Spring Cleaning – My Cubicle


I recently moved into a new cubicle at work. When I say recent, I really mean 3 months ago. I packed up my old desk into 2 boxes (down from 4 boxes a couple of years ago). When I got to my new desk, I only needed to unpack 1 of those boxes. The other box has sat unopened on my cubicle floor. Yesterday, I decided to go through it.

Before my riveting and exciting story goes further, let me tell you about my job. I am a software engineer. I have worked for a defense contractor for the past 10 years, designing, implementing and testing software. When I talk about my cubicle, it is (or was) my home away from home. I say was because after I had my baby, I only went back to work 3 days a week, Monday through Wednesday. That’s a great schedule, if you can get it. Anyway, I sit at my desk in front of a computer all day long, typing and reading and typing and thinking and typing. I’m a really good typist. By definition, my job means that I’m working digitally and not with paper. So, how did I accumulate so much paper?

Back to that unopened box. Inside were pages and pages of printed paper from a previous project. After removing everything from its folder and taking out the staples, I’m embarrassed to admit that the stack of paper was 10 inches high. Even worse, the project it was generated from was terminated 3 years ago, which means that every piece of paper in that pile no longer had any value.

The scary thought is that at a company that employs tens of thousands of people, I’m not the only person that has printed that many documents. How can we live in a digital age and still need to print? It isn’t as if any of this paper was required to be maintained as hard copy. The most common response as to why people print at work is probably because it is easier to read. How can we sit in front of a computer all day long only to claim that it is easier to ready printed copies?

I will say that I haven’t printed that much paper for 3 years. In fact, I never print anything for work anymore. I review everything in its digital form. I know that few of my co-workers can claim the same thing, as evidenced by the boxes of paper sitting next to the printer. At least, the printer doesn’t run all day long. I can only hope that someday we’ll live in a world where printers sit dusty and archaic in the corner.

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