Some days, I can’t win. A familiar topic I’ve written about before is my hypersensitivity to sound. It has a name; Misophonia.  Today, for some reason, is significantly more difficult than other days. For me, this is a real thing. I’ve attempted before to explain what it sounds like for me to others, but words don’t seem to express, in an appropriate manner, what I hear and feel.

Eating is by far the most frustrating sound I deal with. Hearing someone eat, regardless of the food, is just shy of enraging. My reaction to this is to put on the headphones and turn on some music to drown it out. As I work in an office where most of the colleagues I work with are remote, it isn’t always convenient to listen to music. I’m left to endure, in silent protest, the sounds of eating around me for most of the day. For me, a sound a few cubes down of someone eating chips is as loud and distracting to me as if they were sitting next to me in my cubicle. The sound is in my ears, amplified, louder than any of the other sounds much closer to me. Another way to describe the sound I hear, think of a gun going off in a shooting range, but you’re not watching the gun so have no idea when it actually gets fired. The sudden jolt to your system when you finally hear it is a fair description of what each chip, chew, slurp sounds like to me. Definitely something that makes me anxious at times.

Naturally, there are a ton of other sounds that do this as well, just not to the same degree. Any one sound by itself is bearable, something that can be almost ignored. Being in an office though, this stuff tends to pool and coalesce into a myriad of sounds that is all but impossible to ignore or eliminate. I’ve attempted to explain, complain, silently protest without success. To someone who doesn’t think any of this is annoying or frustration, I’m the crazy one for being bothered by it. The general reaction is mediocre, and does bring a little relief, however forcing someone to stop something that doesn’t bother them or others around them will generally lead to more, not less sound. Try to be quiet in the morning so you don’t wake someone else, and you actually make more noise. It’s the same type of result here as well. The worst part of trying to explain this to someone is the reciprocated “well this sound you make bugs me, so we’re even.” I don’t get relief, they continue about their day.

While researching this condition, I found that it develops usually around the ages of 11-15. Vaguely recalling some of those years, I was an extreme isolationist and often would spend hours at a stretch in my bedroom on the stereo (had a hobbled together system) and then, around 13, a computer where I would get lost online in bulletin board systems and the like. Once I discovered online chat systems (Diversi-Dial), I spent hours online chatting with other computer geeks. It was a text-based system that ran at 300 baud (or 0.0003 Mbps) and connected you with 6 other people, also dialed in. Diversi-Dial was loaded into an Apple IIe with a cassette, and had 7 300 baud modems installed to allow people to dial in. Most of them cost a monthly fee as it was expensive to have 7 phone lines running into your home to run a system of this nature. I did nothing else, so I had no problems spending my money on my own phone line and monthly subscriptions to dial-up chat systems. I rarely chat online anymore except, as of late, Twitter.

I’m affected so much by this that I’m able to easily get a weeks worth of work done in the 9 hour day I work from home in my basement office. No sound, no distractions, no people doing things that make my brain want to evacuate my head. I’m fighting currently to get more days approved to work from home, but it’s an up hill battle with the level of crotchety thinking by the dinosaurs that run my company. They are very much “butt in the seat” types and have a ridiculous resistance to anyone working from home. Ten years ago, there were over 400 servers here on-site, and over the last decade, that has dwindled down to just 15. Everything else has migrated to virtual systems hosted at a third-party cloud provider. Virtual servers are the future, virtual working is the future, people working from “anywhere” is quickly becoming the norm and dinosaurs be damned, they’re outnumbered and going extinct. The asteroid, in this case, is a millennial forcing the changing of policies that allows flexible work schedules and teleworking from anywhere.

I can only dream that policies change allowing me 2-3 days of teleworking so that I may be spared from having to resort to drastic measures of mitigating the amount of sound around me. Perhaps I can blame the slow change on the Democrats and Clinton….. it works for Trump 🙂