Don’t expect to see a farmer in overalls with a piece of straw hanging out of his mouth. No, the cubicle farm is a place of conflicting personalities, water cooler gossip, and infuriatingly empty printer trays and coffee pots. You need to survive the hostile environment of the cubicle farm, and here are some the different “animals” that you’ll find there.
Dirty, uncouth and sensibility-destroying, there is at least one pig in each and every cubicle farm. Their pig-ness can be embodied in various ways: a lingering salacious top-to-toe scan, an all too long hug or, the most wretched of actions, the involuntary backrub. The involuntary backrub is the bane of anyone that demands their personal space and aggressively defends their “bubble”. You sit there, unassuming, doing your work when someone walks up behind you and starts kneading your shoulders like an undersexed baker. Sure, we all need human contact, but seriously, dude, contact someone else! Another type of Cubicle Farm Pigs includes Potty Mouth Pig and, although that sounds like a third tier Barney character, it’s much more abrasive in real life. This is the type of person that takes things way, way too far. This is the person that describes things so explicitly vivid and graphic that they make you recoil in unexpected disgust. No, Jerry, we are not interested in the extent of your foot fetish and which co-worker has the prettiest toes (or what you’ll do to them).
This is the supervisor or manager that pops in to make sure everything is moving along smoothly. While you work through your day with a Zen-like rhythm, the Rooster will pop up (loudly, in most cases, startling you out of a midday daze), derailing any worthy train of thought to ask about the most asinine and irrelevant piece of information that could have easily been Googled. Do not under any circumstances mention that though, because the Rooster will flap its wings, stick out its chest, and assert itself faster than a chicken can find worms (sorry for that metaphor; I have no idea how fast chickens find worms, I just thought I should stay with the barnyard motif). Like a real rooster, the Cubicle Farm Rooster is like clockwork: once you get into a satisfying rhythm, disruption is soon to follow.
This tall, proud stallion bases all its status on its rippling muscles and shinning mane. It displays its dominance over all other lowly, ungainly Cubicle Farm animals and, if you dare question it, you can expect to be kicked, bitten, or both. You’d be stupid to question the Stallion; after all, the boss rides it all the time and once in a while takes it into town to show it off.
The Donkey is the backbone and hardest worker of all the Cubicle Farm animals. No task is too challenging, no request too daunting, no amount of overtime is too much. The Donkey will take it like a champ. They’re usually lovable, loyal and grateful, but be careful because if the Cubicle Farm Donkey is overworked, it will completely lock down and refuse to take it anymore. It will stubbornly dig in with all fours, leaving you pulling and pushing at its strong muscular haunches. Go away Jerry, the “pushing at its strong muscular haunches” wasn’t an invitation for raunchy remarks.
The Chicken (or the Chicken Coop)
You’ll be able to automatically recognize this group of people by their ceaseless judgment of all of those around them, regardless of relationship, age or status. Also, their place of congregation is around the water cooler or a very specific corner of the break room (that often strangely smells like them). The Coop can also manifest itself into something of a conversational hive for the sake of conversation, where nothing is being said and the low buzz and laughter is nothing but distracting. Expect the exchanges to stop for a moment as you pass and then you’ll hear them promptly flare up as you walk away. Although the Coop is constantly making noise, they are all but harmless and even downright jovial at certain times. If you befriend them, you might even get decent, unbiased advice about your outfit. Warning: these Chickens do not lay eggs. Do not – I repeat: do not – try to check if they have unless you want to talk to HR and take sensitivity training.
The Kittens, Puppies and Juvenile Animals
They’re cute, fluffy and they do stupid things that make us laugh. That’s pretty much all they’re good for.
The ducks just kind of do their own thing, floating listlessly around the pound, sometimes dipping below the surface to see if there is anything worthwhile down there. If you give them bread, they’ll come to you pretty quick but once you’re out, they’ll promptly return to the center of the pond and continue to happily paddle around. Maybe that example was a bit too obtuse: these are the people that sprint to the break room any time there are donuts, cinnamon rolls or other edibles, and then quickly disappear when the munchies do.
Arguably the most important member of the Cubicle Farm. Although the Farmer technically doesn’t reside in the Cubicle Farm, but rather in a spacious office surrounded by nice furniture and glass all around, he still makes his rounds and ensures that everything is going according to plan. A good farmer plants his seeds, waters them, and waits patiently for the plants to grow. Unfortunately, not all farmers are good ones: some farmers prefer to plant their seeds and then stand right above them, and verbally and emotionally abuse them until they grow. And when they do grow, they yell at them because they aren’t growing fast enough and it’s all because their father didn’t love them, and the little plants will never feel adequate because of… um… yeah… sorry about that… I… I think I went a lot deeper than I was expecting in an article that made a parallelism between a barnyard and a corporate office environment.
Wow. OK, I think I need a drink but if you have anything else you would like to add, please let me know in the comments section below.