4/12/16

Headphones . . .

I always tell people my first job was at a bank as a senior in high school. That is a lie. My FIRST job was selling rock on the streets of Baltimore. I kid. Patapsco (that's a Baltimore metro are joke, Google it). I kid. My FIRST job was working at a Boy Scout Camp.

Yep. You didn't know that I'm a recovering Eagle Scout with palms? Sent it all back because, well, homophobes. BUT - for a long time - I was a proud and engaged and happy Scout (including my Webelos years (that is a scouting joke, Google it). And when I worked at that camp I ran the Handicraft area (that's right I taught basketry and leatherwork and metalwork and woodcarving) and I kept the workshop open morning, noon, and night and I was always bumping the Classics - really loudly. It helped the day flow and it kept people interested and music is fun, fun, fun.

Fast forward 25 years (almost to the day) and you could still tell I was at work by the happy sounds of music (ranging from hip hop to classical, spoken-word podcasts, to folk, big band, to the occasional country fit (when in Rome/Kansas)) that is, of course, until a few weeks ago.

I don't talk about work much here and I don't bring my battles to social media and I try not to complain about my lot in life but I had, for the first time in 18 years, to take home my speakers and bass cannon after complaints from colleagues.

Let me be clear - people have complained before. Directly, respectfully, casually. I'll apologize, turn the music down, roll my eyes, grumble at them, and go back to what I was doing. It worked well. Everyone won. Then the reports of criticism came from not those directly upset but vice presidents, senior vice presidents, the c-suite. By the time you're getting text messages from the actual head of the company . . . it is time to turn the music down, the lights up, and do last call.

It is fine. I get it. I'm almost forty years old. It is an office and place of "business". People like varying degrees of quiet and peace and noise and stimulation. Profanity from my mouth is bad enough but vibrating lyrics through the cubicle walls is probably a lot.

I'm fine with it. It is what it is. I feel bad that I upset those around me enough that they felt the need to escalate to highest reaches of our organization. Lesson learned. The good news is that the vast majority of my peers "get" me and the leadership of our company does, too. Good discussions, lessons learned, thoughts/perspectives shared, etc.

I bought some spiffy new headphones that have audio quality far superior to their $26 price tag and I've eliminated the even potential for complaints or distraction (also well worth the price). I'll never hear my phone ring again. People can stand over my shoulder and patiently wait for me to just happen to sense their presence for way longer. My music kills only my hearing and calm and focus.

Basket weaving this is not.