The perfect cubicle

leftovers & links
Monday, May 15, 2023

Within a week of my first day at Haugen & Dahl, I was known as the quiet guy in the office. Now I've been there almost three months, and three times with three different people I've had to have the "You don't talk much" conversation.

My half goes like this:

Yup, I don't talk much.

I'll say something when I have something to say.

Nah, being quiet doesn't mean I'm a psychopath, or that I hate you. It doesn't mean anything at all, except that I'm not one of those people who needs to be talking all the time.

I'm going to go back to doing my work now.

Eventually my co-workers at Haugen & Dahl, as at every other job I've had, will learn to deal with my general silence, like I've learned to deal with all the people who ask why I don't talk much. 

A month or so ago, I cracked a tiny, barely funny joke — a quick riff on something we'd all just overheard in a call-center conversation.

No, I'm not gonna repeat it here; It was by far too unfunny to be repeated, and barely funny enough to say it out loud when I said it, but all the people on my 'team' reacted with loud laughter. The co-worker who'd been on the phone had to excuse herself and pit a caller on hold, while she laughed.

That's another advantage of being the quiet guy — say nothing but 'good morning' and 'good night' for a week, and almost anything you say will sound profound, or hilarious. Just make sure it's not hilarious when you intended profound.

Somehow I lucked into the perfect cubicle. I didn't ask for it, didn't particularly like it when I first saw it. I thought, Why am I so far from the people I work with, the people I need to ask questions of? All of my co-workers are in the next row of cubicles, but I'm near the back of a different row.

My only neighbor is a woman who's part of a different department, so she doesn't care or even know what I do. My boss sits at the front of my row of cubicles, but he simply never comes back to check on me. It has not happened once.

Sometimes, rarely, my boss does come back toward me, but it's to talk to that woman who sits near me. With the viewpoint from my desk, though, I have about ten seconds warning when he's on the way, so I minimize BoingBoing and scrutinize a piece of paper.

It gets better: Two days out of five, the woman who sits near me works from home instead, and two different days out of five, my boss works from home. Often I'm usually so completely alone that I take my mask off.

There's a "hotelling" cubicle behind me, where clients and visitors can sit, but that cubby has only been occupied one day in the past two months.

What it all means is, nobody's watching me. Nobody's getting on my nerves. Long as I get my work done (and I do) nobody's the wiser if I spend an hour reading a book.

Compare my seating luck with the new temp in the office: She was given the cubicle directly outside my boss's boss's door. The cubicle walls are shorter over there, so everyone walking by — and it's a busy corridor — has a clear view of her screens. She's gotta be all work, all the time, and jeez, that's gotta suck.

Me, I'm reading Reddit.

Here's something unexpected. Remember when I wrote about a brouhaha at work between Brianna and Kimmy, with Ramona stepping in?

Most places I've worked, a bad moment like that is the beginning of worse moments to come, but for these ladies, it seems to have been immediately forgotten. Starting the very next day and every day since, they all chat, they laugh, but there's only the slightest bristling, a few seconds every few weeks. 

Even more unexpectedly, almost three months into the job, I don't hate anyone at work — not even Peter, who always seems nervous but forges ahead and talks to people anyway, sometimes even to me. I kinda wish he wouldn't, but his discomfort and twitchy voice at least makes it amusing.

Imagine that — I like all of the people I'm working with. It's unprecedented. I keep waiting for someone to take the 'asshole' role, because there's an asshole in every office, often more than one. Not at Haugen & Dahl, though.

Or, wait... Maybe the asshole is me?

So I like my cubicle and co-workers, and my boss seems to like me. Also it's pushing 90° outside today, but the a/c keeps the office a pleasant 68°. It all sounds almost idyllic, but there's one hitch.

I'm not sure it's a job I want.

