Am I the only one who gets creeped out by cubicle rear-view mirrors? I don’t know if anyone else has these in their workplaces or if this is just a phenomenon where I’m at. The rear-view creepiness comes in several different formats: some people have those round make-up mirrors sitting next to their computer monitors (these are the novices), while others actually have genuine automobile rear-view mirrors mounted to a shelf right above their computer monitors. At first, I thought that the mirrors were just a way of helping out some of the office’s more “special” employees – in the afternoons, so I thought, after cookie-and-milk time, but before nap time, the employees would move their keyboards out of the way and put a TinyTike™ brand steering wheel, with accompanying squeak horn, on their desk and pretend to drive while making “vroom, vroom” noises. This was not the case. I walked around, puzzled, as I watched some of the employees putting on makeup in their mirrors. There were a few mirrors with various country-state flags hanging from them, a few with mardi-gras beads and one with a CD. Then it dawned on me: perhaps the rear-view mirrors exist to help some cubicle-dwelling inhabitants make sense of their world. Perhaps, in an attempt at increasing self-esteem, some workers get those mirrors that make everything look bigger: nothing makes you feel slim and trim like a coworker standing behind you in a cubicle, looking very much like an overweight Sumo wrestler or a Massachusetts senator. Perhaps some workers install genuine automotive mirrors so that they can make fun of their co-workers: when a balding co-worker comes on the scene, they can flip the mirror over to the night setting. Most will tell you that they just want to know if someone is standing behind them, but I don’t buy it. Most people have rear-view mirrors that they don’t bother to use in their cars, so why would I believe that they are using them in an “official” capacity at work? Whatever their twisted reasoning may be, the cubicle rear-view mirror is one of the creepiest things that exists in the office.
March 25, 2008
View from the Cubicle