Death By Cubicle

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A Guest Post By Steve Roy

As I drag myself out of bed for yet another unproductive, unfulfilling day, I have to wonder when it will all end. How long will it be before I can walk out of my prison cell for the last time? Each day is worse than the previous because it’s one more day I have wasted locked up. One more day stolen from me, one that I will never get back. Of course, it wasn’t always like this.

Rewind 9 years…

The year was 2002 and the thoughts of being a big time stock broker filled my head. Life was going to be great and I was going to be massively successful in the cut throat world of high finance. Or so I thought…

With absolutely no background in finance (I didn’t even know what a stock was), I made the decision to make it my career. It was the farthest thing from a well thought out plan, but I did know that I didn’t want to keep doing what I had been doing, which was bartending.

So, with my mind made up, I moved from Colorado to Maryland and started my pursuit of my newfound dream. One month and 5 interviews later, I had a job as a junior broker for a bank brokerage firm. Step 1 complete!

The Beginning Of The End

It didn’t take me long to discover that the glamorous world of being a stock broker is not all it’s cracked up to be. Far from it.

Instead of talking with institutional investors looking to buy millions of dollars worth of bonds, I was talking to Joe Dirt who has $1,000 to his name. Instead of having a corner office overlooking the trading floor, I was given a tiny cubicle with no view.

The next realization I had was that the work was incredible boring. Sitting in 6X6 cubicle all day and calling sales leads is surprisingly not fun. The job, coupled with a branch manager who chose to see us all as numbers rather than people, began to suck and suck hard.

Fast forward 2 years. I was still in the same cubicle, making the same amount of money, and 10X more miserable. What’s a guy to do? This is my dream after all, right?

As luck would have it, my partner and I received an offer to work for the gold standard of investment firms, Merrill Lynch. We took the offer and moved our practice within the month.

Hell, Part 2

At first glance, Merrill was THE place to work. Lush offices with mahogany furniture, glass enclosed offices, and a company paid assistant. Life was going to be good now!

As it turned out, Merrill was a company filled with super sized egos and not much else. I was immediately disappointed by what I found. The sea of navy blue suits and red power ties that was Merrill had me questioning my move there and for the first time, I began to think that maybe this job wasn’t for me.

How could that be though? I was good at it, I had the opportunity to become wealthy, and it was prestigious. At least I thought it was.

The Next Move

This is where things went from ugly to hideous. I moved to a new house and to another firm, leaving my partner of 5 years behind, and took the job I currently have. At this point, I knew this wasn’t something I really wanted to do, but I had just purchased a home and I needed a steady job. Big mistake!

At the time I took this job in 2007, I was not very happy with the way my career was going. I thought by taking on a new role with this firm that things would be different. And they were. Unfortunately, different equals bad in my case.

The job itself is boring to the point of nauseousness and my boss is a cross between Herman Munster and Data from Star Trek. It’s not going well for me.

Life has turned from a once happy place filled with adventure, enjoyment, and contentment to one filled with despair, resentment, and anger.

The Solution

The obvious solution is to quit, right? Not so fast. In a different time in my life, of course I would be gone in a second, but things are much more complicated now.

Enter a non-working wife, 2 small children, a mortgage we can barely afford, and 9 years of financial services experience. The end result is too many expenses and barely enough money.

Walking away from a field that I have so much time and energy invested in is not easy and would mean a guaranteed reduction in income. A reduction that we cannot afford to take.

Enter the trap. With looming debt and only a long-term plan to get out of my job, things do not look so bright and cheery for me at present. Although every day is one step closer to my goal of quitting, it is also one more day that I have flushed down the proverbial toilet.

The day will come when I break free from this black hole in my life known as my job but until then, it will slowly suck the life out of me.


Read More Stories > GO

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“Things do not change; we change.” — Thoreau

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Writer’s Bio: Steve is the owner of EndingTheGrind.com, a blog about escaping the daily grind of a 9 to 5 job, building an online business, and living your passions. You can also find him on Twitter.

Leave a Comment

  • Tijmen May 25, 2011 at 6:34 am edit

    I’m in a way in the same situation, I hate my job as well. And different kind of events have prevented me from quiting so far. When I first realised I ended up in a very toxic and hostile environment at work, I thought I would leave at the end of the year, but one year became 2, and 2 years became 3.

    When I realised it was actually the stress that kept making me sick and preventing me from starting my own business on the side. Things got easier, I will fly to Asia in September and start working on my own things, hopefully never having to return to an office again, other my own :)

    I have don’t have any childeren or mortage I have to take care, of so that does make it a lot easier. But I still wonder, looking back at my current job how on earth I survived for so long. I was trapped in that job for different reasons, surgery and other health issues prevented me from quiting. The time has now finally arrived to resign :)

    Hope you will find a way to leave your job quickly.

    Reply
    • Steve Roy May 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm edit

      Tijmen,
      Awesome to hear that you are traveling and starting your own thing. Work stress can be a killer. so finding an outlet is critical.

