You Mean I’m Getting Paid to Sit in This Gray Cube All Day?

To get paid to do this work would be an insult.


Photo courtesy of Mark Sebastian

Alright, Mr. Yang — very funny. Thought you and the boys in HR would screw with the new guy, huh? Mysteriously drop a paycheck on his desk when we both know this is the volunteer experience of a lifetime? Well, unfortunately for you, wise guy, I can see right through this flimsy little charade. So why don’t you come clean, I’ll tear up this check, and then you can let me head back to my dream opportunity: sitting in a dark, windowless cube, filling out expense reports for eight hours a day.

You still aren’t cracking a grin. Come on, Mr. Yang. What do you expect me to believe? That the W-2 you had me fill out wasn’t part of an elaborate prank? That you weren’t trying to make me laugh until I wept during my job interview by saying, “We legally have to compensate you for this data entry position”? You must think I’m a complete moron, then, because if I bought into that whopper, the only logical conclusion would be…

You don’t actually intend to tell me I’m getting paid to sit in this gray cube all day, do you? You must be mistaken. To take part in the great pageantry of paper clipping, stapling, and taping forms together? To bask in the brilliant, heavenly glow of fluorescent lighting? To — dare I say it? — use a filing cabinet? You’re giving me cold, hard cash for that?

There’s just no way. No way in hell. I must have inhaled one too many containers of toner last time I was unjamming the printers — sent myself tumbling into the sort of hallucinatory wonderland where I’m compensated for the rare delight of using a 2006 Dell Optiplex to input Excel data while in a perpetually anxious, sleep-deprived state. Because, otherwise, if this really is happening — if you are seriously paying me to take part in this veritable Shangri-La — then you must be out of your goddamn mind.

I mean, do you even understand how much I’ve sacrificed just to get here? The second I saw the classified for this position, I quit my job. I alienated my entire family by making a cubicle out of cardboard in my backyard and sleeping in it. Eventually, I even divorced my wife. Yeah, that’s right. I told her, “Honey, opportunity only knocks once,” and then I marched straight out the door to pursue my sweet, impossible dream of spending most of my earthly existence inside of a felt-covered cube.

And it paid off. After losing almost everything in the process — my life savings to the divorce, one of my kidneys to help keep me afloat, my homemade cubicle to a pack of marauding geese — you called me up one Saturday night to tell me the fifteen most glorious words I’ve ever heard: “There weren’t any other applicants for the position, so it’s yours if you want it.” At that point, my joy was too great to contain. I hung up, got down on my knees, and sang praise to the Great Cube in the sky.

You look confused, Mr. Yang. Let me pause, then, to explain that obviously I don’t believe God works in a cubicle. No, don’t be ridiculous. I believe God is a cubicle. A majestic, infallible cube that hovers up in the clouds deciding our fates. How else could I explain a universe so benevolent and caring as to let me awake bleary-eyed every morning, look at the alarm reading 7 a.m., and think to myself, You’ve made it, big guy. Eight glorious hours of transferring arcane paperwork from an inbox to an outbox await.

Nope, people like me are just married to our jobs, I suppose. And, to be clear, I mean that absolutely literally. Three days ago, I found a reverend through Craigslist, smuggled him into the office after hours, and forced him to marry me to my cubicle, which I then proceeded to make rough, passionate love to until daylight broke through the office windows.

I see that you’re dialing 911, Mr. Yang. There’s really no need to do that.

For don’t you see? The only crime I’m guilty of is loving this job too much. Because no matter how wildly optimistic my hopes were for this position — and believe me, the instant I saw the words “data-entry” in the ad they were sky-high — what you’ve told me today has completely blown them out of the water. And while I know I’ll never be able to fully repay you for that, what I can promise is that from now on I’ll always be here with my nose to the grindstone, sunrise to sunset — a pledge I’ll follow through on in a few moments when I handcuff myself to my desk and swallow the key.

Now, if anyone needs me, just tell them to look for the luckiest guy in the world. I’ll be the one with the million-dollar smile, finishing up some paperwork inside of his beautiful, cube-shaped wife.

Mike Gillis is a writer at The Onion, with other pieces on McSweeney's and College Humor. You can follow him on Twitter.