There goes my neighborhood. Again.

Picture moving out to a nice home in the country, and then, 3 years after you've gotten used to the peace and quiet, you wake up one morning to discover that the pristine field in front of your house is now the site of PhishFest 2008 and covered in filthy hippies, and that's the way it's going to be from then on.

A while back I had a job in a cube farm. I am pretty sure that while I was there, I had fungus growing in my ears. This is because in order to avoid going completely bat-shit insane, I was forced to wear ear-buds and listen to my iPod all day.

There is a universal truth about working in IT. The absolute worst group of people you can sit next to is a group of help desk people. There are many reasons for this. Allow me to list a few of them:

(1) They are on the phone with customers for 8 hours every day. Their phones ring constantly, and every one of them has a different ring-tone assigned to their phone.

(2) Their noise levels do not increase in a linear fashion. To put it another way, 8 help desk people do not make twice the noise of 4. They make at least 3 times more. This ratio holds true regardless of the number of HD people you have. And they are completely immune to the noise.

(3) They have a tendency to have 200 IM messages on their screen at any given time, all of which beep every time the person on the other end hits return -- and,

(4) They all do the same job. That means they are constantly yelling back and forth over their cube walls with their customers on hold.

And I sat 20 feet from the monkey house.

All this would have been tolerable, and I probably would have gotten used to it, except for three individuals. I never actually saw these people, so I drew pictures of how I envisioned them to look based on their behavior.

This is Trumpet-Nose Guy.

When TNG blew his nose, it sounded like an elephant getting a red-hot poker jammed up his ass. He blew his nose like he was trying to summon the Loch Ness Monster to his cube for a quickie before lunch. He blew his nose like this every 2-3 minutes, all day long. I heard him in between songs on my iPod. I heard him during songs that weren't by Tool. I don't know if he had allergies, or a cold, or if he was just doing too much coke before breakfast -- I didn't give a shit. I just wanted him to learn how to blow his nose like a member of the human race, instead of like some prehistoric plant-eating dinosaur warning the other herbivores that the T-Rex is coming for lunch.

This is Nubbin Girl.

Note the tiny, useless, ornamental skin nubs where her ears are supposed to be. I base this drawing solely on the fact that she always had her IM notification beep set to a completely insane volume, and it beeped non-stop. It was an annoying DOO-DOOP sound that dug tiny but deep furrows in my brain stem. I can only assume Nubbin Girl had it set that way so she could feel the sonic vibrations in her chest and would consequently know that she had an IM. Or perhaps it was so someone else would get fed up with the noise and punch her in the neck so that way she would also know she had an IM.

Lastly, this is No-Nose Guy.

Something over there always smelled like ass, and while I never determined who the offending individual was -- I envisioned him with no nose because he obviously couldn't smell himself. I knew it was a person, because it was intermittent -- but due to proximity, I couldn't seem to catch him. I would be sitting there minding my own business, when the smell would waft past my desk in his wake. By the time I smelled it, he'd already have taken a hard left down cube row and disappeared. This happened a few times a day. Wafting was not my friend.

Today, I got new neighbors at work, and they're help desk people.

Wish me luck.


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  1. hey. love your blog.
    how do you get your computer drawings like that? do you have one of those pad things?

    - Moufflets

  2. I can only imagine to forthcoming bathroom post given the new residents in your part of the farm.

  3. This almost reminds me of my days teaching middle school except no one is borrowing your stuff and never returning it and you aren't having to field phone calls from their folks.

    Washroom post? Or are help desk people even allowed off their posts long enough? I am thinking yes because I could never get anyone from the help desk to answer a phone when I needed help.

  4. Every cubicle dwellers nightmare to have a trio like there within earshot and smell range. Ick. I feel for you. Good luck moving!

  5. I believe the mathematical term for the unequal increase in noise is referred to as "Exponential." They use it for earthquakes; as in, you can sleep through a 1.0, but a 6.0 buries you in the carcass of your neighbor and all your old 35mm negatives from college that used to be in your attic.

    Beyond that, I would just advise you that I had two aunts, who in the 1960s had monkeys because they couldn't have kids. One threw a bowl of oatmeal across the room from his high (monkey) chair because my grandpa peppered it with hot sauce as a joke. The monkey went away. The other monkey pissed off a great uncle. He took the monkey fishing. Two went out... One came back. Do the math.

    I suggest you buy some hot sauce and a small boat.

  6. wow...i wish u luck, i think u should leave little phantom gifts on their desks
    1. a box of kleenex with lotion to sooth that irritated nose.
    2. the miracle ear
    3. a bunch of scented candles and some baby wipes with xtra fresh scent for "no nose" to wipe his butt with.
    again...i wish u luck

  7. Now THAT's funny!

    Now I don't feel so bad about the "shopping mall" that is my workplace. And I have a door that I can shut. And I don't have to smell ass unless I voluntarily enter the men's room.

    Good luck with the relocation. Hopefully you don't go from the frying pan to the fire.

    I used to work in a cubicle type environment and one time these IT types doing I don't know what. One of them had a walkman (yeah, it was a while ago) and he was actually singing - OUT LOUD - to whatever dance music he was listening to. I complained to my boss but he just said, "Their work is so boring, they need to do that to keep from going insane." Yeah. Nice. No sympathy there.

