In the past few months, at my place of work, I have had to move to a temporary space while renovations have been going on. This is fair. Since I have been doing technical support, but have since been transitioning out of it, it was easiest to put me sort of half hidden inside another department. Initially, I was very excited about this. It seemed like a nice quiet place every time I walked through, and I thought that I'd finally be able to work without interruption. It was a group of nice ladies, dressed fairly conservatively, with pictures of their dogs and their daughters on the walls of their cubicles, talking in low tones about quiet work-related things. It seemed like the type of office where somebody bakes cookies and everybody has one and says, "Oh my! These are lovely! I can never get this kind of chewiness, how do you do it?" and then they swap recipes, and then next week somebody brings in cookies and it all happens again. Wholesome. Good. Ward Cleaver's office.
You know that guy in the department who looks real quiet and shy and you thought must be a total nerd sitting at home and sorting his stamp collection all night, but turns out to be the drummer for a death metal band while biting the heads off of live squirrels? Quiet on the outside, crazy on the inside? This department was like that, except that death metal might have been more fun.
It really amazed me to find out that if you put a group of 40-something women in a room together for 40+ hours a week, they go through instant regression to 16-year-old-girl sleepover relations, regardless of who's around. They giggle and squeal. At each other. About everything. Endlessly.
Mr. Cleaver? All bets are off, buddy.
Apparently, because of my half-hidden status behind a cubicle wall, I counted as not-there. Or it's possible that because I was such a minority that it finally just didn't matter. My testosterone could only barely protect me, it couldn't cut the estrogen haze in the office, it could hardly hope to balance it.
So they gathered -- at the desk merely a cubicle away from mine -- and talked and tittered and teased and tattled. They clucked and pattered and wheezed and rattled. It was like water cooler talk on, well.. estrogen. I'd like to say that it was like working next to a hen house, except the cliché is so damn overused.
Okay. Fine. Hen house, etc.
This all took a couple of days for them to settle in to having me around. For a while, they would start to get momentum going and then one of them would back up and see me sitting there with my headphones on and say in some sort of strained stage whisper, "Shhh! Erik is right there." Oh, ladies. Thank you for being so considerate. That was my grace period. The little chunk of time that every sale has built into it to get your really comfortable before something is shown to be so utterly catastrophic that you begin to question your judgment of all that's good and right in the world.
After a while (read: a week or so) I started to really value the quiet time, the time when everybody had work to do and were busy pecking away at their own desks with only the sounds of lightly tapped keys and soft phone conversations drifting over the light NPR on my headphones. Heavenly.
Then it started.
At first, I thought it was a CD, or a tape or something. And then I thought it was a radio station, and then I thought -- no -- that's impossible. Nobody would listen to it. It must be a CD. And then I thought it must be the internet, but no, not even the internet is that evil. I've yet to actually figure out the truth. I'm not even sure I care. All I know is this: ten, twelve times a day, maybe even more, floating over the cubicle wall at me is Listen to Your Heart by Roxette.
That's not a terrible song, right?
If I ever go on a killing rampage, it will be part and parcel with this song.
Listen to your heart
when he's calling for you.
Listen to your heart
there's nothing else you can do.
I don't know where you're going
and I don't know why,
but listen to your heart
before you tell him goodbye.
*hack* *hack* *gush* *splurt*
How could anyone not go insane listening to the same song that many times in one day? I'm fairly tolerant of repeats -- I can listen to Top 40 Radio and sort of write off frequent repetition when a song is being pushed real hard but this is ridiculous. This is tantamount to some sort of psychological torture. Can't I elect to have pins shoved under my toenails or something? Could we just skip over this and go straight to the verbal abuse and the part where somebody tries to compromise my morals? (Good luck!)
I understand liking a song and giving it a few repeat plays to really sing along or to figure out the lyrics in that one part that you just can't get. But playing a song (or a CD!) continually for 8 hours is the kind of cruel punishment that should be reserved only for Christmastime employees at FAO Schwarz.
Think about this: You know how sometimes when music is on it just feels like you have a soundtrack to your life? Like the lyrics and the music and what you're doing all sort of blend together into this one magical moment? Like when you're driving down the highway on a sunny day with the windows down and Running Down a Dream comes on the radio and the guitar picks up and the drums kick in and you're high on life and absolutely nothing can go wrong at this instant?
Sometimes you wonder if this fight is worthwhile.
The precious moments are all lost in the tide, yeah.
They're swept away and nothing is what is seems,
the feeling of belonging to your dreams.
It makes me want to beat my head against the desk. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get lucky and jam a binder clip into my eye and put an end to all the pain. Maybe I'll get a pencil lodged in my ear and serendipitously go deaf. I'm stuck in somebody else's soundtrack, and it's stuck on repeat.
I've sat for long moments and wondered which office implements could cause the most damage the fastest. Letter openers are easy forerunners. They just look like they're made for stabbing. Problem is, I don't have one. It's possible that my co-workers took them away for their collective safety. I am also sadly bereft of scissors which are actually intended to cut!
In my mind, I imagine finding some way of supercharging the spring in my desk stapler to be able to deliver a fatal blow with one might ka-thunk. I've thought about how to build an effective garrote by unbending paper clips and linking them together just right. In the heat of the moment, the truth would probably fall closer to losing all sense of reason and just throwing the damn fax machine at her.
...but listen to your heart
befooooooooooore you tellllllll hiiiiiiim
Let this be a lesson to you.
IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
11.21.05 @ 10:48a
You know the song was remade, right? I can't remember the band's name, but the new version sounds just as crappy as the old one. It accompanies a video with some skanky girl (read: the A&R guy's daughter) singing her pretty little heart out.
11.21.05 @ 10:58a
Somebody told me that. It's bad when somebody remakes a good song and ruins it (see: Sheryl Crow covering G'n'R or whatever that band was that did the bad reggae cover of that Cure song).
When you start with a shitty song there can be nothing but DEEP MURDEROUS EVIL.
11.21.05 @ 11:55a
311 did the Cure song. Sickening.
I want to hear someone cover Roxette's "You Got The Look!"
11.21.05 @ 12:29p
Then you get someone doing a REALLY bad cover of a really good song--as in Mariah Carey caterwauling her way through Def Leppard's "Bringing on the Heartbreak". I think that cover must be what a really bad LSD trip must sound like. All the more reason never to try drugs.
11.22.05 @ 3:47p
But have they actually given you any cookies yet? That could make up for it...
11.22.05 @ 6:58p
No. Sadly, no cookies.
11.22.05 @ 11:08p
I feel the same way about holiday music. Many years ago I worked in a mall. Other than the holiday season the piped in music included "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window" and (at least until the Gulf War started) "Billy Don't Be A hero".
One of my all time dreaded songs is "Hearts On Fire". I don't even know who sings it, but it haunts me.