Accept Your Failure with Motivational Kitten Posters

Jan 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: Columns

You’ve been working a few years (or a few decades) at your job (aka Slavery Incorporated) and, like me, you have yet to decorate the prison cell your boss keeps telling you is your cubicle. Like Bernie Madoff, it’s time to resign to your fate, bend over and take out some knick-knacks to make your desk look less like an operating table with a computer keyboard.

If I had my choice, I’d decorate my cubicle with all kinds of stuff for napping: massage chair, down pillows, comforter, and a barbed wire fence to keep out the infidels. It would also be chillingly filled with newspaper snippets that make me laugh, like wedding announcements and obituaries (not that there is much difference).

In reality, I just have a fake fish tank with a New Mexico state flag in it.

In contemplation, I’ve realized I may have to change my ways. But one has to be careful, and if you are like me, you hate your job and you want to be alone in your homicidal misery, or at least look so professional bitches know to stay away.

Of course, you have the option of putting up posters of odd stuff, perhaps an ode to your favorite serial killers or a collection of failed taxidermy. But this might be more fascinating than frightening, and you might collect a crowd of revelers like you are the bearded lady at a freak show.

Therefore, your cubicle can’t be horrifying, it has to be humiliating. A reminder, really, that the corporate juggernauts have eaten up your soul and replaced it with something as bloodless and lifeless as Keira Knightly’s acting.

And since stopping by your coworkers’ cells to chat with them about their decor defeats the entire purpose of avoiding inmate conversation in the first place, I have done some research of my own. Here are some foolproof guidelines for constructing the perfect cubicle design that will signal your complete submission to the corporate machine!

1. Personal Photos. Personal photos are the best way to improve the hopeless drudgery of your cubicle. However, I would never put a photo of someone I actually love on my desk, because I’ve seen cop shows before, and that’s always how they get you. With that in mind, consider putting up photos of people you strongly dislike! Or, if you want to play it more mysterious, use the people who come in the frames. To deflect questions about why you have so many black-and-white photos of strangers hugging on bridges, be prepared to burst into tears whenever someone asks.

2. Textiles. Whether it’s a hideous sweater you drape over the back of your chair, or a bizarre pair of slippers breeding under your desk – adding textiles looks like you care about spending long hours at your desk. Just make sure they’re so disgusting that people never want to ask where you got that sweater from.

3. Food. Don’t squirrel food away in your drawers or cabinets, let it be seen! A pile of food on and around your desk says, “I’m in it for the long haul! I could live here if I had to!” Boxes of cereal, ramen noodles, granola bars, and adorable microwaveable bowls of the pasta you ate when you were ten years old are all perfect for desk space decor–they’re inexpensive, colorful, and stackable. You could build a fort out of them if you really wanted to. And don’t forget to accessorize! Your cubicle pantry woudn’t be complete without a selection of plates, silverware, tiny packets of salt, and assorted napkins collected from local fast food eateries.

4. The Mug. Speaking of things you eat stuff with, you definitely need a mug. Preferably a large one that implies you drink a lot of coffee and/or chai. I have one that says “#1 Mom.” I don’t have kids, but it helps explain some of the photos of smiling children I have on my desk (See “Personal Photos” above).

5. Plants. This really says “I’ve been outside! It was nice!” and gives some hope to the other plebes that they too, have the possibility of wandering into the outdoors after a trillion hours of unpaid overtime. Maybe even when it is still light out! You want to make sure that the plant you purchase is 1) real and 2) capable of wilting without completely dying. The latter can then be carefully crafted into a symbol of your dejection, like the plant you are limp, but not defeated, like Braveheart after his limbs were torn off, or the Stock Market.

And that’s all you need to make your cubicle a “I-guess-I’ll-settle-for-this” home! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to navigate away from this column and buy some Corona bottle caps for my fish tank. I’m feeling festive!


Alison Burke is a writer from the Washington D.C. area, and has been a past Defenestration contributor. She enjoys cake and male models. She wishes her life was more like a Baby Bash video — save she would be the douche wearing a sideways cap as bikini-clad men grooved comedically for her viewing pleasure.

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