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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: First World Problem (04/17/14)

TITLE: My Side of the Wall
By Gracie Sparks


Leonard is eating tuna for lunch…again. Right now, the odor emanating from his cubicle is pungent enough to insult even the most resilient of nostrils. Don’t get me wrong; I definitely value a delectable seafood dish as much as the next gal, but I’ve been tolerating this less-than-pleasant whiff since 8:30 a.m. This taunting and torturing of my olfactory senses is just one of many inconveniences that come with working in the close quarters of a cube environment.

Just this morning, even before I could settle at my work station, I was greeted by Harry’s insanely annoying throat clearing–you know the kind that even ear plugs do little to block. Harry, like a white-haired professor, decided to engage in excessive morning chit-chat while expelling mucus from his gullet. I listened, for what seemed like an eternity, about topics of no interest to me. Even my pretending to be engrossed in a spreadsheet was not enough to indicate to my lingering colleague that this conversation was over. He just rambled and spoke nonsense about everything from how the autocorrect on his new tablet keeps incorrectly correcting him to how his brand-new square water bottle won’t fit into his round cup holder.

As if Harry’s unannounced visit wasn’t enough to whip my day into pure frenzy, I also spent the better half of morning becoming intimately acquainted with the details Teresa’s personal life. Teresa, the tall, brown-skinned brunette in the cubicle to my right, walks with a shy, somewhat awkward elegance and often carries a melancholy gaze. Despite company policy, she somehow manages to spend the bulk of her day on “private” phone calls that are usually anything but that. Earlier I overheard her expressing her annoyance over the fact that she can’t use any of her sick days because she’s always, “too healthy.”

Obviously my coworkers have been hit with a serious case of first world problems, and Betsy was no exception. The seemingly oblivious woman who sits cattycorner to me was obviously absent the day her grade-school teacher taught the class how to use an inside voice, because she speaks with enough decibels to drown out an AC/DC concert. Her relentless coughing, sneezing and sniffing are enough to drive me up the nearest wall; couple that with her persistent whining of how she has to wake up at 5am tomorrow in order to catch her flight to Tahiti, and there’s suddenly enough to send anyone over the edge.

Each day I find myself immersed in the chaos that travels over these 4 ½ foot partitions and falls on my side of the wall. And for those 8 ½ hours, when everything within me wants to think, do, and say something a growing Christian like myself should neither think, do, nor say, I simply glance over at the reminder perfectly situated on the bottom of my computer monitor which reads…

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

I keep in mind that by allowing peace to reign, even if only on my side of the wall, I’m ultimately honoring Him. This reminder gives me the patience I need to settle my nerves and the strength I need to tolerate a little more… even the horrid scent of the tuna sandwich coming from the cubicle to my left.

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This article has been read 593 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 04/24/14
Hahahahahahahaha! This was so good! I loved it. The many problems of "office" colleagues can be daunting to say the very least. I've been fortunate to have worked my whole career in the nursing home industry, so I was never in a "closed quarters" situation...but empathize with those who do. My husband is one of them and often tells me about the annoying 'smell' of tuna and egg salad wafting over his partition! LOL.

This was excellent, on topic, and so profoundly clever...it will definitely catch the attention of the judges.

WEll done.

God bless~
Keith Henry III 04/24/14
What a well written story and on point. Good luck and God bless, keep writing.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/24/14
I think you did a brilliant job with this. You definitely showed the reader what the topic is all about. I love the subtle irony where even working in a cubicle and having put up with others but still being blessed by having a job no matter what. You really did a great job in hitting the message home and allowing the reader to see herself in your story. I enjoyed it from beginning to end.
Linda Buskirk04/28/14
Very cleverly written. You took on the topic directly, and crafted a direct hit!
Charla Diehl 04/28/14
You did a terrific job of describing a normal work day while sharing space with diverse individuals. You made me smile, cringe and feel for your MC--and that's good writing. I hope the judge's will give this one a nod and I'll expect to see you graduating to the next level soon.
C D Swanson 05/01/14

I wish to extend a big Congratulations on your well deserved win! I loved this piece, phenomenal writing style, and story.

Keep shining His light.

God bless~
Charla Diehl 05/01/14
I'm so glad to see this in first place for your level--big applause for you! I knew the judges would notice this one. I'll look forward to reading more of your work.
Tracy Nunes 05/02/14
Congratulations Grace! A well deserved win.