I’m sitting in an Evil Franchise* that dispenses legal crack,
trying to work. On the agenda: a manuscript to revise for hoped-for
publication, clients to call, researchers to recruit and train, forty+ emails
to reply to and a blog post for CGO to write. I worked in my office all morning
and most of the afternoon, but my attention span started leaking, so I fled to
the nearest coffeehouse for a fresh environment.
The Evil Franchise* has a cushioned bench about seven feet
long, and three small round tables positioned in front of the bench. I’m one of
three guys using the tables for our computers. Both of the other guys appear to
be in their mid-late twenties.
The Evil Franchise* generates a fair amount of noise with
its java paraphernalia and loud music, but two of us are laboring silently. The
other quiet guy is perched over his laptop in a posture that suggests…intimacy.
He appears to have a relationship with his laptop. He works his keys smoothly,
lovingly and I wonder if this is what Zen looks like.
The third guy? He’s a thumper. Amidst pauses and occasional light keystokes he thunks his keys. Thunk, Thunk…….Thunk…..ThunkThunkTHUNK. Over and over. And over. Thumper reminds me
of a Christian concert pianist I once saw, who, afflicted with boundless
narcissism, pounded the piano keys in a visual equivalent of a cacophony. (Is
there a word for that? Maybe “one person melee”.)
I’m hearing impaired in one ear (for real) but Thumper is on
my better side, and his thunking penetrates the ambient noise of the Evil
Franchise*. For ten minutes I try to soldier
on, but I can barely focus with the thunking. I look at him a few times,
wondering if subtle forms of non-verbal communication might trigger his
awareness of the auditory pollution he’s generating. No.
Then commences the internal debate. Is his noisy clacking
appropriate in a public setting? Am I
being selfish? Is he being selfish? Are
we both being selfish? Should I try another ten minutes of trying to get work done
amidst the distraction? Should I leave? Does the fact that we arrived at the
bench at precisely the same moment matter? Does Christian love mean I just
leave the Evil Franchise* and find a different place to work? Does Christian
forbearance require that I simply endure, and do the best I can where I am,
even though ten minutes have shown little will be accomplished? Read more