285. Absolute Silence

The quietest place on earth is a little chamber in Orfield Laboratories in Minnesota. In there, it is said that you’ll begin to hear your own breathing, heartbeat, and the sound of blood coursing through your veins. The longest any living person has been in there was 45 minutes.

Sometimes I feel like I need to lock myself in there for a couple of hours if I’m to get anything done.

It’s the little things in life that grates me. Total power blackout all across the suburbs? No problem, I’ll find my way in the dark. Massive floods? Guess it’s a good time as any to practice swimming. Ran out of money in the middle of the month? Small problem, I’ll make it through somehow.

But if I’m stuck in a traffic jam because some jackass neglected to service his car and had it die on him in the middle of an already-congested 2-lane road? Or when autocorrect refuses to cooperate with me, and decides to give me everything but what I want to type? Or when my keys – that have never given me any problems in 5 years of using them – suddenly won’t turn in the lock?

That’s when I go full Hulk on everything in sight.

(“SMAAAASSSSHHHH!! –No, wait. I still need this. Too broke to get a new one”)

What tops the already-ridiculous things that annoys me, from experience, are human voices.

It can be anything, ranging from someone persistently throwing questions at me, or the talk show host on TV just doing his job. When I’m in an irritable mood, what you can count on to send me flying over the cliffs of unstoppable rage is the sound of another human being’s voice. Yes, even if they’re offering food.

(unless it’s bacon. No one can ever get mad at bacon)

It’s why I like working at night. When people are asleep, and there’s a full foot of concrete between us, chances are that they will not be disturbing me while I work. Why, some of my most productive moments and most ingenious lines were written between 2A.M. and 4A.M.

As I reflect, I think this is also a big part of why I’m loving my present workplace. The thing about that last place I worked at was that everyone was incessantly talking about something – be it the weather, the traffic, the food, or their freakin’ relatives. But in this nifty advertising agency, despite what one assumes an advertising agency must be like, when the people get to work, boy, they get to work. Their eyes are fixed to their screens, their hands glued to the mouse and keyboards before them, they have earphones in their ears, and they do their work until it becomes absolutely necessary to talk.

(now I’m wondering what the plural for “mouse” is, when it’s in the context of the computer hardware. Do we still call them “mice”? Or “mouses”, to mark a distinction?)

It sounds peculiar, but I like to feel like I have space – physical space – to think. And the thing about sounds is that they take up the space that I need for thoughts, and my thoughts end up tripping over, or stubbing its little toe against these other sounds.

But that’s part of life, isn’t it? Tripping over things and stubbing your little toe against them. It’s as much a part of the human experience as falling in love and enjoying good food. We need to learn how to work around the little inevitable ways the world conspires to annoy us.

Not that a little life lesson is going to stop me from trying to set up office in the quietest place on earth.


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