    Good luck with the whole thing and if you don't get moved too soon, write up some more stories for us, eh?

  8. hehehe the google ads on the side made me giggle:

    - Urine Odor?
    - Need to treat body odor?
    - Noise-Vibration Engineers
    - Ask a lawyer online now

    im not sure where the last one came from, but the first three were too funny!

  9. That was pretty funny.

  10. I made it two years with nighttime earplugs to avoid chicken noises and was miraculously fungal crud free. May this gift be passed unto you.

  11. Oh I am sorry JV. That must suck. I can sort of related even though I have never had a job that involved cubicles. But I can relate to your very first sentence about living in a country home with a prestine field and then waking up to a Phishfest. Because we live that exact same nightmare a couple of times a year, except take out the Phishfest and the hippies, but add country music karaoke, cheap beer, a bunch of scary rednecks, guns, and atv's. The people who own the land across from us have summer time parties in the field. I guess since it is almost summer, I should prepare myself for it.

  12. I love your drawings Johnny! They bring your characters to life.

    After reading this post I will never again gripe about my narrow, windowless office with bad fluorescent lighting. I'm situated far away from the annoying programmers, I have a door that works, I have got it made!!

  13. You can always come in before Nubbin Girl and turn off the speakers on her computer or disconnect them entirely and see how long it takes her to figure out what the problem is. Or walk by her desk with something heavy and "accidentally" drop it on the speakers...might give you a little bit of relief...

    As for the person responsible for the ripe stank, you could buy a can of air freshener, and every time wafting happens, stand up in your cubicle and madly spray it everywhere...maybe they'll get the point.

    No idea what to do about the first one.

    Love your blog.

  14. your artwork is brilliant!

  15. I actually live with an "IT-Help Desk" person. All that annoying nose blowing? I think it is because they are allergic to their work. The singing loudly to their radio/own private musical going on in their head? That happens pretty much where ever they go. The sound level of IM/computer noises? Cause they are deaf as posts from having to listen to people call in and complain all day. Can't help ya with the smell thing...just not sure why that happens other than they are afraid that a shower might rinse away brain cells or something.

    I used to work with a guy that would head to his car and spark up a fatty each and every break he went on. When he came back and walked by you, you could get high just off the fumes wafting from him...every one in the office always had the munchies for some reason...

    Thanks for the giggles...er...laughs!

  16. Personally, I sit next to The Clipper, a computer programmer with what I'm sure is Asperger's and who has a nasty habit of clipping all ten of his nails numerous times a day. Down the way is The Giggler. Need I say more? They all find graphs, equations and computer lingo extremely funny. Across the way is a Project Manager who thinks she needs to speak louder simply because she's calling internationally. I lost count of how many times a day I hear "HELLO GASTON!" in her familiar squall. Then there’s the Chip Eater…

  17. Ugh!! Hope you can get away soon!
    Love your new Profile picture, BTW!!!

  18. I feel your pain. I used to sit across the wall from a guy who snorted every 3-5 minutes and on the occasional Friday would clip his nails for 20 minutes. Honest to God, why would it take that long to clip nails? I swear he was doing his toenails. I had to leave my desk. I did the happy dance the day he moved. And when my whole group moved I made sure I sat near people who didn't do any of those disgusting things.

    I actually my iPod most of the day and no ear fungus here. Of course, I hate ear buds, so I have over the ear earphones.

  19. Where is Trailertrash Trainwreck woman, who talks loudly all day 1) about her worthless kids or 2) TO her worthless kids who have three different dads and criminal records at 12? Often she has very personal medical problems that she will discuss aloud as well. I worked with one of those for YEARS. Knew more about her minge* than I did my own.

    *Ask a British friend

  20. Oh, Johnny, don't you wish people were clairevoyant so they could avoid pi$$ing us off before they actually do? But then, what would we blog about?!?! Be well!




  21. I don't sit next to any help desk people, but I have very similar style of co-workers.

    In the cube next to me is a "clear throat by making pre-phlegm-spit sound as loud as fucking possible guy." (The same guy blows out the contents of his nose one nostril at a time in the company bathroom sink, fyi.) Other than that, he's a cool guy.

    I also have a "talk loud as hell on the cell phone about personal life trying and failing to impress cute co-workers guy." It seems like every conversation has the phrases "that sounds awesome!" and "come by my place at eight!"

  22. Been there, smelled that. I've never had anyone draw it out as well as you though - the art was awesome! I knew what you meant before I read the description just based on the size of his schnoz and Nessie in the background! Too funny! & what's with the profile pic? I gather that it was taken before the surgery?
    Anyway, thanks for the laugh (again!)

  23. Nicki, it was a joke based on my "fan mail" in the last post....

  24. Oh ok - ya - I read it and totally understand...

  25. Do the recon and and figure these people out. Just leave politish notes before any get there or after they all leave. I'm certain their actions bother at least a few other people. Their computer volumes (or IM volumes) could obviously be turned down or IM sounds turned off; if they're at their desk, they can *visually observe* that someone is IMing them. If they don't change after leaving a note, jam a little aluminum foil into their audio jacks.


