Due to the recent recession, I have been reluctantly restructured at work. Education was supposed to be solid, and for-profit was supposed to be secure for a while too, because we had a multi-billion dollar organization backing us up. Then, some people in another state made up a random number that 35 other people were supposed to hit, so...student services got cut and people who make nothing either got canned or asked to do twice as much for no more money. No, really, it's cute. Fortunately, I was one of the "lucky" ones who got to take with them part of the job that is a waste of my talent, and pick up the pieces of a job that had just been recently refilled because the last person just couldn't stand the job anymore. We lucky few.
Along with people telling me to smile all the time (I will do my job, but I will smile only when I'm leaving for the night), I also get a brand new fancy location as head cubicle monkey in the cubicle zoo. The three most noticable features of this new location are within 10 feet of me: the copier, the bathroom, and the mailboxes.
Now, the question is, which do I hate being near the most? There are pros and cons to each I suppose.
Copier: Pro- I can make copies without having to travel far. Con- I am the closest person when it's broken.
Bathroom: Pro- Again, proximity- no lengthy walk to the bathroom and I have a tiny bladder. Con- I am ten feet away from where a lot of disgusting people poop. If it were a public bathroom I would be 5 stalls down.
Mailboxes: Pro- You guessed it. How close! Considering I have to put the mail in the mailboxes, it's good I can do it while near my desk. Con- I don't get to get away from my desk even to do the mail.
Copier: Pro- this is kind of where we tap out at Pros. I don't really make copies very often-we have a copy center for bulk orders, which is all I do. The kids are not the smartest-we need lots of tutor request forms. Oh and they don't show up, so we need a lot of timesheets, with carbon copies to keep track of how much effort is wasted. Con- I'm near something I don't really need that much and yet I'm responsible for it.
Bathroom: Pro- I DO use the bathroom. It's not virtually useless like the copier. Con- a lot of people use that bathroom because the nearest one is used by students as well. And they're crawling with disease. Although they do write immature things on the walls that still amuse me. If that happened in our bathroom, everyone would know it was me. Con.
Mailboxes: Pro- It's um, well, there's...and you can't leave out... Con- the only mail I get, gets taken out of an envelope, and forwarded to the chairs. It could have been sorted before mailing. I don't get mail :( Saaaad.
Copier: No wait! I forgot a Pro! The copier is a fax machine as well! Con-I don't use that fax machine, I use the one in the back that people don't mess up.
Bathroom: Pro- I overhear people talking on the phone in "private." It's good for gossip and my favorite hobby...judging. Con- if I can hear phone conversations, think of the symphony I have to hear. Mostly butt-trumpet.
Mailboxes: Con- I have to deal with mail. I did that as an intern. When I was 21. Lame. They used to call me "intern" then. People don't know my name now either, and I've been there for 2 years. In 3 offices. And "What's your name again?" followed by "Great, anyways..." is not as cool as being called "intern." Con.
Copier: Con- even though I don't use it as a fax machine, I still have to remind people that they have to dial 9 to fax something. And then while they continue to have trouble, I hear them talking to themselves about how on the other machine that she uses, she doesn't have to dial 9. I didn't invent having to dial 9. I don't care what the other machine does. I don't care what this machine does. And I didn't call you senile, which you are and you're getting defensive. Oh, and talking to yourself. And by the way, you're welcome.
Bathroom: Con- Other people may not be as paranoid as me, but I don't like the fact that facilities probably thinks there's something wrong with me or that I make poo the size of an anaconda. For 2 years, I have always been near the bathrooms, and as the admin, I have to be the one to tell someone when something that looks like an arm is stuck in the toilet or when it looks like a pool when you take the cover off after the winter, and the cover leaked, and there's a dead squirrel in it. The pool, not the toilet. People don't know who I am. I am probably known as the guy who always breaks the toilets.
Mailboxes: Con- People congregate around the mailboxes. Boring people. And they talk to each other. I'm not in on the conversation, nor would I want to be. So...shut up and go away.
Copier: Con- People do not know how to use a copy machine. What happened to this? I don't know. What do I press to make it go back? I dunno? Clear? How do I do this? It's not working! You have to put it in the top right! It's jammed! Oh no! I didn't tell you to put it in the paper tray. And it's probably a stupid script you wrote. Pro- I know a LOT about copiers now, from when it has given me trouble. I can get a paper jam out of any part. I can figure out what the problem is 90 percent of the time. No one knows this about me. Who's the pro?
Bathroom: Pro- I get to give judgmental looks to people as they walk into the bathroom, for doing something that we all, by necessity, must do. On the way out, I get to look at them as if to say "That was too long to be number 1." Con- if I do use that bathroom, and someone is waiting for me at my desk, I essentially burst onto the scene and the awkwardness is reversed.
Mailboxes: Con- Do you know where my teacher's mailbox is? What's his or her name? I dunno. What does he or she teach? I dunno. Is it he or she? I dunno. Really?
Copier: Pro- Since I don't know anything about fixing the copier (wink!), the mailroom has to fix it. Their number is on the wall behind the copier. Con-who do you think has to make that call?
Bathroom: Pro- There is also the game I pretend to play with certain people, that I am tallying and keeping track of everyone's bathroom transactions.
Mailboxes: Con- There are very close mailboxes to my desk. As in my elbow could hit them. So people feel the need to strike up a conversation while they write on interoffice envelopes. Um, hi, I don't care. At least with the copier, when I ignore people, they might think I can't hear over the noise.
Copier: Pro- I have a dream of being overly helpful when the copier is giving people trouble. In this dream, I also pretend I'm in a wheelchair. As I try to back out of my cubicle, and say "Just a minute" and crash into the back wall, and then say "I'm coming!" and knock over my lamp, and reassure them "Be right there!" and run over a tack, they will feel stupid. I mean- isn't making someone stop what they're doing because you don't know how to use a machine that he does, even though you have been working since he was a small child, just as bad as making someone in a wheelchair rush to help, with something so stupid? The answer is...no, but I want to make people feel awkward and wheelchairs of good for that.
The clear winner at losing here is: Mailboxes. Sure, the toilet runs, and there's a frequent smell, and the other day, either a staff or faculty member didn't flush after leaving a nutty, gray-brown dook, and sure the copier is loud, and always breaking down, and the paper needs to be filled, and no one knows how to use it. But the mailboxes force me to talk to people. And help. And pretend to care.
The lesson is, that the people around me are worse than noise and poop.