News you need,
whether you know it or not

US sold weapons to roughly 60% of world's authoritarian nations in 2022: analysis 

Not having cellphone allowed US boy to save runaway bus from crashing 

French Catholic Church to provide clergy with scannable IDs to show whether priests, bishops and deacons are facing sexual abuse charges 

Church asks for legal sanctions against man who claims childhood abuse by priest 

Ohio Catholic priest guilty on 5 sex-trafficking charges spanning 15 years 

COVID causing long-term health problems for many young people: "I felt so defeated" 

Locals force council to fill in potholes by drawing penises around them 

The early heat wave gripping the Northwest is rare — and worrying 

Canada: extreme "heat dome" temperatures set to worsen wildfires 

Climate change is making cyclones more intense 

How climate change is impacting the Hudson Bay Lowlands — Canada’s largest wetland 

Climate change will cut land for coffee by more than 50%, report says 

Climate change brings warmer, wetter weather to Trinidad 

San Diego cop who staged suicide, shot gun in home, solicited sex workers, was never disciplined 

In 2022, convictions for 81 Americans convicted of murder were exonerated, with most of the cases involving false accusations, official misconduct, and/or perjury 

Patrick Brown was freed Monday after spending 29 years in prison for rape, despite the victim repeatedly saying he wasn't the perp 

Bodycam footage shows cops sicced police dog on unarmed black man on his front porch, "for no reason" 

Audit finds New Jersey cops aren't all that enthusiastic about public accountability 

Ex-sheriff's deputy indicted for school resource officer wife's 2022 murder is also accused of 'continuous' child rape in Tennessee 

Judge rules cop's violent record inadmissible at his murder trial 

No charges for off-duty cop who killed 13-year-old girl with cruiser. Prosecutor says it doesn't matter if he was speeding. 

Montana Governor signs bill that bars the state from considering climate impacts 

Republican Congressperson claims she's never seen any violent Trump supporters 

Meteorologists are the new targets in global social media misinformation 

Trump wants to bring back coup-plotters Michael Flynn and Jeffrey Clark 

Three Republican-appointed federal appeals court judges rule that Nashville can't force developers to build or pay for sidewalks 

It's an unspoken principle in a lot of Republican policies: If you can't get there by car, you can't get there.

Republican's PAC to boost "political outsiders" instead pays its founder's campaign debt 

Mystery links
There's no knowing where you're going


My browser history
without the porn

Ultra-Processed People: Why do we all eat stuff that isn’t food… and why can’t we stop? 

In a little cafe just the other side of the border 

The cold war rivalry between Berlin's two zoos 

The century-old quest to create motorized skates 

How much is a smidgen?

 • The search for the giant Palouse earthworm 

Computer art in the 50’s & 60’s 

♫♬  It don't mean a thing  ♫
if it don't have that swing

The Ecstasy of Gold — Ennio Morricone 

The Ecstasy of Gold — Metallica 

I Just Called to Say I Love You — Stevie Wonder 

Just the Way You Are — Billy Joel 

Surf Medley — Junior Brown 

Eventually, everyone
leaves the building

Arman Soldin 

Terrence Hardiman 

Thomas Kong 

Ronald Steel


Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.  

Tip 'o the hat to ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, CaptCreate's Log, Dumnezero, Katameme, Looking for My Perfect Sandwich, One Finger Medical, Two Finger Magical, Miss Miriam's Mirror, Nebulously Burnished, RanPrieur.com, Voenix Rising, and anywhere else I've stolen links, illustrations, or inspiration. 

Special thanks to Linden Arden, Becky Jo, Wynn Bruce, Joey Jo Jo, John the Basket, Dave S, Name Withheld, and always extra special thanks to my lovely late Stephanie, who gave me 21 years and proved that the world isn't always shitty.


  1. Hey! Just checking back in, just drove four days to Texas on the way to Mexico, got lucky at a rest area and after talking with a woman for a while she let me touch her tits, that'll most likely be the highlight of my trip. (Yeah I had to beg but, you gotta do what ya gotta do, ya know?)

    1. You're a Californian, aren't you? Why would you drive to Mexico by way of Texas? Looong detour just to touch a woman's bosoms.

