Many of the guys at my work are in training this week, all week. (Note: when I use the word "guys", I'm not being sexist. They really are guys, as in male. I'm an engineer. Four girls counting myself work in my area, and they're all accounted for. They are not in this particular training class.) What this training means for me is that most of the cubicles are empty, and silence pervades the room.
Silence and I aren't very good friends. I can appreciate it, especially at night, but I don't find it necessary to sleep. During the day I can't stand it. When I do homework, I do it with the TV on. Believe it or not, I'm way more productive with some good old Stargate:SG-1 playing in the background than I am in silence. Usually at work the voices of the guys floating over the gray cubicle walls provide more than enough background noise. However, this week they have all be in training.
I am less productive listening to music than I am wish a TV on (I know strange), but I am still the least productive with silence. I think I have listened to every musical on my iPod this week twice. Today I listened to Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Aida. However, music is no substitute for conversation.
And there have been awesome conversations in my office.
The guy in the cube across from me, let's call him Dan, and one of the other younger guys, let's call him Josh, are really good friends. Josh often comes and hangs out in Dan's cube. The conversations that happen there are awesome. One day they're talking about sky diving, the next they are debating anti-gravity. I don't know about you but a good scientific debate is great background conversation for productive work.
Our chief mechanical engineer is also quite a chatty fellow. This PhD likes to wander up and down the cubes and talk about everything from car racing, to movies, to work. He is not in training, but without people to talk to, he remains in his cube.
I remember walking by an office one day and only hearing "Klingon". I just had to stop. I mean - they were talking about Star Trek! Yet another great cubicle conversation.
Without these conversations this week I have been lost and desolute. I have been staring at models on my computer trying to ignore the oppressive silence. But have you ever noticed how loud silence is? You can't escape it. Even with my earbuds in, listening to my iPod, I can still tell that behind all that awesome musicalness is silence. I hate it.
Am I the only person like this? Maybe. Is it a problem? Maybe.
I think I have the answer, though. Download episodes of Stargate:SG-1 onto my iPod. Then I can listen to good old Colonel O'Neill and Dr. Daniel Jackson argue philosophy while Samantha Carter fixes the actual problem. Good times.