Cubicles: A Novel

Cubicles: A Novel

3.6 8
by Camika Spencer
     
 

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Old secrets make office politics spiral out of control in this latest novel from bestselling author Camika Spencer.

The sparks that fly at Meridian Southwest are enough to ignite the tempers of even the most dedicated professionals. Margaret is about to retire from the company, Faulkner is an up-and-comer thirsty for a promotion, and Joyce is a

Overview

Old secrets make office politics spiral out of control in this latest novel from bestselling author Camika Spencer.

The sparks that fly at Meridian Southwest are enough to ignite the tempers of even the most dedicated professionals. Margaret is about to retire from the company, Faulkner is an up-and-comer thirsty for a promotion, and Joyce is a domineering but sexy middle-aged woman about to grab her spot at the top of the ladder. They lead very different lives. But now something strange is going on, and suddenly Margaret, Faulkner, and Joyce are unexpectedly drawn together as a tangled web woven decades earlier begins to unravel.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375759215
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/09/2003
Series:
Strivers Row Series
Edition description:
First Strivers Row Trade Paperback Editi
Pages:
260
Product dimensions:
5.18(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.59(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

INTERNAL JOB POSTING

Job Type:Corporate Services Adjustment

Company:Meridian Southwest / Downtown Office

Job Title:Manager, Customer Operations

Salary:55K

Contact:Joyce Armstrong FAX 972-555-6611 Mail Slot: 12B/8th Floor

Duties:Manage and implement all programs designed to enhance employee productivity, communications, and operations quality. This includes training, scheduling, creating, and implementing such operations. 20% travel. Must have advanced communications and negotiation skills, teamwork ability, must be time-oriented, and able to accurately document implementation and progress.

Requirements:Bachelor’s degree in Communications or Business preferred. Science and Administration majors applicable. Two-year minimum experience in high-end customer relations or equivalency. DRISCOLL, Excel, Outlook, and ACIS experience needed.

Faulkner

Meridian Southwest Telephone, how can I help you today?”

“Is this Faulkner Lorraine?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Well, Faulkner Lorraine, we spoke earlier and I need my phone service turned back on right now! I can’t wait a minute longer.”

“Can I have your first and last name, please?”

“Don’t play games with me! This is Jonnie Coleman. Y’all know me by now!”

“Mrs. Coleman, may I please have your account number?”

“Two-one-four, five-five-five, twenty-seven-forty-three.”

“Can you verify your address?”

“It’s the same address that it was when I called you people an hour ago. Twenty-six-seventeenBanneker Lane.”

“Mrs. Coleman, according to your account, you have an unpaid balance of three hundred—”

“Kiss my ass. I don’t owe you people nothin’! I paid my bill!”

“Mrs. Coleman, it shows here that we have not received a payment from you in three months. The computer records indicate you have been given two extensions and the—”

“You is a goddamned lie! Them computers don’t know nothing but zeros and ones. I sent a payment two weeks ago! I remember because I used one of them stamps with Mary Bethune on it. I mailed it in, so you musta lost it.”

“Mrs. Coleman, we need proof of payment before we can reactivate your service. Can you provide a check stub or confirmation number?”

“You think I have time to be hunting down those check stubs and running back to this pay phone? I don’t have no car! Why don’t you come and pick me up since you want to help me so much! All I want is for my goddamned phone to be turned on!”

“Mrs. Coleman, your service will not be reactivated until the balance on the account is paid.”

“The phone company gon’ make me come down there and hurt somebody, that’s what this is boiling down to, an ass kicking.”

“Mrs. Coleman, if you continue to use offensive language, I will have to terminate this call.”

“You black bitch. I don’t care what the hell you do—”

Click!

That was the fourth time today I’d given Mrs. Coleman the uncut version of Mr. Dial Tone. It was never a desire of mine to hang up on her, but each time she called, that’s how it usually ended, as if she wouldn’t have it any other way. Earlier today, she called me a “skank ho” before I pressed the wrap-up button on the phone and disconnected her call. I didn’t even know what part of a ho the skank was, but coming from Mrs. Coleman, I knew she wasn’t telling me how much she liked me. I usually kept my cool because even though Mrs. Coleman’s bark seemed worse than her bite, I never doubted that any of our irate customers were one bullet shy of coming up here and creating some tragedy for the evening news. Especially now, with the way the world is. People are losing their jobs left and right, not to mention recession, war, and the not-so-global crises like house fires and child abduction. Too many people are at the end of their ropes, and I’m not trying to give anyone a reason to let go of what little piece of rope they’re holding on to.

