The Incredible Shrinking Office

Maybe you've recently been laid off ... or perhaps your parting of ways with your former employer is not so recent, and you're still doggedly out pounding the pavement, rejiggering your résumé, and search-search-searching for a job.

I know how you feel. I've been there too. It stinks.

But this post is not about that, nor about how to get a job. (We'll save those topics for another time.)

This post is about something called schadenfreude. Which is, in essence, a feeling of joy based on the misfortune of others. (See Avenue Q for a definition set to music.)

I'm sure you're thinking: How can this schaden-thing possibly apply to me? I'm the one without a job! I'm the one with the misfortune!

Well, no, not exactly. Because in this time of company and staff and job downsizing, they're also downsizing cubicles.

Remember that teeny little box you had to sit in back when you had a job? The one that barely had enough room for your computer monitor, keyboard, mousepad, and a tiny cup of bad office coffee? The one with the awkward wall height that revealed your neighbor's ill-groomed eyebrows but nothing below, and did not drown out the sounds of him/her smacking noisily on leftovers from the conference room one iota?

That little cube is about to get smaller, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Now, I understand the need to scrimp and save and make ends meet, but really, whose ingenious idea was this? Imagine having to sit in one of those "cubinis" every day and respect yourself in the morning. And if anyone's on the verge of going postal, well...Not good.

Meanwhile, you, my friend, are safely and comfortably ensconced in your own home and/or home office, or at least plopped in your most comfortable chair, without the walls closing in like a scene from Star Wars.

Don't you feel better?

Jen Doll is a former magazine editor and a current writer, blogger, editor, and odd-jobs-person in New York City. You can find more from her at and

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