Monday, May 08, 2006

Work-induced disabilities

Is it appropriate to hold your employer responsible for any deterioration of your faculties that may have occurred during the course of doing your job?

I am going to go deaf from wearing headphones to listen to music in my cubicle. This is to drown out the noise generated by some of my esteemed colleagues: the diatribes of the lady who blames all of her failures to grasp the simplest procedures and her chronic lateness on deadlines on Microsoft, because she hates all Windows software and claims she could do the work if it weren't for having to use it; the typing of the division coordinator who spends most of her time defending herself in group emails because she imagines that every departmental directive about correct procedure to be aimed at her; the phone calls of a social butterfly/drama queen; the conversations of the big boss lady, who calls her daughter in Germany from the office...

These are a few of my favorite things. When you are in close quarters (literally feet away) from other people it is nigh on impossible to feign ignorance of every little thing (conversations with self or others, swearing at computer/other imanimate object, eating, drinking, bodily noises, smells, etc.) that happens. The reminders that you are surrounded by unseen neighbors can be distracting, even maddening, if like me you need silence to avoid distraction. Even the clickety-clack of typing on a keyboard is enough to drive me insane, followed closely by the slow and methodical eating of Lady Defensive. Every morning at 10 she eats some kind of dry cereal that sounds like shards of plastic (I imagine it to look like the single army pieces from the Risk board game) out of a plastic cup and chews it verrrrry slowly, almost ruminatively. Then she makes phone calls in a slow, colorless, atonal voice that leads me to believe she is taking Thorazine. For some reason she doesn't contract any parts of speech or shorten words, so it takes her EVEN LONGER to get her words out. ("I believe that you will need to speak with your sales representative about that. Would you like me to give you her telephone number? I will give you her home office telephone number and her cellular telephone number so in case she is on the road you will be able to reach her.")

As Alistair Sim said in the 1952 version of A Christmas Carol (the single best version EVER, by the way), "I'll retire to Bedlam."


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