Every weekday morning when I open my eyes at the sound of my alarm, a glimmer of hope flutters inside my chest. Maybe today will be different – maybe today, just maybe, the flag of freedom will fly inside my office in terms of music choice. Isn’t this the week my boss is on that business trip, anyway? Those are the best days, the days when the speakers in the office play a mixture of songs and genres and everyone’s input is respected. The flavor of variety is expressed and we all get to enjoy the taste. But those days end when my boss is in the office.
At first, it really wasn’t so bad. The consistent hum of 1920s jazz in the background of the office was an easy backdrop to a day spent closing deals and Skype chatting about cubicle gossip. I didn’t really notice it, focused as I was on my actual work. As I became comfortable and started to slack off, once the shine of being employed had worn thin, I noticed the music. After days and days of the same repetitive genre, the same droning of the saxophone, the sound started to grate on my nerves. Some jazz is easier to listen to than other types. There’s the sort of jazz that’s upbeat and funky and very well suited to daytime office life, and then there’s the type of jazz my boss likes to play.
“Smooth jazz” is my boss’s go-to choice, and while the name indicates an easy listening experience, it sounds in reality like something that your grandparents would bang to. It would be perfect for an instance where I was also dressed like a character from the musical ‘Chicago,’ which is relatively seldom at the office, I’ll admit. It would also be an ideal soundtrack for the times when I’m meeting a businessman wearing a top hat for an illicit lunch in the city before we go back to his brownstone apartment to continue our affair. All I need is a flapper dress and a flute of champagne and I’m set.
My boss seems completely oblivious to the fact that his choice of music is more suited to Prohibition-era deals done by night in back alleys and involving barrels of home-brewed alcohol. Every time I walk into the office, I think I should be doing a musical number on top of a piano inside a dimly-lit speakeasy. It’s not an easy image to reconcile with what my actual day, spent wearing an over-sized sweater and drinking bad coffee behind my three screens, will look like. The comparison isn’t exactly a favorable one, but the fact that I’m forced to listen to a station featuring sultry clarinet and saxophone combinations makes it difficult to focus on where I actually am. Every day, I’m being transported through audio to a place where I should be drinking a mint julep and wearing elbow-length gloves and a sparkly headband, and coming back to reality from that isn’t easy.
I’ve changed the station myself on some days when I just couldn’t take it anymore, but inevitably my boss comes back from brewing his new glass of yerba mate and switches it back. My headphones can’t even drown out the sound completely. The guy doesn’t seem to realize the exquisite torture he’s providing to my ears day after day. At least let us listen to daytime jazz, man. The smooth jazz station is made for dark nights slow dancing with a lady of questionable reputation. Don’t ruin it for me by making me associate it with the workplace. I’m begging you. We’re all begging you. Make it stop, or at least let me start sipping sidecars at my desk. Your call. .
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