Bristle While You Work

I’ve spent pretty much all my working life, those times when I’ve actually had a job anyway, working in places where music is played constantly throughout the workday, and I know how emotional people get about what they like to listen to when they work. I knpw places where fistfights have broken out over what kind of music is played, and one place where they had to come to an agreement where they listen to one kind of music on certain days and another on a dfferent day. Personally I like a little peace and quiet when I work, music is a distraction for me when it’s music I like, and an annoyance when it’s music I don’t like. I despise any top 40 radio station of any genre, because they tend to play the same music over and over again, and that’s irritating to me when it’s music I like. I still remember calling up the DJ at a “classic rock” radio station in Atlanta and telling her “I happen to know for a fact that the Beatles sang more than six songs”. I gave up listening to radio by choice around 1975, tired of loud commercials and idiotic DJ’s talking over the music.

I do like listening to music, obviously: at last count I had over 24,000 songs, more than 100 GB of assorted music in my music directory, running the gamut from punk rock to 40’s ballads, showtunes, music from movies and TV, anime soundtracks, comedy and other “novelty” songs, alternative, you name it, there’s a song or two in every genre that I’ll admit to liking. And when I listen to my music, I really tend to get into it: I don’t read or write or do anything else. Looks kinda silly really, though Cathy didn’t think so. But I don’t listen all the time. Like I said, I prefer a little peace and quiet. That’s not even an age thing, I’ve been like that as far back as I remember.

Now lately I have been forced to work at a lot of low-wage, low-skill jobs that are populated mostly by black people, which is fine, because I get along with black people pretty well: most of them, at least the ones I work with, are like me, in the lower middle class and we have a lot in common, and I’m pretty comfortable around them, more comfortable than I would be around, say, hipsters. But the one thing that really annoys me about working with black people is that they never want to listen to anything but hip hop, they want to listen to it loud, and they take offense when anyone suggests they change it or make them lower the volume of it or if people have the nerve to tell them what a piece of shit most hip hop music is, which of course it is. That’s not an issue of debate with me, it’s just horrible, horrible music that is pretty much the lowest common denominator, and the fact that it’s been the dominant form of music for the last almost thirty years means nothing to me.

And you know it would be OK if they listen to rap music as part of a variety of music, like I said, even I like one or two songs in every genre. Even if it was a race thing and they wanted to listen to nothing but music by black performers, that would be great, because you know, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, Gladys Knight, Nat King Cole, Diana Ross, Billy Preston, Dionne Warwick, Michael Jackson, I mean seriously, that’s some of the best music ever made. But they don’t do that. It’s the same thing over and over, day in and day out, hour after hour of mind-numbing, brain cell killing garbage. And most of it is the absolute worst kind: motherfucker this and nigger that and bitch and ho and “look at the money I got”, I mean how do people do that to themselves?

If there’s a genre of music I like more than any other, it would be what we now call “classic rock”. The Beatles first and foremost of course, but even within that genre the music is very diverse: from Pink Floyd and ELO to The Sex Pistols and Nirvana, lighter stuff like Paul Simon, great voices like Linda Ronstadt and Freddie Mercury, there’s a ton of variety even within the classic rock genre.

But if I were to go in to work with seven hours (a normal shift) of self-picked programming of all the kinds of music I like, within fifteen minutes my co-workers, who don’t seem to understand why I make such a big deal over it, would be looking for an excuse to leave, or screaming bloody murder to turn it off. Yet meanwhile I am expected to “be considerate” and just accept the fact that this is what we’re playing so fuck you. And that’s what really pisses me off. There’s no point in trying to force them to change it, or even turn the volume down, that’s what they want to hear and nothing else. I’ve told them to their faces that they ought to be ashamed of themselves for listening to it, I think it deadens their minds and it speaks volumes about their character, or lack thereof, that they demand that everyone else just go along with it. It’s the kind of thing that, if I didn’t so desperately need the work, I would leave what is an otherwise very good job rather than be subjected to what amounts to me as pure torture. Don’t tell me to “tune it out”, that’s hard to do when the music is so loud you almost have to yell to be heard over it.

Anyway, that’s my rant.