February 6, 2002
Whistle While You Work (And DIE)


I'm not in the office five minutes before it starts: softly at first, like calliope music twinkling gently in the distance, but gradually drawing closer, and twinklier, and louder, until eventually it doesn't sound like a calliope gently twinkling in the distance anymore at all: now it sounds like THE ENTIRE GODDAMNED CIRCUS is standing four feet away from your desk at 7:52 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, when all you're trying to do is remain quietly vertical until the caffeine kicks in.

The Main Marketing Guy is whistling again.

I believe there are some behaviors that simply shouldn't be permitted in the workplace. Monday morning chit-chat. Snagging the last cup of coffee without bothering to make a fresh pot. Reheating your stinky leftovers in the communal microwave, applying your Hai Karate with a turkey baster, walking away from a paper jam, misspelling my name more than once: these are all office crimes that should not only be clearly covered in the employee handbook, but should ALSO be punishable by turning over all of your accrued vacation hours to *me.*

But whistling? Whistling is like the CAPITAL OFFENSE of office offenses. Whistle while you work, pal, and I will kill you totally dead.

Especially if your name is The Main Marketing Guy.

I have struggled valiantly, in the four months since I came to work at The Dirt Company, to get along with The Main Marketing Guy. I suspect it is an ongoing battle for us both. Every single day I must try to overcome my aversion to tasselled moccasins and oily solicitude: every day, apparently, he must try to overcome his aversion to peace and quiet. But it's important to me that I succeed with this, so I keep plugging away at it. For one thing, I don't want to turn him into the New Franz: the adorably awful *FootNotes* character we all love to hate. That's been done already. And for another thing, this is a new year ... a new job ... a new Secra. I want to turn over a new leaf. I want to embrace diversity in my workplace. I want to love all of my co-workers ... even the ones I hate.

But The Main Marketing Guy isn't making things easy.

Maybe it's because he reminds me so much of The Oregon Boyfiend. There is an overly fussy/overly busy precision to everything he does ... from his tornado-proof hair, to his eleven kinds of spellchecker, to the tasteful arrangement of glass turtles in his office. You just know that if you were to, say, set an incoming UPS package down on his credenza and accidentally bump one of those stoopid glass turtles a bazillionth of a millimeter of an inch to the left, he would walk into his office an hour later and spot it immediately. The sloppy anarchist in my soul chafes against this sort of rabid prissiness. (That's one of the reasons I don't live in OREGON anymore.)  The way I see it, life is too short to work yourself into a knot over a couple of abandoned cardboard boxes, left sitting in front of your door ... or a couple of used teabags left sitting in your sink.

Or maybe it's the way he persists in treating me like the hired help  --  the not-quite-bright hired help, at that  --  even though I've been with the company long enough to have demonstrated some measurable proficiency with 1.) telephones, 2.) word processors, 3.) doorknobs.

But nothing  --  and I mean NOTHING  --  rubs my last nerve bloody-raw like his whistling.

His office and the front desk where I sit are separated by the thinnest and least-soundproof of walls, so I am forced to listen to it all day, every day. He's got one of those big, throaty/warbly/show-offy whistles, like Bing Crosby or Santa Claus or the guy who used to change the oil in your Grandpa's station wagon on Saturday afternoons. He isn't whistling an actual melody  --  I've listened, trying to pick one out ("Tubular Bells?")  --  but mostly it's just a lot of half notes and partial scales and little trilly up-and-down maneuvers, designed to sound spritely and insouciant and mirthful. Coming out of him, though, it just sounds vaguely menacing. In fact, it sounds a lot the way I imagine a killer alien robot would sound ... that is, if killer alien robots could whistle.

Over the past few days I've been trying to examine my attitude towards the situation. Is it the actual whistling that annoys me? Or is it the person doing the whistling? Would I be this annoyed if it were my nice lady boss doing the whistling, for instance? Or David? Or one of The Tots? Or Matt Lauer?

I guess there's my answer, right there.

Since I obviously can't quit this job just because one co-worker out of fifteen drives me crazy  --  the truth is, I wouldn't want to quit this job even if four or five or FOURTEEN co-workers out of fifteen were driving me crazy: that's how much I love this job  --  and since I can't REALLY kill him totally dead, appealing though the idea may seem at 7:52 a.m.  --  I guess my only choice then is to continue to suck it up. Ignore it. Don't let him know he's getting to me. Pick up the phone and call somebody. Turn my radio up louder. Walk down the hall to the file room and close the door and power-breathe for a minute or two, just until my blood pressure ratchets itself back down to normal.

Or maybe I'll just go into his office, when he's not here, and move one of his turtles a bazillionth of a millimeter of an inch to the right. 



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OH I'M JUST KIDDING.
his turtles are safe.
[his MOCCASINS, on the other hand ...]