Cubicle Inventor Says He's Sorry (Sort Of)

It is highly unlikely that many people would be able to pick Robert Propst out of a lineup, but if they knew who he was, quite a few would be inclined to curse his name.


Robert Propst is the inventor of the cubicle.

But before you all go marching after him wielding torches and impromptu bottom-kicking devices, know this: Propst, sadly, is no longer with us; and this: Even he lamented his accidental contribution to what he coined the “monolithic insanity” of the modern office.

Thirty years ago, when Propst, reluctant cubicle sire, came up with the idea for the much-maligned partitioned compartment of doom, he did so with the intent of improving the office environment, Fortune Magazine reports.

The way Probst envisioned the cubicle, it wasn’t actually a cube at all — it was an “Action Office” — and contained various levels of desk space so workers could sit or stand while on the job.

He reasoned that people would get more done if they could spread their work out around them in relative privacy and move around a bit.

Even the most bitter of the boxed-office bourgeoisie would likely concede that these are not the visions of a man hell-bent on plunging America’s workforce into perpetual Dilbert-ville.

It wasn’t until businesses figured out that they could cram a bunch of people in one big open space on the cheap that the cubicle became the office plague that it is today.

Sadly, it is unlikely the working world will soon escape the cubicle’s clutches. Cubes still take a lion’s share of office furniture sales — about $3 billion a year.

Mop vs. Plunger: The Ultimate Fighting Championship

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — An argument over toilet paper overflowed into a fight, sending one motel maid to the hospital and another to jail.

The maids at the Siesta Motor Lodge in North Charleston armed themselves with a plunger and mop after accusing each other of taking toilet paper from each other's cleaning carts, North Charleston police said.

Deloris Smith, 47, is charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. A magistrate set her bail Friday at $5,000.

The argument began about 9:40 a.m. Thursday in the motel's laundry room. The 52-year-old maid wounded in the scuffle said Smith grabbed a mop and hit her on the arms. She was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, police said.

Smith said she was defending herself against her co-worker's plunger.

Nun vs. Librarian: The Ultimate Ultimate Fighting Championship

ERLANGER, Ky. (AP) — After a five-year hiatus, the Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery in Villa Hills are ready to show whether they are superior spellers.

The sisters were champions of the annual Corporate Spelling Bee for Literacy in northern Kentucky for years before giving others a chance to win.

But now the nuns are back, even if they're a little timid about challenging the reigning champions — a group of Boone County librarians.

"Librarians give us a scare," said Sister Mary Carol Hellmann, who says she's been brushing up on Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Spanish root words to prepare for the bee. Some of the other sisters say they use the Internet to practice.

Meanwhile, the librarians say victory won't come easy now that the nuns are competing.

"They have that strong Latin background," said Cindy Brown, director of the Boone County Library. Brown said her spelling team is made up of "voracious readers with a certain verbal attitude."

The winners will be decided Thursday during the ninth annual bee, which is a fundraiser for a Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission program that helps adults with literacy skills. Twenty teams made up of adults from local businesses, schools and nonprofit organizations will participate.

Thanks to Out There readers Michael W. and Amy.

Sorry, Wrong Number ... er ... Numbers

COSHOCTON, Ohio (AP) — Someone's been a very, very, very busy boy.

Authorities arrested a man accused of making harassing and obscene calls — 2,623 of them, to be exact — to random cell phone numbers in at least eight counties in just 20 days.

James R. Hood, 43, was charged with one count of compelling prostitution, or offering money for sex. He posted bond and was released from the Coshocton County jail, the sheriff's office said Wednesday.

Hood was arrested earlier this week following a joint investigation by sheriff's deputies in Coshocton and Licking counties. Hood lives in the Licking County town of Granville, about 25 miles east of Columbus.

Authorities say he made the calls between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m, and according to Coshocton County deputy Brent McKee, they were "all basically obscene in nature."

Hood will either have a preliminary hearing this month or the case will be presented to a grand jury, Coshocton County Prosecutor Robert Batchelor said.

A stipulation of Hood's bond was that he can't use a telephone, cell phone or the Internet, McKee said.

Thanks to Out There reader Michael W.

Busted for Being Beautiful

NORTH WALES, England (AP) — The roadside camera was supposed to catch speeders. Instead, a British woman is in trouble after she was videotaped with a compact in one hand and a brush or pencil in the other hand while driving on a hazardous road in North Wales.

A top North-Wales police official says he "can't imagine a more dangerous act than to be driving along the road, take your hands off the wheel and to put makeup on."

The 22-year-old was fined about $340 and given six points on her driver's license.

Traipsing Through the Woods to Find a Monster? Sign Me Up!

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Apparently nobody wants to meet Bigfoot.

The Malaysian Forestry Department says there are no takers for permits on offers to explore a protected forest for the mythical creature, despite initial excitement over reported sightings of the beast, The Star newspaper reported Wednesday.

Authorities printed 500 application forms anticipating a rush, but none has been filled, Che Hashim Hassan, the department's director in the southern state of Johor, was quoted as saying.

The Malaysian media has been gripped by Bigfoot fever since November 2005, when fish farm workers reported seeing three giant human-like creatures in the Endau Rompin park in Johor. They also claimed to have seen a gigantic footprint.

Park officials combed the site but found no physical evidence of a Bigfoot. However, they recorded more reports of sightings from aboriginal villagers who live on the park's fringes.

"We thought that with all the interest in Bigfoot, we would have a lot of inquiries from the public," Che Hashim said. "However, this is not the case."

Tourism officials said they planned to use the interest in Bigfoot to draw tourists to Malaysia.

Compiled by's Taylor Timmins.

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