  26. Gee, I'm in that place right now.
    I think the "Chicken" Noises referes to people who laugh like chickens. There's one of those on my floor and she cackles as if in various stages of egg laying. I hate it.

    Here are a few weapons of combat that I use. I hope that they come in handy for you.

    For the phones - take the cord out of the phone. Another option is to press the "Make Busy" button if they have a median phone. It'll stop the ringing anyway. I hope that makes sense.

    I am on the thought process that if you leave your computer screen open that its open to fair game.
    I always find using the auto format on other peoples email worth a few laughs. It's fun to watch people figure out why every time they type the word "Thankyou" in an email it comes up as "Hugs and Kisses" instead!
    Also hold down Ctrl + Alt + down arrow for their screen to turn upside down. Champagne comedy.
    I might seem evil, I refer to it as "Cubical Rage"!

    As for the farting. I would suggest investing in some heat sensing goggles to find out where the "Phft" is coming from. There is nowhere to hide then.

    Good Luck

  27. I have a coworker in the next cube over who will, suddenly, and totally out of nowhere, just sing a line of a song. Just some random lyric. Scares the crap out of me. Oh and she hums. My other coworker says it sounds a lot like a sick ghost.

    If headphones are bad, I don't want to be right!!

  28. I used to work with "Invisible Man". He had worked at the company since the mid 1970s and was totally incompetent. The secret to his staying power was that he did as little work as possible and made sure that none of the VP level people knew who he was. Consequently he would throw anyone under the bus when trouble arose just to deflect attention away from himself. We worked in a bullpen situation. When he would leave the room I used to unplug his keyboard and leave the plug in just far enough that it looked like it was still in. He would start pounding on the keyboard like an animal (maybe like a monkey) and usually call Help Desk when it wouldn't work. This would give me double joy because usually they would send down Andy, The Angriest Systems Administrator Ever, to "troubleshoot". He'd get really pissed when he found he cut into his smoke break for a unplugged keyboard. When I left that job I wanted to get a fish or some other smelly food product and put it in the drop ceiling over Invisible Man's desk. My biggest failure at that job was not doing that.

  29. Having worked in cube farms, I am totally sympathetic.

  30. I hate, hate, hate anything to do with Help Desk people. When we have a computer problem in our company we have to call an 800 number which is located in India of all places. After giving my employee info and trying to explain what is wrong with my computer, the person in India contacts the IT person who is located one floor above me. How does this make any sense. Is the IT person too good to take my call. Once the IT person comes in my cube I have to explain my problem all over again. I bypassed the call to India one time and went straight to the IT person - guess what, I got written up. Asshole company procedures!!! And another thing, why is it that every time the damn IT person messes with my computer all my icons are rearranged on my Desktop. I think they do this on purpose as a little joke cause they hate to get off their fat asses and leave their cube.

  31. I may just be a professional student.
    Though we have our share of icky people. Did I ever tell you about the guy who licked the syllabus first day of class?
    Talk about stinky.

  32. Why did you send your rejects down here? they work in the next aisle over from my cube-hell-home. One cackles like a freaking witch. She has the LOUDEST....

  33. I wore earplugs overseas 10 hours a night for two years - between the effin' roosters at 4 in the morning, crows on my roof and the local mosque's call-to-prayer, it was nuts. I wish I could tell you the secret on not becoming deaf since I would wear the same pair for up to a month and I contracted every OTHER form of creeping crud. Maybe the foam's got antibacterial properties or something. Now I just run a fan on HIGH to block out night noises. It works.

    Good luck!

  34. Dude! We work in a command center and the monkeys are all around us. The chief yacker, aka Cliff Walrus, left recently so we won't be abused with endless war stories of everything he's supposedly done in a 20-year Navy Seal career. ^_^;

    Anyway, we appreciated your post because we sympathize. ^_^

  35. At least the hippies at PhishFest have good drugs. What do the occupants of your Monkey House have?

  36. Antidepressants if they have any sense at all.

  37. dude
    those drawings are fantastic!

    not only that, i totally relate to the office raping...

  38. omg...i laughed so hard at this...i actually had to call a friend and read the descriptions of the 3 unknown persons...we work with them as well...annoying as all hell...i've often thought about bringing a super magnet in for our "nubbin girl" and placing it right by her hard drive...maybe she would get a hint but i doubt it!

  39. I work with a No-Nose guy, too.

    He upset so many olfactory nerves in the office that they sent him to work from home.

  40. Once again, you don't disappoint. Thanks for the laughs. and nice drawings btw.

  41. I have two cube neighbors. One farts when he thinks nobody is around, and one pays chinese folk songs through his iPod so loudly that I'm starting to understand Mandarin.

    I hate them both.

  42. this is exactly why I work from home as much as "they" will let me!

  43. Courtney11:30 AM

    I got a huge kick out of this - and I say that because I know you're pain. I no longer work in an office, but it really took me back and reminded me why I don't want to! Thanks!

  44. I have an office, with a big desk and comfy chairs.

    And a door.

    That closes...


    Excellent post.