Office Space, the project not the movie

As part of my job as a project engineer at the Monsanto electronics plant in South Carolina, I also performed facilities tasks.

The plant was growing and hiring more engineers and other technical staff. Providing offices for these additional people proved to be dicey at best. We had to convert what had been a locker room in the plant’s other life as a textile mill, into a room of cubicles, for example. It was my job as the project engineer, given the staffing numbers from the managers, to find space for additional cubes and try to keep the employees in a group together.

I soon discovered there was one other tiny detail: I also had to ensure the total square footage per manager was equal. Let the games begin.

I was appalled as I showed each manager his individual group’s layout and the first questions were always “How many square feet to I have? How many square feet to the others have?” These were grown men, by the way, most in their forties and fifties.

I soon color-coded the plan drawing of the facility, each manager getting his own color. Then I had to add up the square footage for each cube and each area so they could see one had five feet more than the other one.

Then there was the manager, who happened to be mine, who was so conniving and left me with little choice but to add his color to the map in more places so that he was the king of the office space sweepstakes. I was so glad when that project completed.

Of all the politics, and there are a lot of them, I’ve had to contend with over the years, that one has always taken the cake. Don’t argue about the technical aspects of the job, just make sure my pie is always bigger than everyone else’s. I just don’t get that.


About stemzandroses

I'm an engineer and writer with a built-in need to share my nearly 40 years of experience working in a male-dominated field with the rest of the world.
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