Escape From Cubical Quicksand

by | Aug 16, 2011 | 7 comments

I received this email as part of an application to Information Engineering and Management. I thought it so described what others tell me that I would share it with you. 

Escape From Cubical Quicksand 

It is 5 by 5 feet wide, 5.5 feet in height and the floor feels like quicksand.

It appears that there is no one around to pull me out, so I must take matters into my own hands and figure out a way to escape. It is just a regulation cubical used by hundreds of people every day, but for me, it’s the hole filled with quicksand from which I must escape.  But how?

Idea after idea comes to me but I just cannot seem to come up with a method to make them work.   I feel the quicksand under my feet as it begins to shift and I begin to sink even farther.  I am starting to shake and sweat, I can’t seem to catch my breath, but I will not panic, then suddenly I get this great plan of action, use those God-given gifts and talents as a ladder that’s been there all of the time and climb, climb, climb.   Enhance my tools and skills; more education, better credentials, information, and networking.  Go back to school get a Masters Degree in Information Engineering Management.  Although I previously earned a degree it has not exactly served me well. Unfortunately, I failed to be as aggressive as needed in that pursuit and thereby a subsequent career path in this area failed to manifest itself.  I now find myself in this cubical of quicksand needing an immediate means of escape and this is what has brought me to this specific juncture in life.

I need to obtain the knowledge as to how to market, network, package and be financially and emotionally rewarded as I use my previous education, experience, and skills while affording for new experiences outside of a cubical of quicksand.  Now I ask you, please take my hand help me climb out of the quicksand and then show me the way to personal success and fulfillment as a self-empowered entrepreneur.


Question: How about you? Does this describe your career?

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Dale Callahan

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  1. Ron Ramsey


    Thank you for sharing this email. It’s apparent to me that the author and I are “kindred spirits,” as I feel the same way. For the past year or so, the need to take the next step–professionally speaking–has weighed heavily on my mind. I am ready to “walk through some doors” that IEM will help me to open. Although I do not yet know what the other side of the door looks like, I am optimistic–nay, confident–that it will become clearer over the coming months, and in due time.

  2. jason

    This is my story. For fifteen years I slaved in a cubicle – until finally it clicked I am not going to work my way to the top from the inside. I spent the last year of my cubicle life making a plan and learning things I didn’t yet know about business and money. As if by divine will I found out that my job would be ending this past April. I jumped – I found some friends that had their company going and piggy backed off of them for a few month. Now I am partners in a small company focusing on doing IT work for small businesses. … A friend just this Wednesday remarked that she had known me for six years and this was the first time I ever sounded truly happy!

  3. Dale


  4. Jeff Putt

    I think that this is the story of many people that are currently running the corporate rat race. I can certainly understand where they are coming from. My own situation is not much different than theirs. I am currently riding a cubicle in corporate America and why not. It’s safe and warm and it pays the bills. Well that’s how I used to think until recently. I remember the day that I started to change the way I think. A good friend of mine asked me what my plan was for the rest of my life. I responded by saying I was going to stay here until I retired. He then preceded to hand me a copy of a book that he was holding in his hand. He had set me up. He knew what I was going to say and he came prepared. The book was titled “Who Moved My Cheese”. I looked at it and thought that it was small enough I could probably read it in an hour or so. This tiny little book really made me think about my future and where I was going from here. I decided that I needed to make some changes in my life and now here I am 2 semesters away from completing my Masters degree and seriously thinking about starting my own business. Yes, I’m still in the maze, but at least now I have a few exits. In today’s world things are even more uncertain. The markets fluctuate on an hourly basis, the dollar is ever weakening, and businesses are closing their doors daily. Am I scared? I’d be a liar if I said no, but if there is one thing that I have learned it’s that it’s better to try and fail than never try at all. We spend too much time thinking about what if I fail and not enough time thinking about what if I succeed.

  5. Tamara Cunningham Johnson

    The title of this article couldn’t be any more profound. Corporate America sometimes can feel like you’re drowning into one of two categories: those that remain in a cubicle their entire career and those that fight and persevere until they have accomplished all they can to get out and climb higher. I, too, just like so many other people fall into this cubicle quicksand. I have managed to graduate with an Engineering Degree and now I’m working on my Masters Degree. The question that always flows through my mind is, with these degrees what can they do for my future. Will I continue to sit in this cubicle and hope to climb higher or will I take charge of my career and see what endless opportunities are out there for me. I can say since being in IEM, it has shined a new light down on me. IEM has allowed me to see the passions of my heart and want to go and pursue those passions. Is it scary, of course it is because you feel in the back of your mind that your job is a steady income and nothing will happen. This is not so, with Corporate America you can be hired or fired today. With IEM, I now feel I want to go on and pursue a doctorate and give back educationally. Corporate America is great but with IEM I am grateful it has allowed me and definitely opened my eyes to see there are other opportunities out there.

  6. Deb Key

    Thank you for sharing this email! This is very much the sentiments of many employees in the Corporate world and it is sad that cubicles have been shrinking along with employee morale and job satisfaction.

    An article publish by CNN Living on February 08, 2011 By Stephanie Chen says that ” In 1994, the average office worker had 90 square feet of office space, but the area had been whittled down to 75 square feet in 2010, according to the International Facility Management Association, a professional network for the facility management industry. Space for senior office workers shrunk, too, from 115 square feet in 1994 to 96 square feet in 2010. But not to worry, that corner office keeps growing. During this same time, space for executive management actually increased.”

  7. Mr. Esquire

    Escape From Cubical Quick Sand While working at an undisclosed company recently, I had teammates that suffered from this phenomena. The cubical can either be a safety net, a safe harbor if you will, or it can be a vicious box of doom. Several of my teammates, all except for 2 roughly, had no desire to advance in their career beyond small steps. Educational advancement was just a mere thought and no more. The desire to progress upwards I have come to learn is not for everyone. I argued this point in a management class at my current place of employment. I am in the belief that not everyone is meant for management, and there fore force themselves into the cubical quick sand.

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