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Open plan. That’s the generic architectural term for the modern office’s “people pit” — no walls, no doors, no privacy. As I write this, I am donning headphones to drown out the phone conversation adjacent to me.
Only the individual on the other end of that call needs to hear my colleague use the word “discharge” as a noun. And the poor assistant who just got chewed out by her boss and is now sitting at her desk wailing? I don’t want to hear that either. Your man just broke up with you via text? Your boss is overworking you and you’re about to burst into tears? Time to ream your assistant for screwing up again?
No need to overshare at your open-plan desk. There’s a place just left of the photocopier called the Crying Room, and you can go there and do that … and more. It’s dark. There are no windows — just a couch, with throw pillows that work well to muffle the sound of your sobbing, a table, and a box of tissues. You can ‘handle your business’ to your heart’s content. A veritable outhouse for your emotions, the Crying Room is genius and every 21st-century sterile-minimalist office should be equipped with one. I’m in there at least once a week and I already see a vast improvement in my emotional well-being. Recently, one of my colleagues complimented me on how calmly I handled a situation where I was asked to speak expertly about I subject I knew nothing about, and in which I was only briefed moments before, with the reminder that my job was on the line. Before the Crying Room, I might have complained to the wrong person, freaked out at my desk — any number of things that would have been deemed unprofessional.
Instead, I simply walked over to the Crying Room, flopped face-down on the couch, grabbed a pillow, and screamed into it at the top of my lungs. It was cathartic and so efficient. I was actually able to retouch my makeup before I entered the lion’s den. My colleague was so amazed that she has started to use the Crying Room too (bad breakup). It’s now become so popular, we’ve had to create an online sign-up sheet with time slots for personal calls, reprimands, arguments with expletives, TMI bodily issues etc. But spontaneous combustion is still first-come, first-served.