I took my ear set off and rubbed my ear to get the blood circulating again. After wondering for a second why I dealt with this madness from day to day, I rolled my chair away from my desk, extended my fingers, balled them as tight as I could into fists and back out again, allowing the tension to escape. I looked at the wooden nameplate on my desk and frowned. Underneath my name were the words “Team Lead.” Sometimes I wished it read “Support Representative,” like it used to. Being promoted isn’t always something to brag about, and today I couldn’t even see the worth in having the position. The back-and-forth episodes with Mrs. Coleman weren’t anything I couldn’t handle, but they quickly got old. I mean, I’d been with the Conflict Resolution Department of the phone company for four years, and dealing with customers like Mrs. Coleman was the absolute worst part of the job, not to mention having to deal with that drama while being cramped in a three-sided workspace the size of a compact car all day. I don’t know whose bright idea it was to increase workspace by creating cubicles, but he obviously still had an office. Don’t misunderstand me—the people here were great, the benefits wonderful, and I enjoyed what I did, for the most part. I’d been Team Lead for two years, with the company five years, and I was looking to move up into management soon, but sometimes, it just didn’t seem worth it. There were days when the idea of putting my belongings into a box and walking straight out of here was so overwhelming, I had to get up and take a walk just to tell myself that I was here for a reason and that my bills wouldn’t stop coming just because I’d quit a decent job. It was the frustration of dealing with customers who try to curse and back-talk their way out of an overdue bill that pained me, because I knew that my team and I were hired to take all the shit that comes with a person who is mad because his phone has been disconnected, not connected soon enough, or who’s been overcharged on his bill. We handled the absolute worst accounts the phone company had, both business and residential. If people wouldn’t pay, didn’t pay, couldn’t pay, hated to pay, or paid late, they dealt with us. Sometimes it was like telecommunications Vietnam around here, but the six of us got the job done. Gail Perez, Brenda Jones, James Hardy, Carmen Estrada, Margaret Eddye, and I were the people who made up the Meridian Southwest Conflict Resolution Team. What the customers didn’t seem to understand was that we were held personally responsible for everything that went into our computer systems, and all the yelling and cursing in the world weren’t going to sway things from our point of view if they weren’t presented in the form of a cashier’s check, money order, or cash. Sure, if it was our mistake then it was all good. What customer was going to call back if his bill was a few dollars short or if he wasn’t charged a reconnect fee? But when it was his fault then all hell broke loose and we were the ones in the trenches defending a billion-dollar enterprise against the common man.

I could only guess what mean, bitter Mrs. Coleman did with her money to keep from settling her account. Maybe she had a gambling problem and was spending her social security checks on casino boats down in Louisiana. I let my mind wander, like I do about so many of our customers, and began to imagine where she lived and what she did all day besides call the phone company. West Dallas, maybe? There were some suspect spots on the west side, but maybe she lived on the south side. Hell, she could even have been in those run-down apartments I saw along Gaston Street, headed into one of the wealthier areas in East Dallas. I imagined her as a small-framed old woman with leathery, dark skin surrounding squinty eyes, yellowed and dull from years of cigarette smoke and late-night socializing at the club. She’d be the type of woman who wore her hair pulled back in a gelled-down, why-even-try-it pigtail. One thing I didn’t have to wonder about was the way she spoke. When she talked, her grammar was broken and devoid of any sign that she’d ever paid any attention in school as a child. I figured she was one of those women who spent her time not wondering where she’d gone wrong, but rather blaming everyone but herself for any of her disappointments. Or she could easily be a woman who was simply trying to make ends meet and kept coming up short. I decided that it didn’t matter where she lived, because Mrs. Coleman could very well be a wealthy woman who simply was not paying her bill. Maybe she called and yelled because that was the only way she knew how to express herself. Maybe she was lonely, and found a connection in the relationship she had with us, regardless if it seemed like a backward form of adoration. She knew us each by name. She knew our voices, even if one of us was feeling under the weather. Sometimes, if she called enough, she could tell who was absent. The funny thing was that it was no secret we tolerated her more than we should. Maybe we enjoyed it in some strange, Whitney Houston–Bobby Brown sort of way. Whatever the case, every time she came in on my line, it was the same thing: I asked for her information, she cursed, I threatened to hang up, she cursed more, I disconnected the call while she cursed. And with each episode, I’d have to take five minutes to regroup; ten, in some cases.


Meet the Author

Camika Spencer is the bestselling author of When All Hell Breaks Loose. She holds a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and journalism, has written for Eclipse, The East Texan, and Mosaic, and now writes a monthly column for dallasblack.com. She is currently working on her second stage production and third novel. She lives in Dallas, Texas.

