By Comedic Storyteller Onicia Muller
"The person will be working in an agile cell with a number of other resources from various teams.” It was a trap only the slickest of corporate copywriters could set: Agile Cell – “Agile” meaning flexible and “Cell” meaning cubicle.
Someone in marketing or human resources (HR) had found a way to rebrand open-plan workspaces. I know this because I have a gift for detecting scams, swindles and schemes.
Once, while working as a funding researcher, my boss promised mentorship and an opportunity to work very closely. Rebecca name-dropped companies and influential people we could get grants from.
Securing funding was important because she was sharing space with another non-profit that she worked with. This would be temporary until money started rolling in. She had all the info; all I had to do was to make a few phone calls and send some emails.
Bamboozeled. Lies. Hoodwinked.
Renting an office within an office? I thought it would be like a co-working space. Nah. Rebecca was squatting in someone’s breakroom and called it an “office”. Nee, she called it a non-profit with an open-plan workspace.
Picture it: A modest office breakroom. Instead of three small tables for eating, there are two large desks and 4 large filing cabinets crammed together like a bad Tetris structure.
Nope. Not renovated or repurposed. The breakroom was multi-purposed. The fridge, coffee and tea station, microwave and dishes were all still there.
We didn’t have a door because, like I said, La Loca. Was. Renting. The. Breakroom! *Screams in entry-level employee*
Man dem was just walking in and out of we space all day. Heating up they food and chatting at the water cooler.
Cold call strangers for money was even more embarrassing because they could hear the microwave, coffee pot, and random conversations in the background. Even scammin’ call centres have a better set up!
Although it was mostly just the two of us, I didn’t have a workstation. I sat on the opposite side of Rebecca’s desk. I’m glad she couldn’t look directly at my screen. Do you know how hard it is to maintain an expression of intense research when your boss is two feet away from your face? Was my screen reflected in my glasses? We’ll never know.
Unfortunately, I had to relocate to the lunch table whenever she had guests or the other intern showed up. My secondary spot allowed her to see my screen. That heaux ain’t offer no kind of mentorship. Can’t believe I was nervous about losing that tashazz job.
After a few weeks of “researching”, she wanted to see me make some phone calls.
Gulp. I hopped on the phone and immediately started drowning. Her contacts were almost 10 years old. She waited until I was live with someone to start telling me what to say.
Girl, I have many skills but taking direction while I try to talk to someone else is not one of them.
I really just wanted to spin around and hand her the phone like “bish, would you like to talk?”
But I can’t really be salty. Any job requiring you to use your own phone or computer is gonna be trash. Thank gawd for *67 and an unlimited phone plan.
Shout out to all my cubicle homies. You might not have an office but you’re still better off than us in these raggedy open-plan workspaces.
Created on St. Maarten; based in Chicago, Onicia Muller (@OniciaMuller) is an award-winning comedic storyteller. She writes, says funny things, and enjoys hanging with creative minds. “Just Be Funny” is a weekly reflection where Onicia laughs at life. Visit www.OniciaMuller.com/JBF