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17 February 2004 @ 09:58 pm
How to Be a Corporate Drone - Interior Decoration  
Nobody sets out to be a corporate drone. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says to themselves, "Yes, today is the day that I surrender my freedom for the illusion of freedom"1

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.
Hoc Est Qui Sumusdiscoflamingo on February 17th, 2004 07:58 pm (UTC)
Truth be told, I can't really explain why I wrote this. Maybe my academic heart is pleading with my cold, corporate whore exterior to bend to the will of what is good and right? Who's to say? Well, you, if you choose to say anything.
A Carnot engine of self-loathingcalypsomatic on February 17th, 2004 08:30 pm (UTC)
Whatever. One thing I've learned from not going to college, not having an active social life, or ever interacting with my peers and having things expected of me, is that it really doesn't matter. The rejection of schmaltzy crap and other shit that other people do because other people do it is just as mindless as getting it because other people do. It really doesn't matter if you dress differently, or are different. The only reason not to buy brand name clothes would be to not support big companies, if you like the look and they're comfortable. You can't look at a group of people, find problems with them, and reject everything they do and say and are. That's senseless and without thought. If you like this shit in your cubicle, then it doesn't matter if it's schmaltzy or not. Reject the mindlessness of the people, not the mindless things they put around themselves. I certainly wish I had more shit around my cubicle to look at to help me make it through the day. The Man is only the Man because he tramples on others, doesn't know it, and doesn't care. You are not your fucking khakis, nor are you your fucking schmaltzy cubicle crap.
ninja in the shadows: coatseiryu_16 on February 17th, 2004 10:27 pm (UTC)
Poor Psyduck, with the no eyeballs. I remember a brief period of my life when I was dubbing people after Pokémon. I was Charizard (you know, big fucking orange dragony firebreaking one), Josiah was Hitmonchan (because it's a fighting Pokémon, and I was sooooo damn original... heh). Poor Maurielle got to be Psyduck. She REALLY didn't like that. I was all "but look at him! He's all crazy and psychic! And a duck!" That was my argument in its entirety, really.

But yeah. Word up to your crazy cubicle crap. I don't think it's "becoming the Man," it's making the space more your own. It's a human instinct.