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Cubicles 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book sooooo much because you can see yourself in each character and it really does make you do some soul searching. This book is not like your traditional fictions which is why I like it so much. It did not give you the ending to the ladies situations that you would normally see. It does not turn out how you think it should, or how you are hoping it would. It turns out how life would happen it you were living it. Reading this book makes me want to go find out what other works or art Ms. Spencer has out there!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting and unexpected ending. Couldn't put this book down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and was totally able to relate to the characters and their plight in the working world. Very entertaining.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I kept wanting to know what was going to happen next in lives of these three office women. It keeps you guessing and takes a turn at the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great read. Everyone can relate this this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wrk in a call center in tex and I can relate to this book. I have all of my co-wrkrs reading this book. The characters are sooo real.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!! Camika Spencer is truly a talented writer. I laughed and cried while reading this book. I recommend this to anyone who lives the 'cubicle life'. I could totally relate to a lot of what went on in the book. I have plenty of co-workers like Gail and Joyce.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Cubicles I felt as if I was reading about the office worker¿s that I encounter daily. Faulkner, Joyce and Margaret work in corporate America. Faulkner¿s an everyday person with a few surprises, Joyce is full of wit and Margaret shares a lesson, which allows the reader to enjoy each page. The women in Cubicles do their best to function on a professional level but as in life, things happen and interference steps into your cubicle. Gracefully, Cubicles (Spencer) paints the picture to allow the reader to view the office they encounter day to day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
THIS WAS MY FIRST TIME READING ANYTHING BY THIS AUTHOR. I FOUND THE BOOK TO BE VERY INTERESTING. I LOVED THE MAIN CHARACTER FAULKNER. FAULKNER IS A VERY SMART AND STRONG WILL YOUNG LADY. SHE IS HARD WORKING AND VERY CAREER MINDED TRYING TO CLIMB THE CORPORATE LADDER. BUT THE CHARACTER JOYCE, WHO IS FAULKNER'S BOSS, IS ANOTHER STORY. SHE IS CLIMBING THE CORPORATE LADDER BUT DOING SO BY SLEEPING WITH ALL OF HER BOSSES. THE ONLY THING ABOUT THIS BOOK WAS THAT I WISHED THE AUTHOR HAD SPENT A LITTLE BIT MORE TIME ON DEVELOPING THE BOND WITH MARGARET AND FAULKNER. YOU CAN SEE THE CLOSENESS BUT YOU WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT GOT THEM TO THAT POINT. ESPECIALLY SINCE FAULKNER'S MOTHER IS IN HER LIFE. BUT OVER ALL THIS IS AN EXCELLENT BOOK TO READ. AND BELIEVE ME YOU WILL DEFINETLY BE ABLE TO RELATE TO THIS BOOK. THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT SO ENJOYABLE, BECAUSE IT'S NOT FAR FETCH, BUT RIGHT ON KEY.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The beginning of this book was slow and as soon as it caught my attention, the action happened so briefly and suddenly that the book was over not having quenched my curiosity. Camika C. Spencer left several questions unanswered regarding the characters in this novel. Not as developed as I would have appreciated, Faulkner, Joyce, and Margaret were great central characters, however there was a relationship between the three ladies that was not clearly developed. I could understand the history of the relationships between Joyce and Margaret, and Joyce and Faulkner, however the relationship between Margaret and Faulkner was not clearly developed only stated. I loved the irony created in the character of Joyce, this character was brilliantly developed, but poorly ended. The great strategist simply gave up without a fight. Faulkner and Margaret were a predictable characters. I could imagine their ending as soon as Spencer set the plot in place. The short chapters disrupted the flow of the book. There was one chapter regarding Margaret that was out of sequence that runied the ending. I would have liked for Spencer to have taken more time to complete this book before publishing. I would like to try more of Spencer's work, hoping that she can expand on a great story line by pulling the reader's deeper into the characters creating a little intrigue and surprise in the endings. This is a nice book to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Ms. Spencer is a great author and I love both her books. A must read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
talk about drama going on in the work place. this is very common among women working in the professional field.This book has more Drama in it than the daytime soaps!! i really ejoyed this story, from start to finish.this story is based on 3 women .Joyce, Faulkner, margret. i love the character faulkner, because she was a strong woman with a backbone and took her job very serious. she was a hard worker and highly respected. margret was the the work place mother, she was welled liked by her Co-workers, but do to various health problems which lead to poor health she had started to consider Retiring from her job, but before she could do so tragic struck. last but not lease there was joyce Armstrong, thinking she was better than everyone else , walking around intimidating people, backstabbing and sleeping around to reach the stairway of the corporate ladder. but oh!! did the ladder fall on her in the end. everyone that she mistreated, she ended up making amends with, allowing herself to be used sexuallly in Exchange for an executive position. in the end joyce was bought back down to earth. she came in like a lion, and went out like a lamb...This is a must read!!!