Home > Art, Life, Really? > “This is not okay!”

“This is not okay!”

The elevator doors parted and the retired schoolteacher stepped out onto the twelfth floor of the office building. Her tour guide led her through the glass doors onto the office floor where a maze of cubicles spread out for hundreds of yards all around.

“This is not okay!” the teacher exclaimed, her voice shrill against the muffled darkness of the workspace on a quiet Saturday morning. A lone head popped up behind a cubicle wall to see who had spoken. It disappeared just as quickly. “This is how people work behind computers all day?”

“I’ve been doing it for nearly 30 years,” replied the tour guide, chuckling ironically. “I guess that makes me one of the rats in the race.”

The teacher looked inside one of the tiny cubes at stacks of paper, a computer monitor, various personal trinkets, and shook her head. “This isn’t right. People shouldn’t have to work this way.”

“You get used to it after a while. It’s not so bad if you like the people you work with. And we painted our break room with a fun ocean scene. Come and look.”

The 30-foot long by 10-foot wide break room contained a few tables and a long mural on the opposite wall from the door. There were no windows but the painted scene did open the space up a bit. Still, the teacher was not satisfied.

“Is this what are educational system is preparing you for? To sit at a desk all day and stare at a screen? I always thought we were trying to teach you to dream of creative ideas for changing the world.”

The tour guide thought for a moment. “I guess we do change the world, in our own way. We make it possible for magazines to be shipped all over the world, bringing news and entertainment to people everywhere. Do you subscribe to any magazines? I can pull up the record for you and show you how the magazine finds its way to your door from the publisher.” She sat down at the computer and with a few keys strokes retrieved the teacher’s file and showed her the intricacies of magazine fulfillment. In a moment, the teacher’s face lit up with amazement. In all her years of teaching, she had never visited a corporate office to see what it was some of her students were doing when they grew up.

The tour guide said, “I once thought of being a Recreation Director, working outside and running around all day. But then I went to school and learned that there was much more to the job that I knew I wouldn’t like, so I took some computer classes and realized that this was what I was really suited for. I’m good at my job now so I don’t have to struggle as much to figure things out. I’m actually an expert at the type of programming I do on my team so people usually come to me for help. I enjoy teaching them how to work more efficiently and in a few years I’ll be able to retire with a decent pension. I go out for a couple of walks in the sunshine every day and have lunch with my co-workers sometimes. All in all, it’s not a bad gig.”

The teacher’s face had softened since her initial shock at entering the office. She almost seemed relaxed at the explanation the tour guide had given her. “I guess it’s not something I would have chosen for myself. I really enjoyed the freedom of being a kindergarten teacher. I got to teach kids to sing, to dance, to play and create. I always thought that if I could pass my love for those things onto them that they would grow up to find joy in everything they did. I guess there are lots of ways to define joy. I’m glad I came here today to experience yours.”

The electronic security door clicked closed behind them, and the teacher smiled to herself as she remembered what she’d always told her students: “We never stop learning….”

Categories: Art, Life, Really?
  1. Mama Nance
    February 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Do you have a ticket to be on this tour ? Ha !!!!

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