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March 29, 2002: Make it stop, just make it stop

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In the next aisle over, two developers are working on what is apparently a difficult problem. One of them keeps singing, babbling, and making little cheering noises when they get something to work. Further down my own aisle the noise alternates between the tuneless humming of someone singing along to whatever music is playing through their headphones, and the tap of someone else's fingers on their desks in time to some rather erratic beat. Two rows down from that, where the real offices begin, one of the managers is taking yet another phone call on speaker phone. Heaven forbid he actually shut his door, resulting in the sound spilling out and echoing all over us lowly peons in the cube maze outside.

The speakerphone man I have been working on through silent training these past few weeks. The second I hear his phone click on and the voices hollering out, I get up from my desk, walk over, and shut his door firmly. I do not slam it Ė the point is not to be rude Ė I merely give him a tight little smile and say nothing at all. And my tactic does appear to be working just a bit. Iíve noticed him actually holding the receiver to his ears the past few times Iíve walked by. Perhaps heís started to get the message that it is REALLY ANNOYING when the rest of the building is forced to hear every word of his conversations.

But the rest is not so easy to get rid of Ė the incessantly ringing cell phones, the hollering in the break room, the humming and pounding of desks, and over-loud discussions of their latest fantasy football pools. I am slowly going insane.

Richard says I should learn to work with headphones and music on, and Iíve tried Ė honest I have. But I get too distracted by the music. It doesnít matter if there are no words Ė my mind latches on to the melody, and then busies itself working out all the various harmonies, determining which instruments are playing which part, and all the while Iím trying desperately to concentrate on the assignment Iím supposed to be doing. Itís the curse of having a musical background as a child that I am completely incapable of hearing music, without actually *listening* to the music.

And I suppose Iím getting better at tuning out the miscellaneous discussions that occur around me, especially once I finally manage to get myself completely immersed in my work. The problem is that that immersion doesnít happen all that often at this job. On the one hand this is a good thing because there is absolutely no stress whatsoever. On the other hand, Iím perilously close to getting bored these days, and when Iím hovering on boredom, I start noticing things; things like all the noise.

I realize that with my choice of career, my chances of ever getting an office with a door that can shut out all the noise are pretty much nonexistent. I realize that I just need to suck it up and learn to live with it, and that just because today Iím ready to leap over the cube wall and rip someone in half because they keep resetting the ring on their cell phone, this doesnít mean that itís this bad all the time.

Itís just that on days like today, when I have little to do, and the sun is shining and Iím desperate for the day to end so I can take advantage of the nice weather, sometimes itís hard to remind myself that this too shall pass.

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