It’s not as bad as “Corporate Counsels Payroll, Nina speaking. Just a moment.”

Sometimes it’s pretty close, like just now.

  • The never-has-nothing-to-do sys admins are looking at restricted web sites again. Restricted to other employees, I mean. One of them has a truly explosive and hysterical laugh. Worse than the “hyena lady” in Sleepless in Seattle. I used to sit 2 rows away from him and was tearing my hair cell out. Now I’m 5 rows away and it still hurts.
  • The fast-talking MBA project manager has been asking everybody when they’ll finish their projects as always. Only speaking faster today.
  • The sales partner’s secretary has been typing like mad, when she’s not calling places to reserve/cancel appointments. Donno why her seat is among the developers. Donno why her keyboard sounds so loud, either.
  • The guy who always strolls around the floor is doing it for the 36th time today. He always wears a suit. And a hat.
  • 3 guys sitting on my back side have been talking about all kinds of stuff. In Russian Serbian, Argentine, and a monotonic robotic origin-unknown accents. Maybe the 3rd guy IS a robot. Gosh, why didn’t I think of that before?! That explains a lot of things…
  • The guy sitting next to me just started today. In the morning he stared at the screen for about an hour trying to log in. Then he’s been making phone calls to insurance company, asking sys admin how to do this and that, etc. In Polish accent.
  • A guy just bought a handheld GPS and is showing it off. He can’t get a strong signal so he opens up a window and sticks it out. The wind is howling through the crevice and he’s bragging that the device can talk. In good old American accent. The other guys marveling at this modern marvel are my compatriots with you-know-what accent.

I myself is to be blame for the ordeal, though. I brought the super nice Bose QuietComfort headphone to work a few times, but got tired of commuting with it–certainly I can’t leave that expensive thing in the office. Now what I have is a cheap headset and my ears hurt after wearing it for 30 seconds.

I figure that there are very few tech companies in the world where developers have private offices. That’s why Fog Creek always looks to me like Google’s next door neighbor in programmer heaven. In my current company of more than 100 employees, there are only 8 private offices for the partners, CFO, and sales/finance/HR managers. Even the director of development sits among us in sprawling grey desks.

Oh wait, the receptionist kind of has her own office. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll trade for her space if it gets too rough and tough around here.

UPDATE: There’s one distinctive noise missing yesterday: the guy who skypes our outsource team in Ukraine for about 4 hours continuously everyday, in Russian-accented Russian.

But I don’t care any more since I have my QuietComfort now. In a month I’ll be able to transcribe all of Beethoven’s string quartets from memory 🙂