Monday, October 27, 2008

The Whistler

How do you tell a colleague — one you really like — that his/her high-pitched whistling is like an ice pick stabbing the back of your left eye over and over and over and over and over and over and over again?

I have always been sensitive to certain kinds of sounds, but to avoid coming off like a high-maintenance jerk, I've learned to cope. Mostly. I still can't deal with shrill whistling, no matter how in tune or jaunty. Last week in Publix, I silently cursed a particularly enthusiastic whistler, one I could not seem to escape. Apparently, we were out of the same items. By the time we reached the frozen food aisle, I was nearly homicidal.

To people who don't have sensory issues, this kind of complaint seems incredibly petty. It screams, "Get over yourself," so I just put my headphones on when the whistling cranks up. For all I know, the sound of my voice might be like nails down a chalkboard to him. Still, there are times when I would rather not write while listening to U2. I had an office at my old job, and when certain sounds got to be a little much — the nonstop giggling of one co-worker comes to mind — I could just shut the door.

I know I'm not the only one with this problem. When I complain via e-mail to off-site friends, some of them will respond with comments along the lines of, "Office whistlers and chronic throat-clearers should be killed." My friend V. says the sound of cracking knuckles drives her insane. For others, it's open-mouthed gum cracking or noises that imply the presence of phlegm.

Then again, I have a job, which is no small thing in this economy. And Pandora.

9 comments:

Zil said...

I never know what to do it these situations. I have a friend who talks very loudly (or at least it seems loud to me) but I don't want to be all "shhh" all the time. Generally, I just assume I must have some equally annoying trait and call it a wash. Of course, I tend to avoid confrontation like the plague so...

EDP said...

I have the same problem, zil. It's easier to just the headphones on and suck it up. He's a really nice guy. Otherwise, I might have to hurt him.

downtown guy said...

I'm a sometimes whistler, but when I catch myself doing it in the office I try to stop.

EDP said...

See, now I feel bad! It's not all whistling, just the really screechy kind that only I and dogs can hear.

downtown guy said...

No, I agree that it's usually annoying. It's like listening to someone's radio turned down so far you can only vaguely hear it.

refinnej63 said...

My father is probably one of those guys that drives you crazy. He drives me crazy too. He is a repetitive and compulsive whistler. He seems to only know about two or three short annoying tunes that he repeats over and over and over again until I am ready to scream. They are not actually tunes per se or even musical for that matter. Just quick repetitive bursts of the same two or three notes. I think they just give him some sort of oral sensory pleasure. Eeuww! Thinking about that just grossed me out.

EDP said...

LOL! My grandpa used to whistle all the time, but the tone wasn't quite as ... piercing as this is. I am such a freak.

The Irredeemable Shag said...

Poor V. I'm a chronic knuckle-popper and she sat right next to me for years. I feel bad now. :(

The Irredeemable Shag said...

Hmmmm... upon reading further posts, "V" may not be who I thought they were.

Sorry for any confusion.

The Mistaken Shag
http://onceuponageek.com