With graduation season upon us, I would like to give some advice to all those excited seniors graduating from college this spring. So to the class of 2012, I give you this advice:
DON’T GRADUATE! STAY IN SCHOOL!
Call your advisor now and tell him or her that you can’t graduate because you forgot to minor in Ethiopian dance or something like that. I know you think finals are difficult, time-consuming and stressful, but do you want to know what’s worse? REAL LIFE. College is nothing compared to working and being an “adult.” Believe me. And unless you were fortunate enough to get your college paid for by your parents or a scholarship, you’ll be responsible for all of the loans you used to pay for that fine education. Student loan companies are like a psycho ex…only you can’t file a restraining order against them and they don’t stop until they’ve ruined you.
After graduation comes employment. And unless nepotism hands you your “dream job” right out of college, you’ll be stuck with two choices: 1) An office job where you’ll develop an unhealthy relationship with inanimate objects like staplers and Post-it notes AND you’ll learn more about copy machines than you’ve ever wanted to know. OR 2) Grad school. A place where you can hide from what I like to refer to as the Cube Jungle (office life) while adding to your undergraduate debt that you can only hope to later stack onto someone else through marriage. I know this is harsh since everyone’s been telling you that you can do anything you want to with a 4-year college degree, but you can’t. So before you march down in a polyester gown to pick up your diploma, stop and do the right thing. Drive your car over to the nearest community college and enroll in their dental hygiene program. It’s a far more logical path than trying to use that humanities degree. At least with dental hygiene you can finish studying in less than 2 years, you are guaranteed a decent salary right out of school and you get to wear pajamas all day. I also highly recommend that you all familiarize yourselves with the term forbearance. If you’re anything like me, it’ll become your best friend after college. Congratulations!
The reality of the Cube Jungle
What really happens in and around those padded paneled walls.
I’ve worked many different office jobs over the past nine years; however, that was never my dream. As a little girl I never thought to myself, “When I grow up I want to spend each day sitting at a desk where I can eat frozen lunches and get carpal tunnel by the age of 32.” When I graduated from the University of Wisconsin River Falls in 2003, I had dreams of becoming a freelance writer/part-time ankle model (it’s really the thinnest/fiercest part of my body), but soon after graduation, reality sank in. I realized that freelance writing/ankle model professions were few and far between and didn’t offer a medical/dental package or a steady paycheck. Almost immediately after excitedly tossing my graduation cap in the air with what I believed to be the world at my fingertips, I reluctantly settled into an office job in a Cube Jungle.
Every Cube Jungle I’ve ever worked in has had lackluster decor. Despite colors like orange and red which are said to create inspiration and excitement, most offices are drab in color. They tend to be many shades of brown and gray, which I believe are the universal colors for apathy and boredom. And any “art” displayed on the walls can best be described as a Big Lots bargain bin find. I imagine that most corporate interior designers go into each office decorating project thinking, “How can I make this space have all the feel of a doctor’s office without the smell of latex?” Their idea of Feng Shui seems to be uniformed plants and a water cooler in every corner because we all know that dehydration leads to a thirst for stealing office supplies. However, after working for only a short period I realized that the real color in every office derives from its employees. The best part of every Cube Jungle is its diverse cast of crazy characters. Some of which, you may know…
- Every office has the co-worker who is fanatical about his or her pet(s). Whether it is a dog, cat, iguana or ferret, he or she takes every opportunity to discuss with you what the pet has been up to. Like a proud parent, I had a coworker named Barb stand before me and explain (in great length) how Abby, her new Springer Spaniel (who also just happened to be in 17 framed photos on her desk), had graduated from puppy pads to the carpet and how she just loved the taste of Pine-Sol. And despite the veterinarian’s insistence that drinking floor cleaner would seriously harm the dog, Barb didn’t see how a “little bump of Pine-Sol” could hurt. “It makes her so happy. She told me so,” Barb declared loudly without a hint of shame or humor. Recently I was also cornered by a coworker who wanted to show me “a few pics” of her dogs. She has five. Reluctantly I agreed and quickly “a few pictures” turned into 182 as she slowly scrolled through her digital camera, stopping to explain to me what the dogs were doing in every single picture. “Oh that’s Dottie. She’s sitting on the couch. My husband doesn’t like when she sits on the couch, but he wasn’t home so I let her. And right next to her is Coco. Coco and Dottie sleep in the bed with me. They take up almost the entire queen size bed. So now my husband sleeps in the living room,” she explained. “Yes, Great Danes will do that,” I replied.
- The coworker who doesn’t pause or even breathe in between sentences. He or she monopolizes conversations and tends to share a little too much. I once had a coworker share with me how she and her husband spent quality time together. “We make sure to take a bath together every night.” I tried to think of anything else while she continued talking about their baths and the monogrammed loofahs they used to clean one another. “Think about baseball. Think about baseball,” I thought as she continued. I figured if it works for men, why not me. And sure enough, it worked. I didn’t puke.
- The coworker who doesn’t wash his or her hands after leaving the restroom or licks his or her fingertips before handing you documents from the printer. Maybe it’s the OCD in me, but whenever I see this, I want to bath my hands, arms and eyeballs in Purell.
- The coworker who asks what the weather is like every time you return from lunch.”What’s it like out there?” they inquire as if they’ve never been outside before. I like to respond, “It’s the end of times and there are kitties everywhere. Whatever you do, don’t feed them after midnight,” and then run away.
- The coworker who eats your lunch out of the office refrigerator. Sure, that coworker may be me, but I’m not in denial. I can see how this type of behavior would get on a person’s nerves. But seriously, how do you expect a girl to walk away from an untouched Philly cheese steak sandwich? Impossible!
- The coworker who leans over your desk to smell your lunch. I don’t know what it is about the office, but it’s the only place where anyone will lean over your pre-packaged, processed frozen meal and say, “That smells delicious.”
- The coworker who loudly announces your arrival when you’re late for work. “Thanks for finally joining us,” he or she says after you’ve successfully sat at your desk and arranged your computer and paperwork to appear as if you’ve been there for hours.
- The coworker who always wants to talk about Dancing with the Stars. Even though you tell her everyday that you don’t watch that show. In my case, her name is Stephanie. While I appreciate Stephanie’s extensive knowledge of each DWTS cast member, when I asked her who the vice president was, she just looked at me confused and said, “I’m pretty sure it’s that one guy who can’t spell potato and shot his friend in the face while hunting.” Close enough, Steph.
- The coworker who walks over to your desk to ask if you’ve responded to an email he or she sent 30 seconds prior. My favorite response to this coworker is, “Sorry, I’ve haven’t had time yet because I’ve been really busy obsessively counting my arm hair and fantasizing about your retirement.”
- The coworker who enjoys walking around the office announcing how busy he or she is. Okay Carl. You win! You are the hardest worker. Now keep it down, I’m trying to watch episodes of 30 Rock on Hulu over here.
- The half flusher. There’s always a coworker who has yet to master the art of fully flushing the restroom toilet. I imagine these are the same people who weren’t hugged enough as children.
- The coworker who’s always planning a potluck. I don’t like potlucks because A) Your clothes are always covered in cat hair so I assume your pasta salad is too and B) Because I got yelled at when I brought the plate of brownies back to my desk during the last potluck.
- The coworker who takes casual Friday a little too casually. Who wears short shorts? Apparently Russell in accounting does.
A sincere congratulation to all of the 2012 graduates and we’ll see most of you in the Cube Jungle very soon.
Joleen will be performing standup comedy this Mother’s Day at the Comedy Spot in Old Town Scottsdale at 7 pm. Get your tickets at http://thecomedyspot.net today!