Friday, April 18, 2008

Indoor Voices and Personal Space

I think I am becoming one of those little old ladies that just complains all the time. The phrase "Back in the good old days ..." enters my mind a lot. And "what ever happened to ..." in reference to things like manners and common sense.

One situation that comes to mind is the time someone stood right outside my cube and talked - real loud - on his cell phone. When I turned around and looked at him, he said it was the only place he could get a signal. Uh-huh. What about OUTSIDE? What about the fact we have a No Personal Cell Phones rule, too?!? I said something to my boss and he offered to get me a White Noise machine since I was so sensitive to these things. Grrrrrrrr. But I digress. (And I no longer work in that area!)

This week I'd finally had enough of people in Cubeville without Indoor Voices. When you live in Cubeville, at least 12 people can hear everything you say, and that is if you speak in a normal voice, like on the phone, or to someone who is in your cube for the purpose of having a conversation with you. That does not bother me too much; I just don't make any personal phone calls at my desk, and I try not to listen to other people who do. It is part of life in cubes.

But when people stand just outside my cube aisle and talk like they are outside, it gets to be too much. I really don't care what they did last night, or what they plan to do this weekend, or where they plan to go for lunch. The whole concept of "people can hear you" does not phase them one bit.

This week, as the conversations got louder and more frequent, I'd look over at the 20-something guy that sits in the cube across from me to see if he was bothered by it, too. He was. And he is usually plugged in to an iPod, so if HE heard them, it was loud.

The first few times I got out of my chair and poked my head around the corner - they were literally within 7 feet of our cubes. When they looked up, I'd say something like, "Please keep it down...we're trying to work here ..." or "Could you please take this conversation somewhere else? " They usually looked surprised, ended the conversation and went back to work.

But then the next batch of people would come along and it would start all over again, and I got tired of asking them to leave. So I broke down and printed several street-like signs to inform the loiterers that they might be bothering others. Things like "No Loitering" and "Please be considerate of your fellow associates working very near here. Thank you." But why should I have to do this??!? Why aren't these people at their desks working? I wish I had time to hang out in the aisles and chat...

Then, as I stood in line at the Post Office tonight, the lady behind me was talking, and I thought it was to me. Nope - she was plugged in and talking to a phone. I looked at her and she looked away and kept talking. What's so important that it cannot wait until she was back in her car? Then the woman behind her started talking into her cell phone and the first woman stared at her. HA! Bothers you, huh? Well guess what, lady, you BOTH bother me! Just stuff a sock in it and stand quietly for 5 minutes. Sheesh!

Then there's college student who was standing on a stairwell and talking on her cell phone. Apparently it was a fairly private conversation, but what she did not know is the echo from the stairwell carried her voice to all the rooms and offices around the stairs, and about 30 people were listening in. My friend, who worked in one of the offices within ear-shot, went up to her and tapped her on the shoulder. The girl turned around, irritated, and said it was a private conversation. Uh, no it's not. She looked around, turned red and left.

Then there was my son's HS graduation a few years ago. Big basketball arena. Big signs on the outside of every door to the place (1) No Air Horns, and (2) No Saving Seats. So I get to an empty row of seats and sit in the middle. In walks two moms and a few kids who proceed to sit on opposite ends of any free seats, lay their coats across them, and tell people they are saved. Once the lights go out and the ceremony starts, each of the chatty teenagers in these two rows of now-full seats takes out a cell phone and starts text-messaging or calling other teens in other rows and talking and laughing. And not quietly. After I asked them several times to please keep it down, one of the mothers turned around, looked at me, and asked me what was the matter. I told her all I asked was for the girls to turn off their phones and be quiet long enough for me to hear my son's name announced so I could leave. She shook her head, made a "whatever" face, and turned back around. Surprise! Guess where those girls got their training and good manners. I heard the Principal announce my son's name finally (thank goodness he was one of the Valedictorians so he was in the first group), then I left. What's wrong with these people!!?!?!? Oh, and yes, there were air horns, too. Not next to me, though, or I would have gone postal, for sure.

The whole concept of personal space is lost on several generations of people, and it irritates us old folks to no end. What's the matter with kids today!?! (Name that movie!) But it's not just kids, it's their parents, too. I think I know why I stay home so much now...

I read a really good book a while back by Lynne Truss called "Talk to the Hand", and it is subtitled "#?*! The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt The Door". A woman after my own heart. She also wrote "Eats, Shoots & Leaves", about the lack of spelling and punctuation abilities in the world today (another favorite peeve of mine), but that's a rant for another day. In the "Talk to the Hand" book, she mentions one of her methods of dealing with someone sitting next to you in an airport waiting area while talking loudly into a cell phone. She starts to read out loud. This usually irritates the talker to the point they either (1) realize they are bothering someone and hang up, or (2) they keep talking, but they get up and move somewhere else. Either way, she gets what she wants - quiet! Like I said, a woman after my own heart!

Anyway, enough ranting for now. I am not even sure any of this makes sense, but I feel better for having unloaded. ;-) And that's what it's all about, right?

1 comment:

Heather said...

I hate that I can't even go to the grocer store without people yapping the entire time they are shopping.

I formerly worked in cubeland- I HATED people who chose to converse outside my office.