Whistle While You Work (And
I'm not in the office
five minutes before it starts: softly at first, like calliope music
twinkling gently in the distance, but gradually drawing closer, and
twinklier, and louder, until eventually it doesn't sound like a
calliope gently twinkling in the
anymore at all: now it sounds like THE
ENTIRE GODDAMNED CIRCUS is
standing four feet away from your desk at 7:52 a.m. on a Wednesday
morning, when all you're trying to do is remain quietly vertical until
the caffeine kicks in.
The Main Marketing Guy
is whistling again.
I believe there are some
behaviors that simply shouldn't be permitted in the workplace. Monday
morning chit-chat. Snagging the last cup of coffee without
bothering to make a fresh pot. Reheating your stinky
leftovers in the communal microwave, applying your Hai Karate with a
turkey baster, walking away from a paper jam, misspelling my name more
than once: these are all office crimes that should not only be clearly
covered in the employee handbook, but should ALSO be
punishable by turning over all of your accrued vacation hours to *me.*
But whistling? Whistling
is like the CAPITAL OFFENSE of office offenses. Whistle while you work,
pal, and I will kill you totally dead.
Especially if your name
is The Main Marketing Guy.
I have struggled
valiantly, in the four months since I came to work at The Dirt Company,
to get along with The Main Marketing Guy. I suspect it is an ongoing
battle for us both. Every single day I must try to overcome my aversion
to tasselled moccasins and oily solicitude: every day, apparently, he
must try to overcome his aversion to peace and quiet. But it's
important to me that I succeed with this, so I keep plugging away at
it. For one thing, I don't want to turn him into the New Franz: the
adorably awful *FootNotes* character we all love to hate. That's been
done already. And for another thing, this is a new year ... a new job
... a new Secra. I want to turn over a new leaf. I want to embrace
diversity in my workplace. I want to love all of my co-workers ... even
the ones I hate.
But The Main Marketing
Guy isn't making things easy.
Maybe it's because he
reminds me so much of The Oregon Boyfiend. There is an overly
fussy/overly busy precision to everything he does ... from his
tornado-proof hair, to his eleven kinds of spellchecker, to the
tasteful arrangement of glass turtles in his office. You just know that
if you were to, say,
set an incoming UPS package down on his credenza and accidentally bump
one of those stoopid glass turtles a bazillionth of a millimeter of an
inch to the left, he would walk into his office an hour later and
spot it immediately. The sloppy anarchist in my soul chafes against
this sort of rabid prissiness. (That's one of the reasons I don't live
anymore.) The way I see it, life is too short to work yourself
knot over a couple of abandoned cardboard boxes, left sitting in front
of your door ... or a couple of used teabags left sitting in your sink.
Or maybe it's the way he
persists in treating me like the hired help -- the
hired help, at that -- even though I've been with the
enough to have demonstrated some measurable proficiency with 1.)
telephones, 2.) word processors, 3.) doorknobs.
But nothing -- and
NOTHING -- rubs my last nerve bloody-raw like his
His office and the front
desk where I sit are separated by the thinnest and least-soundproof of
walls, so I am forced to listen to it all day, every day. He's got one
of those big, throaty/warbly/show-offy whistles, like Bing Crosby or
Santa Claus or the guy who used to change the oil in your Grandpa's
station wagon on Saturday afternoons. He isn't whistling an actual
melody -- I've listened, trying to pick one out ("Tubular
Bells?") -- but mostly it's just a lot of half notes and
and little trilly up-and-down maneuvers, designed to sound spritely and
insouciant and mirthful. Coming out of him, though, it just sounds
vaguely menacing. In fact, it sounds a lot the way I imagine a killer
alien robot would sound ... that is, if killer alien robots could
Over the past few days
I've been trying to examine my attitude towards the situation. Is it
the actual whistling that annoys me? Or is it the person doing the
whistling? Would I be this annoyed if it were my nice lady boss doing
the whistling, for instance? Or David? Or one of The Tots? Or Matt
I guess there's my
answer, right there.
Since I obviously can't
quit this job just because one co-worker out of fifteen drives me
-- the truth is, I wouldn't want to quit this job even if four or
co-workers out of fifteen were driving me crazy: that's how much I love
this job -- and since I can't REALLY
kill him totally dead, appealing though the idea may seem at 7:52
-- I guess my only choice then is to continue to suck it up.
Don't let him know he's getting to me. Pick up the phone and call
somebody. Turn my radio up louder. Walk down the hall to the file room
and close the door and power-breathe for a minute or two, just until my
blood pressure ratchets itself back down to normal.
Or maybe I'll just go
into his office, when he's not here, and move one of his turtles a
bazillionth of a millimeter of an inch to the right.
throw a rock