workplace coming to?! In a recent survey,
32 percent of workers confessed they have an
office husband or office wife. Does
this offer on-the-job damnation or hope?
I awoke hearing a distant scream. My PC
blinked into life as my head moved over the
keyboard. In embarrassment, I realized the
eerie cry had come from my own mouth. I
wiped a dribble of spit from my lips and looked
A pink face popped over the
partition and a mouth said, What the
hecks happening, Stacey? You shrieked.
I mustve fallen
asleep. I untangled my hair from the
stapler. Bad dream. The head
connected to the mouth belonged to Adam.
But you screamed,
I dozed off doing
this spreadsheet. Its so hot in here
Im passing out. I shook my head
like a dice cup.
Wanta go out for a
smoke. Talk about it?
I frowned. Leave me
alone. His face was conciliatory. Adam was
the peace-maker, Mr. Agreeable, the guy who
rationalized managements idiotic decisions
and made sure everyone contributed equally to the
coffee fund. I really liked Adam, who was
good-looking and personable, but he was spoken
for by a wife.
I cant leave
you alone. I worry about you. Youre my
possessiveness turned my face red. I wanted to
whack him, but that would get me fired. The
company let you dress casual, bring your child to
work and take mental health days off, but
punching a co-worker was a no-no that got a full
paragraph in the employee handbook.
You heard me, Stacey. We
have lunch together every day. We go outside
for cigarettes at 10 oclock and 2
oclock. You and me buy the bagels on
alternate days. He snorted. That
makes us as married as cubicle rats are ever
gonna be, so dont throw a hissy-fit.
I blinked rapidly, my
eyelids doing a little Venetian blind thing. Was
this why my mother had told me to get a teaching
certificate in case corporate life was a bummer? Was
this the payback for my two years at business
college? Reimbursement for buying overpriced
cosmetics and shoes that pinched life
trapped in a cubicle year after year, less two
weeks vacation and seven holidays? Much as I
liked Adam, I didnt need to learn I was his
property to have and hold till retirement.
I dont like
your insinuations, Adam. You dont own
Hey, I know that and
you know that, but do you think the boss cares?
Were just Social Security numbers.
Go back to work,
I ordered. The sum of my life was a rented
room, car payments, a 401(k) melting while I
fanned it with payroll deposits, and dead-end
meetings at the Ramada Inn singles club every
Gotta shake this spring
fever, I told myself. I looked over the
partitions at ten ranks of cubicles in four
columns that stretched to the big clock on the
far wall. The office was as hot as an oven.
I had to fight to keep awake. Coffee would inject
life back into my body.
Lenore sidled up to me at
the coffee maker. The heavyset woman plunked down
her mug and glared. I heard you and
Adam. Get real, Stacey. You and him are
office spouses. Not like his real wife, who
I heard is planning to divorce him.
Look, Lenore, I
dont interrupt you going on about what your
Moms making for dinner. Why are you
Face reality. You and
Adam are work mates. You lunch together, go out
to smoke together, share pastry, bitch about the
idiots in Finance. Cant get any more
married than that.
I stood so rigidly that my
You want to know the
good news? Lenore squinted. You
cant get in trouble with Personnel, he
cant get jail time as a bigamist,
theres no lawyer fees if you break up.
The squint crinkled as a smile crawled over
Lenores face. And you wont get
pregnant if you keep your wits at the Christmas
Lenore was describing my
nightmare. Modern love was being an office
spouse. Eternity stretched ahead. I would be
damned to suffer endlessly as a cubicle concubine.
I dropped my coffee mug, put my hands over my
eyes and screamed again this time
screech came out louder than intended. Heads
popped up over the cubicles like whack-a-moles at
Im not going to
take it anymore! Im going to Personnel. Ill
demand a get-out-of-hell exit visa. The
moles stared silently. If I dont
get transferred out, Ill
join the Peace Corps and see the world, or the
Navy where there are ten men to every woman.
Whos with me? Anyone else sick to death of
being a cell mate?
On the other side of the
room, Adam gave a power salute. He mouthed
one word, Me.