Home Advocacy A Typical Day At The Office

A Typical Day At The Office

by Vicki Sladowski

It is Monday morning again. I make it a point to arrive at the office about 10-15 minutes early to avoid the “morning rush” filtering in the building. I quietly enter the office making it safely to my office and immediate close the door. 8 am is approaching and everyone begins to arrive. Do they go to their desk and begin their day? Of course not, voices from the kitchen echoes down the hall seeping through the walls.  Loud voices, shrilly voices, squeaky voices all making my ears bleed. Shut up! Misophonia triggered! Giggle giggle cackle. “How was your weekend?” How long does it take to make a cup of coffee? You pour it in a cup add sugar and cream and you are done.

Do you NOT have work to do? Oh no, here they come. CLICK CLACK!  STOMP! STOMP! As they trudge to their desk like the Jolly Green Giant. Can anyone walk normally? What are they wearing, cement shoes? Time to chat with their cubicle neighbors. These people do not speak in normal voices, they talk as loud as they possibly can. Pay attention to me! I often wonder why they talk loud enough for the entire office to hear yet they have to repeat these stories several times. Trust me, we ALL heard about your weekend the first time.

My coworker arrives and turns her walkie talkie on. As soon as the first call blares, I snap. “Can you please turn that off?” She is aware that I suffer from Misophonia and tries her best not to trigger me so she shuts it off. We keep the door closed to block out the office noises but the walls and doors are thin so it only muffles them a bit. Then it begins… 

Knock knock! Knock knock! Grrr. Please just come in. An employee walks in and starts to speak Spanish in a loud and high pitched voice. Tune it out, just tune it out. I can’t all I hear is rattling like the adult voices in a Peanuts show. Although the conversation only lasts a few minutes it seems like hours. I am trying so hard to focus on my work. When they exit our office it never fails that they leave the door ajar. A blast of sounds floods through the open door like a tidal wave in my head. I develop a knot in the pit of my stomach, nausea sets in as I close the door again.

Down the hall, the owner of the company is screaming on the phone to someone. It sounds like he is standing right next to me screaming in my ear. He is so loud and angry I can see the vein bulging in his neck through the walls. Someone walks in his office. SLAM! I jump. Why bother closing the door? We can all still hear his conversation because his normal voice is yelling.

More knocking on our door, more loud talking. I cannot take it. The sound of my keyboard and mouse clicking is driving me crazy. My blood is boiling as heat rises to my face. I would love to jump out of this window. Deep breathing, trying to give my complete focus to my job, but now there is someone in the office next door, the walls are vibrating with the sounds of their conversation. Mumble mumble mumble. Why is everyone so loud?

Lunchtime, probably one of the WORST times of the day. I eat my lunch at my desk because the last place I can be is in our kitchen. Eating noises, dishes clanging, this room is bane of my existence.   Regardless, I still cannot escape the obnoxious commotion of lunchtime. The kitchen is down the hall, but it sounds like it is right next to me. Deafening voices, laughing, cackling, this is a very rowdy crowd of people.

Strange how they always say how much they dislike each other but put them in a room and they become the noisiest crowd imaginable. Irately I blurt out “What the hell are they doing in there?”  My coworker senses that I am at my limit. She gets up and walks down the hall, things quiet down.  When she returns she tells me that she asked them to quiet down. Thank God! I am on the verge of tears but I have to hold it in. I find myself rocking to try to calm down, but it doesn’t work. A loud page blasts through my phone, I jump up grab the phone and toss it. Sadly it does not break, so I leave my phone off the hook so I do not have to hear the PA system.

Conversations… Why don’t these people understand simple office etiquette? They attempt to have a conversation by shouting at each other from several cubicles away. Is it really that difficult to walk over to someone’s cubicle and speak in a normal voice; or here is a novel idea, we have these devices on our desks called telephones, all you need to do it pick it up and talk to the person. This is an office not a playground. Have you ever heard of using an inside voice? There is no need for everyone in the office to hear your conversation.

Every office has the obnoxious employees that insist the only way to talk is to talk is if they speak over each other. Piercing nasal voices, one trying to out speak the other. Isn’t there a quieter way to get your point across? Will you please just SHUT UP?  

I am being paged by the owner to report to his office. Most likely he wants to ask me something that could easily be handled over the phone. I peek my head in his office. “What did you need?” He replies in aloud gruff voice, “HUH? WHAT? Uh…. Um, uh… hang on a second, oh I forgot what I wanted.” That gun is about to explode in my head. 

By mid-day I am emotionally and physically exhausted. My trigger tolerance is off the charts; I am anxious, nauseous and have a migraine. There is not a safe place to go to avoid the triggers. I have to hold my anger inside which feeds my anxiety. This place is like Miracle Grow for my triggers. I want to crawl out of my skin. Major sensory overload. Is it time to go home yet?

Some days are worse than others, working in Human Resources we constantly have employees in our office asking questions, complaining, etc. Many work in a loud production area, so they tend to speak louder without realizing it. Constant triggers all day long, staplers, shoes, talking, sneezing, phones ringing, the list is endless. 

Finally it is 4:00, time to go home! I am so wired from the day’s events. I really need to decompress. The moment I walk in the door the chaos continues. Dogs jumping all over me- happy to see me, wanting their dinner… NOW! The kids rush downstairs to greet me, not even giving me a chance to put my purse down. The only thing I want to do is sit down and relax which I finally get to do around 6:00. It has been a long day, thankfully I only have to do this once a week.

You are probably wondering, “why don’t you find another job?” I have spent 28 years of my life at this company; I grew up here. We are family. Sure they trigger me like crazy but I know deep in my heart that some of these people will always be there to support me.

Learn more about coping with misophonia in this 2 night class with Dr. Jennifer Brout. This class is for parents of misophonia kids/teens, adults with misophonia, and clinicians. Learn more here.