Wednesday, 12 October 2011


I can hear the guy who sits behind me. Although he's Chinese, he speaks to himself all day in English, and makes noises like Jar-Jar Binks and little Yoda-like exclamations whenever he comes across something that requires thought. I suspect that when I don't hear him talking to himself, he's not working. When he's not talking to himself or making ridiculous noises, he puffs, really short and loud, like you do when you're about to attempt a heavy deadlift in the gym. I wonder if people know they're talking to themselves. I imagine me talking to myself in Chinese, and annoying the shit out of the whole office - if I was working in China.

He has one other really, stupefyingly irritating habit. He makes noises with 'things', like just now, he's picking up his pen and dropping it onto the desk, once every few seconds, in between clicking the button on top of the pen (and puffing, and talking to himself). Sometimes he holds his phone and absent-mindedly clacks it on the desk one side at a time, turning it over and over until you feel that death would be a welcome respite from the noise.

About once every five minutes, the phone rings. The main office phone is right behind me, and every time it rings, it plays a little, excruciatingly annoying, ditty, until someone answers it. If no-one answers, it does a round-robin of all the phones in the office, before returning to the musical phone behind me. 

Then I hear the 21 year old girl who sits next to me, tapping away on the keyboard again. She does this about once every minute, from dawn til dusk, interrupting her work to chat with friends over icq, often pausing for long periods to edit the response, one hand poised over the keyboard while the other pulls and teases at the ends of her hair, plucking out the loose ones and dropping them on the floor. I think that I could pick her typing sound from a hundred others, I'm so used to it. I reckon this behaviour gives her about an hour of productivity per day. When she's not tapping away on icq, she's on her phone. I don't know why they hire these people. Even if they're cheap, it's false economy. But then, they hired me, so should I feel bad?

She walks past me to get a drink and I hear the fingernails-on-a-blackboard sound of her dragging feet. Why do people have to drag their feet when they walk? You only have to lift them a centimetre or so to clear the floor, yet this seems too difficult? They must have shocking problems with static electricity, I think. The clinking of pointless jewelry and trinkets alerts me of her imminent return. She's one of three women in an office of around 25 men, almost all of whom are fat, slobby, IT guys over 40, yet she insists on wearing hot pants and dressing up like she's going out to a nightclub. I don't understand why. I can't imagine the thought processes.

Every half hour or so, I hear the rustling of foil from the other side of the partition, indicating that the Russian guy who sits there is having another Nicorette. I once asked him about it and he told me that he gave up smoking about a year ago but it now addicted to Nicorettes. I wonder constantly whether that's cheaper or even healthier than actually smoking. Speaking of smoking, I'm now hearing the old guy across the aisle hacking away again. He sounds like he's about to die, but one of the other guys told me that he's been the same for the last 3 years, so he could go on forever. He's always out on the balcony with the Sri Lankan guy, the Indian guy, the sysadmin, the admin woman and the managers of the company, who all smoke like chimneys.

The Chinese guy just dropped the pen again, but has picked it up and is clicking the button interminably. He's talking to himself again. People here talk to themselves, but don't talk to each other. They communicate by instant messaging.

My team leader asked me a question on icq yesterday, then when I answered, I hear him go 'Hmmm' (he only sits about 2 metres away). Then he types 'Hmm' on icq. I've pulled up a few people here who typed 'LOL'. I said 'LOL'? I didn't hear you make a sound! 'Laughing on the inside', quipped one bloke. Meanwhile the old guy's having another coughing fit, he's getting weaker, I can hear it. I wonder if it bothers him that he can barely breathe? Does he ever think that by quitting, he might stop coughing? Advertising doesn't work.

The Russian's having another Nicorette. I'm going to have to put on the headphones. At least it's not as bad as the last place I worked. The guy opposite me had a high-pitched voice like a jockey and used to host webinars from his desk, where he'd talk non-stop for an hour. When he put on the headphones at the start of the session, his voice used to go up a few decibels. It drove me nuts. Eventually we made him go into the meeting rooms for the webinars.

He was one of those people who just talk extra loudly on the phone, and seem to lose all awareness of their surroundings (ie, a very quiet office, surrounded by people trying to work). I remember when mobile phones first became really popular, and the first thing everyone who had one did, was buy annoying ringtones. So you'd be surrounded by stupid, pointless, music from morning til night. Then again, I used to smoke at my desk in the really old days, and that probably annoyed the ones who didn't smoke. I remember one guy asking me to blow the smoke elsewhere. I told him to get stuffed.