      I have to remind myself every day why I’m still at my job. Knowing that it’s not permanent is what keeps me sane…

      Reply
  • jade May 25, 2011 at 7:19 am edit

    I can really relate to this- the plush offices sound so appealing at first! And then they take your soul day by day! Good luck taking the next step- and hopefully it will be sooner rather than later!

    Reply
  • Lois May 25, 2011 at 10:07 am edit

    I know exactly how it feels when you’re at your desk looking outside the window of your prison. That’s why we at Sole Sisters, decided to get our lives back by quitting our 9-5 jobs. 5 months later, we are traveling full time and living the dream. But the journey to becoming location independent hasn’t ended yet. Thanks for sharing blogs and stories like these that fuel our passion!

    Reply
  • Benjamin May 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm edit

    This is the story of my life. :-(

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche May 25, 2011 at 2:18 pm edit

      :( x 100

      Reply
    • Steve Roy May 25, 2011 at 2:33 pm edit

      Benjamin,
      Unfortunately, I hear this waaaay too often. That’s exactly why I started my blog. Life doesn not need to be like this but we have to make a change and break out of the mindset that we have to do it.

      Please don’t accept your job as your fate. It’s a lifetime subscription to mediocraty.

      Reply
      • Benjamin June 3, 2011 at 5:45 pm edit

        The sad thing is that I don’t even know what I’d do if I could get away from my job and do something on my own. Even once I figure it out, I have no money to aid me in the transition. I have felt trapped for so long that it is hard for me to stay focused on finding a way out.

        Reply
  • BethanyBob May 25, 2011 at 3:36 pm edit

    … Wait, where’s the inspirational happy ending?

    There is hope for us, right?

    But I don’t WANT to work in retail forever! T__T

    Reply
  • Debbie Beardsley May 25, 2011 at 5:11 pm edit

    Unfortunately this isn’t just Steve’s story! There are a lot of us out there who are in the same situation. It is a frustrating circle and one that is very hard to get out of.

    I appreciate stories like these because it helps me get perspective and figure a way to a better spot in life :) Hope you’ll find your way soon.

    Reply
    • Steve Roy May 25, 2011 at 6:12 pm edit

      Hey Debbie,
      Glad to see you here as well, this site is awesome!

      I know my story resonates with millions of people and it sucks. I wish we all were pursuing our dreams and passions but the reality is that most people will spend their whole life doing exactly what they don’t want.

      Reply
  • Cordelia May 25, 2011 at 5:33 pm edit

    Oh boy, did your post got me right in the gut! I struggle with the exact same resentment for every day, every hour, every minute of my life that’s sucked up by a job I care nothing for.

    You’d think that knowing you’re on your way out, that an end is in sight, would make it easier to handle–and some days it is. But most days it just makes things all that much harder because now that I’ve realized I need to escape, every day I’m still stuck here is that much harder. If it weren’t for my own obligations, I’d have quit months ago and just taken what life threw at me.

    But, the good news is that we’re taking the steps to get free, even if those steps aren’t happening nearly as fast as we’d like. I’m glad I connected with you and your site–it’s going to be a huge help for me in my own efforts to break free.

    Reply
    • Steve Roy May 25, 2011 at 6:24 pm edit

      Hey Cordelia,

      Having your goal in mind is certainly very important, but you’re right, often it isn’t enough to keep us from falling into despair.

      I have many bad days even though I am working very hard at digging my way out of this soul sucking job.

      I am sincerely hoping you get everything you want out of your life!

      Reply
  • Kim May 26, 2011 at 3:44 am edit

    Good luck Steve! You’ll get there!

    Reply
  • Toni May 31, 2011 at 8:10 pm edit

    Nothing left to say apart from ‘Amen to THAT’. I’m trapped in a cubicle for at least another 2 years until I can escape; a little bit of my soul died every day I’m there.

    Reply
    • Steve Roy June 3, 2011 at 6:13 pm edit

      Toni,
      It’s sad to hear that. Two years is a long time so you need to have some goals set. What are you going to do when you quit?

      I feel your pain and I know exactly what it’s like to feel a bit of your soul dying. Just remember, it’s temporary!

      Reply
      • Bill November 7, 2013 at 12:02 am edit

        The same goes for me though my hell is in an insurance brokerage firm. I took the same route. Got a Bachelor of Science in Finance studied my butt off and graduated Magna Cum Laude and ended up in misery. In retrospect I should have been in the trades since I am very handy but at 49 it is hard to re-invent yourself. I was also diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2012 and I know a lot it was brought on by stress. I still feel lucky though that I can continue to work and make a living. Things can always be worse. Good Luck to Everyone!

        Reply
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  • Evin January 7, 2014 at 10:44 pm edit

    I’m right there with everyone. I HATE coming to my boring, cubicle job. I feel as if it sucks the life out of me. The only time I feel good is when I’m not here. Sundays are hard for me because I know I have to come back to the cube farm the next day. I’m not sure what else to do but I know it’s not this.

    Reply