Surviving The Matrix: Year One

Surviving The Matrix: Year One

A year ago today, I left my new house with a bag lunch in my hand, dorktastic clothes on my body, 10-year-old dress shoes on my feet and a massive knot in my stomach. After years of building a career on my own terms, I was, at age 40, taking an unwanted but necessary detour into Corporate America, where I would earn a living as a sunlight-deprived, business-casual-wearing, cubicle-dwelling web developer.

It’s not easy to pretend you’re Mr. Anderson when you know you’re really Neo.

It took a while before I stopped having anxiety attacks at my new job — anxiety brought on by the realization that I had no fucking clue how to do what it was I’d been hired to do, as well as a suffocating fear that, after years of eluding capture, I would now spend the rest of my life plugged into The Matrix.

Many weeks passed before I felt comfortable enough in my new environment to do anything other than job-related work on my computer. Paying bills online, reading and commenting on blogs, writing for my own blog … suddenly, all of that no longer was a part of my work day. I felt like a claustrophobic rat trapped in a cage. A small cage. With no sunlight. Some might even call it a cubicle.

A year later, things are better. For starters, it turns out I apparently do have a fucking clue how to do what it was I was hired to do, and have managed to do it well enough that my boss slipped me a surprise bonus last week. Does that make me feel any better about being trapped in The Matrix? In a word: No … but it does make it easier to endure this gig while I plot my escape.

To that end, the blog is back in action, and, whenever possible, I’m reading, writing and commenting from behind enemy lines — and based on the aforementioned bonus, I’m managing to do so while simultaneously keeping my corporate overlords happy.

But rest assured: It’s only a matter of time before I kung-fu my way out of this bitch.

There is no spoon.

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  1. Posted September 21, 2011 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    one word: awesome!
    Sunday´s most recent blog post: Me vs. DebtMy Profile

  2. heidig
    Posted September 21, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Congrats on the bonus! And if it makes you feel any better, my cubicle is located in the basement surrounded by concrete into which not a speck of light shines.

  3. Posted September 21, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Glad to hear things are improving. Clearly, you need to spend that bonus on a flight to Austin in March!
    the muskrat´s most recent blog post: specialMy Profile

  4. Posted September 21, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Awesome sauce on the bonus.

    Being a fellow slave to the man, I know that even though the dollar sign and a few zeros in your face is pretty awesome at that moment, you know it will never be enough to recover that part of your soul that is gone forever.

    Man I need a new job.
    Wannabe Housewife´s most recent blog post: Oh The Places You Will GoMy Profile

  5. Susan
    Posted September 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Um…better to plot silently.

  6. Amy
    Posted September 22, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Good luck! Although you probably already know this, beware of workplace spyware in regards to personal matters on work time. Most companies use spyware and keystroke loggers…

    Sorry you had to choose the red pill.
    Amy´s most recent blog post: The Cherry On Top Of A Whipped-Shit Sundae DayMy Profile

  7. Posted September 22, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Great. Really great. I’m glad you found me. If you figure out how to get out of this mess, please let me know. I’ll be joining you. Whether you want that or not.
    wagthedad´s most recent blog post: Why Is Prostitution Illegal?My Profile

  8. Posted September 22, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    You made it a year! Yay?

    I’ve been stuck in this particular cubicle-hell for ten years; three of which were unbearable, seven of which not so bad. But still….

    So…let me know when we are making the break! Otherwise, I’m left counting on hitting the lottery. And so far, that isn’t working.
    Gigi´s most recent blog post: Senior Parent Night (or OH MY HELL! Really?!)My Profile

  9. Posted September 22, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    I was forcibly ejected from my cozy cubby when the company downsized and sent all our jobs to LA……. I had been there 20 years. I was one of the pre-computer-started-on-a-drawing-board dinosaurs . After the rubble cleared I stood up, shook my fist and decided NEVER to work in a box again…. The freedom is great, the money and lack of health insurance…not so great!

  10. Posted September 23, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    –>I share an office and do web work all day long. The lack of daylight takes its toll for sure.

    Congrats on the bonus!

