I blame Anthrax for the potential lawsuit that might derail my technical communicator career. And for terrifying the young woman, at whom I bellowed an apology, thus frightening dozens of surrounding co-workers.
But it could’ve just as easily been Billy Joel or Bon Jovi, Green Day or The Replacements, Garth Brooks or Godsmack … OK, so not Garth Brooks. Music is to me like a bullet wound to the Incredible Hulk – making me act-out in inappropriate ways while occasionally coming dangerously close to public nudity. And those dang earbuds are making matters worse.
Allow me to hop into the Way-Back Machine.
Where I work, iPods are allowed, meaning the roughly 3.6 billion or so people milling inside this architecturally stunning catacomb are all sorta oblivious, trapped within the blaring cacophony of whatever’s blaring in their ears at the moment.
Like the Beastie Boys once said, “A good mix tape can put you in the right mood.” Only today, it’s more a play list than a mix-tape, but the concept – like the song itself – remains the same. And given the crush of people roaming around this complex, I can only imagine the diversity of sonic tastes that are allowing each to get their proverbial groove on.
While some might like the country music stylings of Reba McEntire (“Here’s your once chance Fancy don’t let me down”) or Crystal Gayle (Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue), others might prefer Gregorian chanting or the soundtrack from Slumdog Millionaire. As for me on this particular morning, I was in a thrash metal mood … hence, Anthrax’s “Anti-social” – a hard-driving little diddy that was threatening to make my earlobes bleed as I strutted my way towards the bathroom.
I may have actually been throwing to Dio salute (AKA the “devil horns” as seen in hair metal videos and occasional TV commercials), when I came barreling around the corner and plowed into this unsuspecting little lady, almost tossing her against the water fountain. But to her credit she never lost her smile, at least not until I screamed, “I AM SOOO SORRY!!!,” forgetting that the noise-canceling earbuds made me shout like I’d just left a monster truck show.
After that, she scurried off to her cubicle, leaving me feeling like a total dolt.
When I’ve got my iPod on, I’m as dangerous as Cujo in a Snausage factory. I’m simply not accustomed to being out among normal people while listening to music. I’m usually out in the yard, where only the crickets are potentially harmed when I play air guitar to “Smoke on the Water” or shout out “Let’s Dance!” during “Footloose.” There’s no such thing as losing one’s social graces while mowing the lawn – mainly because I’m wearing a cut-off Charles Manson T-shirt and tall white sock – but also because, well, there’s nobody around to care.
Such behavior is not acceptable in the office. And I’ve got to remember that, for example, listening to N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton” while in line for spinach wrap in the cafeteria is not going to go over well, nor is miming the hand gestures to Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U – as both are apt to be misinterpreted by co-workers.
But I refuse to give up my Monday hype song. Nothing starts off a work week like Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” – me walking down the hall to, “Rising up, back on the street, did my time, took my chances.”
Maybe I’ll save Garth Brooks for my bathroom breaks … Nah!
Brett Buckner is an award-winning freelance newspaper/magazine writer who was raised in Albany.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org