Cream – 1. The least offensive and calming color next to white that corporations use to decorate everything in order to keep it from being too bland 2. The result of letting a horribly uninteresting person decide what to paint every surface of an office
For the past few weeks, I have been immersed in corporate culture at a very large firm as a very lowly intern. The work itself is great, and I enjoy it, but it’s the setting that propels me to write some color commentary. Walking into this high rise every day is like leaving Earth for some hyper reality where all surfaces are white or some variation of cream and everyone dresses alike, looking as though they are talking to themselves while walking down the hallway with the smallest and latest Bluetooth headset seemingly surgically attached to their ear.
I am overwhelmed by the blandness of the colors around me and am actually impressed for whoever found so many different shades of white, gray, tan, or cream to “spice up” this office. I look around myself sitting at this cubicle and find it hard to see anything other than cream and other boring, subduing Earth tones apart from the glowing red “EXIT” signs by the door.
At least this place has windows. Well, from where I’m sitting, they are all on the far sides of the floor, so when I peak out over the shallow walls of my cream cubicle I can only see sky and clouds. This is because we are on the 2nd highest floor of the building, but it makes sense that it’s all I see despite that fact. The experience of this eight-hour shift is so disconnected from regular life that it’s only fitting I see just sky and clouds. We are disconnected from the ground, our heads in the clouds, staring at computer screens working on something most of the people on the ground will never know or worry about.
We don’t dress normally and we even have a certain way of communicating, littered with jargon, excessive acronyms, and forced niceties. This is not a consumer business, it is B2B, or in other words, this firm is only here to service other firms’ needs that only exist to service other firms’ needs and so on until some human end is met. We are off the ground, disconnected from the world, and completely surrounded by cream.
One thing I noticed about this cubicle is that someone left a purple strip of cloth pinned on the wall in some sort of intended shape, the last remaining sign of personality or any sort of individual human influence this seat has left here from whoever was in my shoes before.
Even though I’ve only been here for a couple weeks, I’ve seemed to already fall into a little routine. Park the car, greet the guard, awkward elevator ride, and I spill out into the reception area in front of locked glass doors ordained with the company’s giant logo staring at me, mocking me. I swipe my ID on the scanner to unlock the doors temporarily and hear the same piercing beep letting me know I can enter. I feel like one of Pavlov’s dogs, whenever I hear that sound, I know my workday is about to begin and I’m about to get a face full of cream. Then it’s time to hit the break room and get some machine-made coffee doused in cream. I am now drinking cream, forced to stare at cream wherever I go in the office, and am even wearing a cream-colored dress shirt.
Now commences my caffeine-induced work buzz that throws me into a whirlwind of maddening email-checking and typing that seems to crash the same time I finish eating lunch, teaming up with my food coma, and leaving me with a debilitating urge to take a nice nap on the keyboard. Should’ve listened to those terrible 5-Hour Energy commercials. But like I said, I enjoy my actual job since it is a little more creatively driven than mind-numbing busy work which is the saving grace of this robotic place. I sort of despise Hawaiian shirts, but Hawaiian-shirt Friday from Office Space seems very appealing to me right now.