    WebSavvyMom´s most recent blog post: Flashback Friday (part 82) – R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe Tried to Poke Me in the EyeMy Profile

  11. Posted September 23, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    My advice: get a job at a University. It’s somewhat corporate like, but overall, a lot messier around the edges. There are benefits, and a pension plan. But, the place is generally pretty loosely managed, cubicles exist but are rarer, and most importantly–the “bottom line” is much harder to identify and on a far longer time horizon. This makes a two hour lunch a lot easier to achieve on a regular basis.
    Team Suzanne´s most recent blog post: On BullshitMy Profile

  12. Posted September 23, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Ok I finally made it over here from Telling Dad and I have to comment on the very first post I read!
    I was cubicle and boss-free for 25 years after college despite repeated attempts by my husband and in laws to force jobs on me I didn’t want because “they have benefits!” I did everything I could do to avoid using my business degree. I raised my kids and did daycare, I worked our family businesses. I was my own boss, called my hours, I loved it. But we struggled financially the whole time since my husband also didn’t want cubicle jobs. Finally I caved and took a job as a transporter for the county social services department. I am on the road a lot but when I am not, I am stuck in the dungeon with no windows and no air and no light with lots of mind numbing rules and I am choking to death on it all. The first six months I HATED going to work. Then I got so I only disliked it. Now, it’s ok as long as I can drive somewhere, anywhere! It’s the bosses and the rules and the environment that are so freaking mind numbing. The clients I actually like lol. When trips get cancelled and our day is doomed inside, we transporters practically sob tears of despair.
    I have spent nearly 8 years here but the last 4 have involved looking for other employment on a regular basis….not having much luck with that obviously.
    I hate not being my own boss and working so many hours and the rules are incredibly dumb (said rules apply only to some and not all). The best part of this is when I look at my paycheck and can go to the doctor and dentist and not freak out after seeing the bill.
    We are not built to sit in windowless, airless, stifling boxes pushing papers all day! I don’t know how people here have spent 40 years doing the same jobs over and over until retirement. O…M…G…
    Anyhow, I feel your pain, man. I hope your find your escape route soon! Love this, “It’s only a matter of time before I kung-fu my way out of this bitch.” Yes!!
    heartlightdg´s most recent blog post: Eye on the SparrowMy Profile

  13. Posted September 25, 2011 at 6:14 am | Permalink


    New reader here. Just wanted to say I like what I have read so far, very real. (As opposed to what– ” a little bit real” or “kinda real” or “normal real.”)

    Anyway, I am giving you the Vesatile Blogger shout-out, which is, like, the TOP-TOP-TOP blogger award you can get (well, maybe not TOP-TOP, but still up there). You just nominate a couple of other bloggers that you think are awesome and that is it. The royalty checks start rolling in! (Okay, not really. *Disclaimer: There will be no royalty checks. The mention of the term “royalty checks” was purely intended for comedic effect, and not intended to be taken literally. Like the phrase “raining cats and dogs.” There are no Labradors in the sky. Usually.)

    And oh, yeah, I may have mentioned you over on my blog.


  14. Cg
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    18 years of fluorescent lights have sucked the life out of me. Using a time clock every day, in a uniform (Japanese auto co). I went to an expensive college, and maybe one day, I’ll gave my name on a door, and not on my shirt. But at least I have a pension, right? I tell myself this every morning when my alarm goes off at 4:45.

  15. Posted September 26, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    I like your official first day of work “school picture”. I’m sure that bonus takes the sting out of the heinous lighting they insist on in cubicle land.
    Meg at the Members Lounge´s most recent blog post: Willpower. Do You Have It?My Profile

  16. Posted September 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    This is my first visit and love it! (I referenced the Matrix in my last post!) Sadly I am not “trapped” in corporate hell, since I walked in willingly and actually put the chain on my own ankle. But you give me hope. I look forward to reading backwards.
    sars!´s most recent blog post: correspondence or some shitMy Profile

  17. Posted September 28, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Aren’t you excited that now you will get all those “Office Space” jokes and references?
    Allison´s most recent blog post: The World’s Largest Reality CheckMy Profile

  18. Posted September 29, 2011 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Oh man, it’s like you took the words right out of my mouth! I’m always planning to kung-fu my way out of my little repressive cubicle.

    When you’ve figured out how, let me know, ok?
    iampisspot´s most recent blog post: The Black DogMy Profile

  19. Francis
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    OH MY GOD! You could be me or… I could be you! Except I’m female and you’re not. But you are still AWESOME. Thank you for describing my life in cubicle hell so perfectly. Wait. No. I don’t want my life described like that. Damn it. Anyway, Thank you for making me laugh because we all know we need to laugh or we may go postal. Not that I will. I’ll probably just pull an Ashley Judd in “Devine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood” but I’ll stay gone for much longer. Yes, I have had a cocktail or two. It’s Friday night and I spent another week in corporate cubicle hell. FML.

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