I love silence. I grew up the only child of a single mom. Silence was everywhere when I was a kid, and I lavished myself with it. My childhood pastimes were either lying in the backyard watching the clouds, or curling up with a book and losing hours amongst the soundless pages. To this day my favorite places have more in common acoustically with outer space than a school cafeteria. Idle chatter is, in my opinion, one of the greatest sins of man. How anyone could so senselessly slaughter perfectly pure silence with aimless noise is beyond me. If I ever get elected Supreme Leader, my first decree is mandatory quiet hours with violations punishable by labor camp. There’s nothing more valuable than peaceful, usable, inspiring silence. Sadly, my new coworkers don’t feel the same way.
One would think the people I work with could appreciate some quiet time. On any given day from about a half hour before the sun rises to a half hour after it sets, we’re talking to people. This would be fine if the conversations were worth a damn. It’s the same vapid monotonous chatter, differing only in the mouth comes from. It’s so repetitive I’ve had to start creating new ways to arrange the same two dozen or so words it takes to get someone on the course just to keep myself from going insane. Unfortunately, rather than assuaging my desire to sledgehammer my face into the computer, it just leaves the customer confused as to what the hell I’m saying. So, I resign to cycling through the same sentences, not unlike your customer service call center reps or drive-thru workers.
But every so often there’s a lull. Golfers stop coming through the door and the phone goes more than two minutes without boring its siren through my frontal lobe. It’s in these moments of respite I’ll tear from the pages of caffeine and nicotine addicts and use the time to restore my mental sanity with a little dose of my favorite drug. Pure, uncut silence. Except my coworkers won’t let me.
Rather than see these periods of pause as the precious gifts of peace they are, they treat them like a birthday piñata. The second there’s a break in the day they all pour pointless nonsense from their mouths like a busted levee, like they’ve been itching to get the noise out from inside them, unable to stand another moment deprived of their own voice. And it’s not like it’s anything meaningful either. We’re not pondering the ethics of economic diplomacy or strengthening each other’s values through a roundtable of struggles and character flaws, it’s just shooting the shit.
In the food pyramid of conversation, their incessant chatter is milk and dairy. They think it’s desirable, they think they’re doing themselves a favor consuming daily doses of pure organic, but really they’re hurtling towards diabetes just as fast as the guy double fisting Snicker bars. What’s worse, unlike your chocolate abusers, is that theirs are not victimless crimes. They’re not just warping and mushing their own brains with their perpetual blathering, they’re taking those words and blowing them right in my face like a full heater’s worth of secondhand smoke.
Well, I’m done with it. I can no longer abide these people squatting in the annals of my ears with their shopping carts of litter like talking points. I’ve tried everything I can think of to politely excuse myself from participating in their roundtable, and nothing’s worked. They’re immune to indifferent responses such as single words, grunts, and shoulder shrugs. They’re apparently so comfortable with the culture of the smartphone that having their conversation partner’s face buried in a screen or behind a book isn’t a deterrent. Hell, even when I wake up particularly epileptic and spend the day just under the surface of my threshold, irritably stumbling over sentences while I try to shield my eyes from any light brighter than a candle, they still charge right ahead, wedging their mindless droning into the already cacophonic rhythm of my throbbing temples.
I don’t know what to do anymore. I guess I need to just start telling them I don’t feel like talking, but I’m afraid I’m still so new that if I do, all I’ll accomplish is gaining a reputation for being unfriendly.
I’ve never been one for confrontation in the workplace. There’s nothing good that’ll come out of starting a disagreement with someone you see everyday, whom you don’t really know, in an environment with too many stressors and opportunities for things to be taken the wrong way and grudges to be held forever. But these are desperate times. There are only so many moments of silence in a workday. I can’t do 10 hours of endless talking. Nay, I won’t. If I can’t find a solution, I may have to quit and start a new life as a librarian or a Google Street View driver. Maybe things will get better once my new hire smell wears off and they figure out a little bit more of my personality. Until then, I’m stuck bolting out of the shop every time someone’s needed on the course so I can spend a few priceless minutes hearing nothing but the smooth purr of 10HP thundering down a cart path. .
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