      Send me a post card, though!

    2. Not my business, but I care about anybody to connects with Doug here. This might be an OK time to enter Mexico, but there are 2 followed by a shitload of zeros of people waiting to enter the USA, and the border Nazis are using rough means to repel them. Maybe there's some kind of ten items or less line that would speed your return, but I'm way too much of a wuss to take the chance.

      I don't know what the position is of Canadian girls with regard to free feels, but your return is likely to be friendlier and much less violent. Hell, if you go from California to Mexico via Texas, it's not all that far out of the way to swing north to the Boundary Lakes crossing near the Iron Range in Minnesota. You can visit Dylan's childhood home AND avoid concussion-related return injury all in one bucolic trip.

      Hoping for your safe return,


    3. I've been reading about the migrant rush at the border for several years now, although 'reading' is an exaggeration. I read the headlines, that's all, because I've never seen the big whoop and worry in immigration.

      Sounds like you know what's up down at the border, so 'splain it please — are there really more people crossing that 10 or 20 years ago, and if so, why?

    4. OK, but not in detail. That's beyond my meager powers. Title 42 is technically a public health measure signed by Trump during the early days of Covid. It allows American border guards to exclude from entry anybody they want based on the assumption that they might have Coved (with no requirement to test them). Title 42 is in the process of expiring, and there's a three year backlog of would-be Mexican and Central American immigrants waiting at or near the southern border. There's a concern that without Title 42 in effect, all (pick a number) 20,000 - 200,000 - 2,000,000 awaiting immigrants will rush the border and enter illegally. There's also a concern that those who attempt to enter legally might not be turned away because there might not be a reason to exclude them. There are scant transition services for poor, unsponsored immigrants, and those services will be depleted the first day. Obviously, America can't let these people starve while they're awaiting their immigration hearings, and it's likely illegal to employ them until they're citizens.

      I probably made two or three factual errors there, but you get the sense (or nonsense) of it. We are a nation of immigrants, and in the last hundred years or so we've repeatedly forgotten that.


    5. Your "meager " powers overpower mine. I appreciate the overview. You give higher-quality answers than Google.

      Sounds like the same run for the border as always, made worse by Trump (unsurprisingly).

      Maybe because of my soft spot for a good burrito, I have never been able to work up a good head of worry about immigration. Soon as they get here, legal or not, they're hard-working Americans.

    6. It's been 63 years since "Harvest of Shame" which was telecast a hundred years after the war that ended slavery was beginning -- about the time the USA (and CSA) started importing workers from the Western Hemisphere to harvest their crops. Things were shit 63 years ago and have somewhat improved: better housing for migrant workers and even occasional educational opportunities, but it's still a harvest of shame. And Ed Murrow is working for a web site cloaked as a network, still smoking out social inequities. Great spirits die but don't go away.


    7. I have never seen anything like this on American commercial television. Ed Morrow, brought to you by Philip Morris, but it looks like journalism. It's here, if anyone's interested.

  2. Best advice I ever got: if there's a "Deb" in your office, make friends with "Deb." "Deb" is the one who organizes the birthday cakes or buys the group card, etc. When her girls are selling cookies, buy a couple boxes. It's not because she's great or can do anything, but earning the irrational hatred of "Deb" will bury you there. Everyone will turn against you. It's like that scene in Celine's "Journey To The End of the Night" when he's on the cruise boat and he's just a single guy and keeps to himself and from finding him aloof they soon develop a visceral hatred of him and are actually organizing themselves into a mob to throw him overboard. Keaton always said, "I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of him." Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is "Deb."

  3. Beautiful, G.

    I don't understand the why of it, but you're right — Deb is always that lady. I can remember three Debs, and they're all the person you described.

    The exception to the rule is if Deb is the boss, though.


🚨🚨 BY THE WAY... 🚨🚨
The site's software sometimes swallows comments. If it eats yours, send an email and I'll get it posted.