long-ago employee who had brought it from his own home, and then died in our office after a heart attack (some say he was poisoned), and afterwards, his widow had never bothered to pick his things up. Sheila elaborated that since the office had once made due with only one 3-hole punch, we could do it again. Besides, she added, we use less paper now and we could all learn to share the one remaining. I said fine but added that everybody would have to retain adherence to my three-minute rule. That's when Charisse hit the roof.

Charisse stated that she was not walking from one end of the office to the other just to grab the 3-hole punch and then making a second trip to return it. She wanted the 3-hole punch kept at her cubicle. She added that she had more seniority, having been with our accounting firm for over twelve years, whereas I wasn't even an accountant, did menial work, and had only been with the firm for two weeks. That's when I completely lost it. I screamed that whereas Charisse might have more seniority in general, I had more seniority with this particular 3-hole punch, and it was staying in my cubicle and I didn't want to hear another word.

A few people who sit around me backed me up (they didn't want to walk all the way to stinky Charisse's desk just to grab a 3-hole punch and then make a second trip just to return it). Those who sat closest to Charisse backed her up, including Ruthie, a 93-year-old accountant who's had several hip replacements and smashes into things because she can barely see anymore. In fact, one of her eyes is now completely shut, and sometimes covered with an eyepatch. She also always brags about not only being the first female accountant at our firm, but in the country. She's such a pain. But everyone loves her, even though she makes a dozen accounting mistakes a day, barks orders at everyone and head office has tried to force her into retirement for decades now, but she's so feisty, she keeps outsmarting them and has forced several of our presidents into retirement themselves. She also brings in fresh, homemade, baked goods every day for those who may have missed breakfast. I don't trust her.

There were now two camps of people standing before Sheila, our boss. That's when Derek, some guy I haven't liked since day one and who sits beside me, tried to say something in my defense. I cut him off and told him straight away that I didn't want him on our team, I didn't care where he sat. I pointed at Charisse and told him to join her team. I didn't need to explain myself.

Sheila appealed to me to compromise. Ruthie was older and should not be made to overexert herself just to get a 3-hole punch. That's when I stared at Ruthie and said, "Are you going to take that sitting down? Even though you can barely stand? She's calling you old and decrepit." Ruthie freaked, wagged her index finger all over and really laid into Sheila, calling her a phony and threatening to have her cut from the firm if she ever heard that nonsense and **** from her again. I yelled, "That's right! Stop ageism now! Stop it! For heaven's sake!"

Unfettered, Sheila asked that perhaps the 3-hole punch be kept in the middle of the office, at Don's desk. That way, no one would have to walk across the entire office. I immediately countered that her solution was unacceptable and logically unsound since both myself and Charisse sit at either extremes of the office and would then have to walk further than anyone else. Charisse nodded in agreement. I smiled, and winked at her. Sheila threw her hands up in despair. We were breaking her down. Finally. She turned toward her office and said that she would call head office, and then formulate a solution. I called out that the solution better come quickly since I wasn't moving a muscle until everything was resolved. I then let her know that no one on my team was moving a muscle either, until a decision was reached. In our favor.

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