Stuck in your head?
Yep. Every song lyric from our past bring immediate recognition. From childhood, we were all conditioned to follow certain schedules that were largely organized and governed by the ringing of bells. The recess one was a favorite one of mine. An old gentleman, Mr. Ivan Pavlov, has already proven the powerful impact of this classical conditioning based on sound and noise that set us all into necessary, established systems of societal normalcy. So, we all try to be good people, follow the rules to get up early, turn off the alarm, drive to work, follow the red light/green lights. Pavlov-driven well-intentioned people, we are. On the flip side of Ivan’s theory of sound-driven human obedience, there were two people who started their own little project in a garage: Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. These two fellows and their friends at NASA built a system of Pavlov rule-breaking technology that has changed the sounds and noises around all of us during COVID-19.
In my personal and career life, I have developed a conditioned response to the many sounds of alarm clocks, microwave beeps, dryer buzzes, telephones. I jump and respond to every single one. During COVID-19, I feel like the nearly extinct, unable-to-adapt Red-Cockaded Woodpecker. I feel like a Gopher Tortoise needing a safe perimeter of protection. Help! When my company sent me home to work, my ability to cope with new noise came under attack.
First, it was the War of Retired Men with Motorized Yard Devices. WoRMMYs. My fellow retired neighbor men have nothing else to do with their day other than to bring out their very loud mowers, blowers, saws, and other accoutrements. Oh, and pressure washers – all the craze. I live in the most well-manicured azalea cul-de-sac in Hattiesburg. Well, except for my place – I embarrass them!
Second, it was the birds. PSTHU. I will let you figure that acronym out. Alfred Hitchcock can’t possibly articulate the creepiness or ferocity of the sounds of the birds outside. Birds produce sound through an organ unique to themselves, the syrinx. In many birds, the syrinx is not much bigger than a raindrop. Extremely efficient, it uses nearly all the air that passes through it. By contrast, a human creates sound using only 2% of the air exhaled through the larynx. Birds are exceptionally productive at using their tiny resources to speak. Birds are TOO loud.
Then, we have these call-in conference calls that microphones the voices of men whose voices are a very, deep lower bass and resonate in my ear like a tympanic drum roll – a bit overwhelming. I am terribly nervous to speak in every situation and choke on my 2% capacity when asked to do so. Therefore, I, with the outside noises and the deep sounds of my fellow men co-workers, struggle with morning conference calls. I didn’t even mention the crickets and frogs.
Thankfully, for myself, my wonderful employer, my customers, and the amazing mill employees and folks with whom I work, I moved my home office upstairs to an insulated room – NOT padded – might I say. Don’t send the wardens just yet. I moved the desk upstairs to an unused space in the attic. Here, I built an office that drowns out the sounds to which my brain is not yet equipped to cope, focus, and adapt. Mr. Pavlov is correct in his proof that noise and sounds do guide our behavior. The new and unadapted therefore to sounds in my home office have affected my ability to cope and provide the same customer service. I had to adapt and change my environment to survive. On the flip side, I am grateful to technology and its impact on keeping our business running. I sincerely hope to continue selling wood from here in my quiet, wonderful upstairs office; and I hope all of us who found quiet places have held on to our initial evolutionary-office-coping noise skills, too, in case we must go back.
“Out on the Street the Traffic starts Jumpin’
Delivery Drivers delivering Somethin’
To Folks like us booted up on the Wi Fi”
[In light of current events, Merchant and BPD e-Weekly will now feature Letters From the Industry, guest contributors offering the industry their thoughts, perspectives and advice. This is NOT paid advertising but rather part of our service to the industry in contrast to the ongoing 24/7news cycle we are faced with. If you have thoughts to share, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Take care of yourselves, and each other.]