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October 29, 2001: The trials of cube life

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There is one decidedly awkward thing about cubes. That would be the complete and utter lack of insulation for sound. I find myself whispering into the phone in order to not bother my neighbors. When they're on their phones I try without success to avoid eavesdropping on their conversations, but it's hard to ignore when they make no attempt at secrecy, and I've never been good at drowning out conversations around me.

This is nothing new. In all my projects I've been stuck in one cube maze or another. During one assignment I shared a wall with a woman who had almost weekly tearful phone calls with her ex-husband on the subject of their children. Another assignment ended none too soon when the woman whose cube wall backed mine installed ICQ and insisted on using it with all sound options turned on and at full volume. And lately, I'm subjected to coworkers' financial difficulties and family squabbles, whether I want to know them or not.

I have never been one who likes to work to music, but I am getting the distinct impression that perhaps this is a skill I need to learn. The computer setup in the new cube came with speakers and a set of headphones, already plugged in. I suppose I really ought to take the hint.

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