Office cubicles and postcards (Part I)

Carin sat staring at the wall of her office cubicle, and the dozen pinned up postcards from Tibet, Mongolia and Bhutan that had been delivered to her post box over the past two years jeered back at her. She could have been there right now, wearing a shallow straw hat and muddied boots and walking in the mountains with a long stick, or perhaps riding on a horse across an empty plain. But no. She had said no, and so Derek had said farewell to her as well as to everyone else, and gone by himself. Meanwhile she … well, she sat where she had sat for the past eight years, stable in her salary, stable in her smart seventh-floor apartment and comprehensive insurance plan, and ready to scream in response to the life-sucking tedium of it all.

She sat up straight in her chair so she could peer over the divide and see the rest of the room. Her desk was one of five and was positioned in the corner of the room furthest from the entryway, so she had the luxury of no foot traffic behind her and a clear view of the entire room. When bored, which was often, she would survey the small week-based world she shared with four female colleagues.

Janette was at that moment standing by the fax machine, sporting a blank stare and fiddling with her nose ring as she waited for an incoming fax. Tamryn, who was just 22, was rifling through papers in a cabinet drawer in a very important fashion. Carin guessed she had no clue what she was doing. Faith was not at her desk, but Faith was never at her desk. (Twenty bucks said she was chatting with Thinius from accounts over by the water cooler. If asked, they claimed they were both dedicated to drinking eight glasses of water a day. Perhaps they were.) Finally, if she looked left, she could see the profile of sweet-tempered Sonya in the opposite corner. Sonya had turned 50 yesterday but had the joie de vie of a five year old. She was presently working with her nose all but pressed up against her computer screen, punching away at the keyboard with her two index fingers and humming to herself.

Carin slid back down into her chair again. She put her feet up on the windowsill and considered the sky.

She had ended up staying with the company longer than anyone ever expected. She would have had her own office years ago if she hadn’t kept moving departments. But changing around within Sutton Ink was her way of shaking things up in life, without ever actually shaking anything up. Right now she was in the logistics department. For the first week she had felt sure she’d found her niche in the company. She was certain now she hadn’t.

It was 11:50am and Carin had a busy schedule of nothing much to do, so she resumed her postcard contemplation.

She might have stayed that way until lunchtime, but Janette’s strident voice unexpectedly broke through the white noise: “Sonya!” She spoke in the commandeering tone of an angry old-world king summoning a disobedient servant.

Nobody bothered to look up, and Sonya’s humming dropped to pianissimo.

Carin decided she may as well stand up and make her way to see Sean on the ground floor.

– You can read more in Part II below –


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  1. The letter (Part II) | Living my write life - February 7, 2013
  2. The 25 best novels of all time | Living my write life - February 18, 2013

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