I have a corner office. Yes indeed. THREE, count them three, windows and fairly spacious.
But that is where any claim to the pinnacle of office achievement should end.
One of my windows is framed in green hedges where mockingbirds nest and sing. But the other two of my windows look out upon a lovely view of the loading area of a large electronics chain store.
The kind that sells lots and lots of car audio accoutrements. Including very powerful car speakers and subwoofers. Which they install and test where? On the loading dock, of course.
And here is where we leave the realms of office envy and enter my personal circle of hell.
The responsibilities of my job are manifold, but a large part of it is deskwork – protocol and report writing, project management and research. I like to tell people that science is largely 90% repetitive tedium, interspersed with 10% of intense excitement. It’s amazing what we will put up with for that adrenaline rush when things finally work, and the data comes in, and patterns emerge.
But for people with naturally inquisitive minds, that 90% tedium part takes a bit of discipline. To an easily distractable person like myself (bordering on attention deficit), it’s a constant exercise in self-control. It’s easy for the most minor of distractions to break my concentration.
Minor little things like my wall shaking and my ear bones shrieking. Things like that.
For the most part, I have adjusted to my rather noisy back-door neighbors. But about once a week, I have to put my hands over my ears and my forehead on my desk and repeat little mantras that sounds something like “I will not kill the geeky teenager, I will not kill the geeky teenager, I will not kill…”
Monday was one of those days.
It started shortly after lunch time (thus eliminating my most frequent excuse to flee the premises). BOOM – BOOM – BA – BOOM – BOOM. At a pitch almost slightly below normal hearing. A pitch that reverberates through your chest and sends your heart into arrythmia. The exact pitch that makes your inner ear protest in a pain that goes all the way down to your jaw. I put my hands over my ears and my forehead on my desk and started my teenager-saving meditation. Unfortunately for me, I am only a novice at transcendental thought processes, and I lack the Zen-mind necessary to perservere for 30 solid minutes of ground-rumbling thumping. I swear that elephants in Africa perked up their ears and looked around for their distressed herdmates.
I finally got up from my desk and navigated the vibrating floor to get the complete visual to the chest-thumping soundtrack. Parked in back of my office was a Ford Explorer with black-tinted windows. And as far as I could tell by looking through the sole untinted window, it was completely empty.
Those little geekboys went to LUNCH and left that sucker running! I felt the blood rush out of my protesting chest to my head, and I went to the back door of my building and threw it open – fully intending to have some choice words with some pimply little teenage boy fully young enough to be my son. And then I saw it. Beyond the Explorer was parked the real source of the sound. A tiny little Honda Accord with three boys in low-slung jeans gathered around it intently, their hair blowing back with every pulse. They looked… silly. The speakers were likely worth more than the car. I wondered if their mothers knew the damage their sons’ hearing was taking right now.
Then I thought back to the all the rock concerts, with seats far too close to too many speakers. And the boys with the cool cars and the stereos turned way too loud and the abandon of wind and speed and the wash of sound. Back to the days when a modified orange Plymouth Duster was the coolest thing I had ever seen, and so was the tattooed boy who owned it.
I satisfied myself with giving them a dirty look and slamming the door as I went back inside. And I did what middle-aged women do when the going gets rough.
I went to Starbucks.