Many people work in lovely little boxes decorated with mounds of paper, scattered pens and the odd picture to reminding them of things that are waiting for them out side of the little prison; staring at LCD screens (or an old flickering CRT) while their faces are softly lit by the incandescent glow of agitated liquid crystals. I am one of these office drones and I am here to usher a warning to all those that share my 8X8 life.
Don’t sing out loud.
Sounds simple right? Well, it’s not and I will tell you why. It may be difficult to understand my warning if you have never worked in an office where the majority of the employees are sorted into neat little cubes but bear with me for a bit and I will try and enlighten you, not that you will gain anything from it.
Most of the work done in these 8X8 padded boxes is mind numbing and repetitive and if you are as lucky as I am, the office will be on a raised floor (the type with the removable carpet squares to run wires underneath) resulting in a enhanced echoing barrage of footsteps every time someone walks by, especially if your cube, as mine is, is next to both the break room and bathroom. So to set the scene a little: I not only have to deal with a Muppet in my cube but also the constant symphony of “clop clop clop door sqeek, clop clop clop hmmm hrmmm, clop chitter chatter chitter clop clop clop” all day long. If I am lucky, one of the near by conference rooms will let out and the resulting stampede will make so much noise that distant *flush* of the nearby bathroom is masked for short time.
So, in an effort to keep my sanity, I started to listen to music/audio books/anything with the addition of headphones, allowing me to focus on the computer and not the constant attack of sounds that continually try to rape my ears and pillage my concentration. Audio books and podcasts are really nice because I can half focus on the story while looking up reference tables or redefining user requirements and just power through the work. Eventually I ran out of books and spoken word audio, so I switched over to music which works just as well if not better than an engrossing debate over which has had the biggest influence on American culture, professional or amateur porn. Occasionally I would find myself staring at the screen, hands poised over the keyboard like I am waiting to enter the next value, when I realize that I have in that position for 15 minutes completely lost in the discussion going on in my ear. With music I tend to be able to allow the well known notes blend in to the background as the scene around my monitors fade away and all that is left is the task at hand. Often I tap out the tune (with what little rhythm I have) with every mouse click or key press, bobbing my head to the familiar music. This is where the problem starts.
I have already mentioned Man Law Article 2 Section 3.4 in a previous post where one is required to sing Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of their lungs whilst in a moving car. This should not be applied in an office setting. Unbeknownst to me, my subconscious thought otherwise. Now, usually I only utilize one earphone while in the office so that I can properly hear the phone or a coworker’s question without having to remove earpieces but on this particular occasion the environment was particularly loud so it was upgraded to a dual ear bud day. I was working on a long list that needed about 1,000 entries updated manually and was flying through while listening to audio of old Muppet Shows (the actual show, not recordings of my cube mate) and the MahNàMahNà song came on. Naturally, I joined in; complete with the high pitched Do Do…do do do’s and full chorus line. Fortunately I wasn’t as loud as I am in the car alone where no one can hear the sounds of “pterodactyls mating on top of a factory that does nothing but drag heavy metal benches across concrete,” aka my singing. Unfortunately I was loud enough to have 4 or 5 people started looking around the corner wondering what the problem was. It wasn’t until I noticed a smiling face peering at me from near the break room did I realized that the sounds I was making could be experienced by others, regardless if they wanted to or not.
Yes I said experienced, you don’t listen to the rhythmic noise (it sure as shit isn’t music) that emits from The Great Bibliotender, you experience every note of it.