When I teach, I either do it in total awe-inspiring silence or I pick one of two Pandora stations I listen to: 80s rock or French cafe. Outside of class, I like to listen to a lot of different music, but I usually settle on classic rock, some indie stuff, or really angry women shouting at my ears.
However, I don’t really play music while I’m in my office. At both of my jobs, I share an office with at least two other people, so I don’t really want to inflict any of my music on them. I don’t think the people around me need to know how much I replay the same three albums, and I certainly don’t want them to know that I take more than a guilty pleasure in certain shameful pop songs. Apparently, someone in my office does not have the same harmonic boundaries as me because I’ve spent the last few minutes hearing “She’s got it, Yeah baby she’s got it.” Normally, this wouldn’t be so bad. I kind of like this song, and sometimes I even like to listen to music while I work, provided it doesn’t make it impossible to think anything beyond repeating the lyrics in my head. But why did he have to pick a song that will be firmly lodged in my head for the rest of 2018. Why is he playing it just loud enough that people walking by our door can hear it, but people down the hall can’t, so they won’t complain. And why the fuck is he wearing headphones if his music is absolutely not playing on them. I am annoyed in the same way you get annoyed at a vending machine that gave you the wrong fattening cheesy snack: yes, this is almost acceptable, but I did not want this exact one and you’ve pushed it on me anyway, and now I want to shake you until you give me what I want.
Is there an appropriate way to retaliate against someone forcing catchy tunes into your head? Can that constitute some form of mental assault. I don’t know how much legal precedent there is for psychic crimes, but I’m pretty sure getting a song stuck in someone’s head is comparable to some crimes that . violate the Geneva Convention.
Whenever I teach in December, some of my students inevitably ask me to play Christmas music during class. There are a lot of reasons why I refuse to do that, starting with the fact that not everyone in class celebrates Christmas and ending with I’ve heard fucking Holly Jolly Christmas at Safeway too damn much already. I’ve found the best way to get them to stop asking for holiday music is by playing it. Except, I want to be inclusive, so I play a song from every religion or affiliation I can think of. Except, I only have a 50-minute class, I also play them all at the same time. I put my students through a solid minute of discordant, diverse holiday shrieking. They never ask for it again.
Is there a way I can do that in response to my officemate’s music? I know I’m reaching peak passive aggressive, but I’ve got a weak of this job left, and I want to have fun with it. I’m thinking of very quietly playing Christmas music, then slowly starting up some Halloween, then adding in some show tunes just to make my little corner of the office seem like a real trainwreck. Maybe I’ll whisper lines from totally different songs to myself the entire time too. I want to sound like a witch quietly whispering to a computer screen that coos unintelligible holiday tunes back to me.
My goal is to use a quiet, insane montage to make this person to think I am an actual crazy person. I might even sway a little in my seat. I don’t have a lighter, but I could just color my thumb orange. This person’s opinion of me has no stakes. There is nothing charred ruin of this burned bridge will bar me from. I’ve already got a job for summer, and the worst thing he could say about me is that I have weird taste in music. If he complains, then I can say I thought it was alright to play my own music because he was playing his. I am guilty only of having really strange taste in music. The psychic assault started with Venus, but it’s ending with me, incoherently muttering weird show tunes and waving my orange thumb to the sky.