Did You Hear That?

By October 23, 2020 Life

Lately I’ve found myself sitting at my desk creeping out about how little noise there is in the house. And this morning was one of those moments when I’ve realized it was quiet. Too, too quiet. Which always reminds me of my great-grandmother’s house and just adds to the creep factor.

I can remember sitting around her house on a Saturday afternoon, on weekends my sister and I were required to visit, with zero noise. No radio. Certainly no TV. No conversation. Just her sitting on the sofa, chain-smoking and reading The Enquirer. Truly one of those life experiences that screamed for just a little background noise.

Moving my office home, I didn’t take into account how much ambient noise is generated even in the small space I had shared. On some days, everyone but me was on the phone, and five people talking simultaneously in tight quarters was a bit much. On more than on occasion I packed up and came home so I could simply focus on the task at hand.

But at least there was noise.

Not that I’m somehow without the means to generate some sound. I’m not helpless in the situation. I do have a TV, iPhone and iPad sitting in my office. However, once in a while I’ll stop what I’m doing and realize I’ve turned nothing on. How did I not notice that? And is everyone who found themselves back home since March having the same experience?

We tend to be social people (and no, my fellow introverts, I’m not necessarily including you), and I know companies are making efforts to virtually connect their employees. But I find myself wondering if the lack of ambient noise is making the disconnect more real. How do you adapt to that change and does it impact how you perform?

As I write this, my door is closed and I have my headphones in, listening to classical music. Over time, I have discovered writing comes easier when I’m not trying to follow or decipher lyrics. Or tune out someone else’s conversations.

Most sound here gets generated when James hops on a conference call, which varies from once or twice a day to back to back on some. Oddly enough, those are the days I shut my office door and specifically turn on some music. Yes, the sound is nice to have, but hearing one side of a conversation all day can get a bit distracting.

Yet having no sound can be as well. Starting a firm at the start of the recession in 2008 resulted in four people sharing 4000 square feet of open office space. Four. I swear we had days where you could hear a pin drop – in the office next door.

So perhaps I’m a little over sensitive to the lack of ambient sound. Or maybe I just expect to wander into the living room one quiet morning and find my great-grandmother sitting there in silence. Cigarette in one hand. National Enquirer in the other.


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