Coming from my background at an über-liberal liberal arts college, I lived and breathed Hating the Man ™. This had its advantages - like being aware of that whole "wretched consumerism/ capitalist sheep/ baa baa/ Fight Club/ baa baa/ Green Party/ Billionaires for Bush or Gore/ You are not your fucking khakis/ there are bigger problems out there than your own" deal, which I am almost entirely down with. It also has its disadvantages - like the perpetuation of self-victimization behavior, the commoditization of protest and anti-establishment rhetoric, and the dilution of genuine free thought - but most institutions of higher learning are like that.
Then I graduated from college, and I became the Man. And in many ways, the Man doesn't have it so bad - in other ways, my experience at Mac made me more self-aware of the attitudes and beliefs my co-workers and fellow slaves to the Man have developed2. I insisted that I would not develop or nurture these self-destructive beliefs.
In short, I done messed up. I went ahead and decorated my cube with arguably schmaltzy crap - like most corporate drones bent on fulfilling the work of the Man. The following is a list of random crap that I have either purchased specifically for my cubicle at work, or I thought would stand and fight against the mundane and banal nature of office life:
-=+=-I have a red Swingline stapler on my monitor at work. It isn't a dull, burgundy red either - it's firetruck red, the red of men who could "set the building on fire". I think it really sets the rest of
-=+=-I have a FIMO figurine that my brother Pat made - it's an eyeless Psyduck, clutching his head in agony and misery. Psyduck happens to be painted gold. He sits on the right.
-=+=-I also have a little penguin ornament that drowdancer and avatarofchaos got me for X-mas two years ago. "One by one, the penguins steal my sanity . . ." (I thought it was very fitting) I keep the other one next to my monitor at home, so that my sanity has nary a moment's rest. Also, I use the penguin to do execution traces and control flow/data flow analysis on large charts at work. Nobody has yet remarked on it.
-=+=-There is a little button that says "Preliminary operational tests were inconclusive (the damn thing blew up)" [*]. While I got it originally because I was in the verification group, some how I think it still applies.
-=+=-I have my favorite Steven Soderbergh quote taped up next to the button. Nobody has commented yet about the relationship to avionics software, or the commercial aviation industry in general.
I am an amateur anthropologist at best, but I believe that cube decorations fulfill the same function as gargoyles and medicine bags - to ward off both the well-known and the lesser-known (but more greatly-feared) terrors of the daily world; to strengthen and comfort the owner in times of trouble; and finally, to assure the fellow members of your tribe that you belong - that you are not "one of them", but one of "us".
1:This is, of course, not entirely true. There are those people that tell themself this in the morning in whatever tone you would consider Alanis Morrisette's "Ironic", which we all know by now (or should know) - is, well, not. There's also the matter of the merry bushels of cash, but that will make many people do many stupid, stupid things.
2: I am fully aware that I am not the first person to think that I might be an island of difference in a sea of conformity. Sod that.