Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Office Life

Adjusting to life in cubicleville is proving a tad bit difficult. It's mostly culture shock - I've spent a good number of years having total mobility and flexibility of location and schedule. Now suddenly, I'm chained to my phone with the three-foot cable of my headset. Confined to the two walls and 20 square feet of my cubicle. All that's missing is the dumb pointy-haired boss.

Thank the Lord there's none of those here (my numerous bosses are neither dumb nor pointy-haired (and I'm not just saying that because this is a public forum (do you like my usage of nested parentheses? (I learned how to do this when I was a computer programmer (you also do it in algebra))))).

Office life in general is more difficult than other employment surroundings I've experienced. A trip to the bathroom (which thankfully frees you from the cubicle for a minute or two) becomes an exercise in how many different ways you can say "hi" to - or make small talk with - a guy throughout the day. Yes, there are 90 or 100 of us, but there seems to be a biological "schedule of need" (to put it politely), and so you tend to see the same guys on your visits.

At least the inertia of walking with a purpose keeps those conversations somewhat short. The difficult times are when you're a captive audience, trapped in your cubicle like a cornered animal.

Then there are the ocassional flurries of comedic quotes that grow old quickly. Steven Wright is the quintessential one-liner guy who people love to repeat. To death.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, or if you really feel the need to join in to one of these conversations and have no participatory ammunition, here are some of my favorites:

- Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.

- I was arrested for selling illegal-sized paper.

- It doesn't matter what temperature the room is, it's always room temperature.

- He asked me if I knew what time it was. I said, "Yes, but not right now."

- My girlfriend asked me how long I was going to be gone on this tour. I said, "the whole time."

- I hate it when my foot falls asleep during the day because that means it's going to be up all night.

- I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at any time." So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.

- I have the oldest typewriter in the world. It types in pencil.

- If you can't hear me, it's because I'm in parentheses.

- When I die, I'm leaving my body to science fiction.

- Last week the candle factory burned down. Everyone just stood around and sang Happy Birthday.

- In my house on the ceilings I have paintings of the rooms above... So I never have to go upstairs.

- I'm writing an unauthorized autobiography.

So those are my favorites. At least, they WERE my favorites the first twelve times I heard them. Now, they're more like sharp stabby things with which a child might poke his little sister.

(But sometimes even THAT can seem funny... if you're the kid doing the poking.)

So what is going on in my brain besides that? There is a dull ache in my heart that longs to teach again. But I know it's going to be a very long time before that opportunity arises, if it ever does. I often wonder if I'm already teaching my final study:

I used to dream about teaching at the Calvary Chapel Bible College. Today, I happened to get a customer that works there. It was a poignant reminder that many dreams can be put permanently out of reach by bad choices.

So in the meantime, I'm guessing I'm going to have to learn what Paul somehow figured out:

"Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:11-13