Excuse Me? Communication in a Cube-Free World

My workplace is “open plan”, by which I mean, we don’t even have cubicles, much less doors. We used to have cubicles, but I removed them. Granted, we have no privacy, but we didn’t have privacy with cubicles either. It was just an illusion.
All our office phones are cordless, so that if you need to have a private conversation, you can step outside.
I can’t remember who pioneered this door-free, cube-free office environment, but it was Apple, or Microsoft, or Google (who can keep them straight?) The idea was that it would foster more spontaneous communication, and therefore more creativity.
In my office, there are anywhere between two and five people ranged at desks here and there. There is enough space to work in comfortably, but if a sixth person comes in, say, a customer, you start to feel a little squeezed. It’s quite amazing how we seem to have these personal boundaries.
So last week, one of my employees received a phone call at the office, just before he was to get off at about two P.M. Remember the cordless phones? This would have been a prime time for him to take advantage of that. Here’s how his end of the conversation went:
“5:00 P.M.? Sure. That sounds great. I’ll bring the canola oil and the garlic.”
Once he hung up, I waited about a minute (timing being everything)and said to no one in particular, “Don’t you want to know what the other person is bringing?” Everyone in the office erupted in laughter.
He said it was for fishing. He and his friend were going to dip the bait worms in a mixture of canola oil and garlic to remove the human smell.
It took me about 10 more minutes for that one, but I eventually asked how it was that fish could smell. He said, okay fish can’t smell, but they have gills, and they take in oxygen that way, so there’s a possibility that they can sense humans. I looked at him blankly, and he said, Okay, I read it in a fishing magazine. It’s an experiment, okay?
I take away two things from this: I bet next time he remembers to take the phone call outside, and fishermen are the craziest and most superstitious group of people in the world.

5 responses to “Excuse Me? Communication in a Cube-Free World

  1. Are you going to ask him if it worked?

  2. I will, but how would you ever know? If they had a good day, it might just be because the fish were dumber that day.

  3. Thats pretty funny:) Fishermen are very superstitious and serious about the silliest things.

  4. Many years ago when I worked in retail I had a million dollar sporting goods department at Montgomery Wards. I had 2 full double sided 10 ft bays of fishing tackle, plus boats, motors and marine accessories. Fishing lures are meant to catch fishermen who can easily have 2K in fishing tackle to catch a couple of bream. It’s pretty silly. One of the manufacturers of lures lived on Lake Tallavana and I used to visit and fish. It was great fishing in the 80’s.

  5. Update: I asked Ruben how the fishing went. He said, “Not too well, but it was a windy day”. Is that classic, or what?

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