They come out of nowhere. Snapping the silence so fast, you can’t hide your secrets.
They’re out of the bathroom. Printing papers. Eating snacks off the 15th floor, where the vending machines sit.
That moment you hear the door squeak, you’re typing. Off that news website. Putting your credit card away. (This is no time to purchase marked-down skirts at Target.)
Most of them — the walkers, as you like to call them — are harmless. Engrossed in their own world. Thinking about the 11:45 a.m. meeting on the 9th floor; the CT scan that somehow went to collections; Pornography. Whatever. It doesn’t matter.
You simply look forward. Shoulders back. Breathing steady. Typing numbers in a spreadsheet. Seven in one column and 7 in another column. Those numbers mean nothing and do not equal 83, but you just like that number so it’s going in the third column.
And remember, at all times, even those that seem harmless could be spies. Stay on target. The semi-private spot where your cubicle is stationed is not a reason to lose focus.
Phew. You’re in the clear. Time for a trip to the bathroom and the coffee pot. First, you discretely slide your phone into your coat pocket.
Yes it’s the summer. Yes it’s technically too warm to be wearing a North Face fleece. But in this office, it’s about 65 degrees; One of the joys of letting your brain waste away doing monotonous work is that you’ll always be cool doing it.
Sit on the toilet and make sure your phone’s on silent. It’s time for Angry Birds. And remember to always pick the stall furthest to the left so it’s camouflaged when someone walks in (assuming it’s available). That way, you don’t have to worry about any loitering coworkers while you pretend to take an extra-long shit.
You just died. It’s time to wash your hands and get some coffee.
The coffee is not very good. You once heard it compared to goat’s urine. Even for you, that’s a bit harsh. When mixed with sugar and powdered milk, it has the sweetness of a diet coke that’s been sitting in the sun.
It’s an acquired taste.
Glug, glug, glug. Back to your desk.
One quick check on Facebook, and it’s back to punching in numbers or skimming the company blog.
Who had a baby today? Who got divorced? What cat memes have they come up with now?
You feel a tap on your shoulder. It’s a walker.
One walker who’s so quiet, he’s almost silent in all his moves despite these clunky boots he always wears.
It’s your boss, and he’s right behind you. You quickly switch pages.
Did he see you? Was he looking? Was he really looking? (As in, did what he see register in his brain?) And more so, will he remember? Maybe he also has that meeting, medical bill, or porn on his mind, like everyone else sitting around.)
“Get this back to me end of the day,” he says. “Think you can do that?”
“Yeah, no problem,” you say.
And it seems most of your secrets are safe. At least one more business day.