Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Open letter to the student who takes his lunch every day in the main quad near my office

Dear Student,

For the record, I appreciate guerrilla art in which public spaces are transformed into performance spaces.

Your 80s-style boom box is not that. It's just loud. Really, really loud. I'm inside with my windows closed, and I still can't focus on anything more mentally taxing than blogging.

If it were a single day of this, I'd love it. Here's a guy who has found a way to challenge the way this space is used. Even the music itself -- old-school hip-hop -- is an interesting and even appealing choice (although right now you're spinning "Ghostbusters," so I'm not sure what to think about that).

But the fact that you're doing it every day has taken it out of the realm of the interesting and into a pathological need for attention (which you do not seem to be getting). Either that, or you're conducting a long-term psychology experiment to see how long people will pretend some social convention is not being transgressed when it actually is. In which case, I guess we're potentially back to interesting again.

In short, I can't decide if you're being unthinkingly obnoxious or deliberately provocative. I guess, for the moment, I'm going to treat you like I treat trolls on my blogs and figure that you feed on attention, making the best reaction none at all.** That's the approach that everyone anywhere near your vicinity seems to have adopted over the weeks: give this guy a wide berth.

But sweetie-pie, if the day ever comes when you do want someone to sit next to you -- or even within 30 feet of you -- when you eat lunch, you should really turn it down, or invest in a pair of headphones.

Keeping it real in my own way,


**This is actually my policy, and one I recommend for my readers/commenters: Do not feed the trolls.


R.B. said...

I am not opposed to sticking my head out the window, shouting, "OY!" and asking him to turn his totally rad but loud music down.

Anonymous said...

I would go out and tell him up front. You are trying to work and he is preventing you from doing it. There is not issue. He needs to turn it down. That doesn't mean be nasty, but you are in the right here. Ignoring him isn't helping you get your work done, even as it doesn't feed his need for attention.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

You guys and your kooky ideas about "direct action."

I've actually thought about it, but what I keep coming back to is that this guy is outside in community space, and that at this sort of university, we're all about the students, so I can't see myself lodging a complaint that the students are interfering with my job.

I am, however, contemplating making a tape of my own and just going out and sticking it in the tape player and turning it on, without a word. Would it solve the problem? Probably not. Would it be fun? Hells, yes.

Historiann said...

Make your revenge tape/CD all of really loud and obnoxious Dixieland Jazz, or Michael Bolton, or both. I can't decide which is more annoying.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Bear in mind, Historiann, that I will have to listen to whatever it is. So I'm thinking of a nice requiem mass.

Anonymous said...

Bagpipes. Especially piobaireachd. A really, really long one. I could send you whatever you like! (Gosh, who could I be, posting anonymously like this?)

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Anonymous, this suggestion is excellent...excellent!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Notorious . . . buy me a plane ticket and I will come out and play a piobaireachd or two live for his benefit. I'm sure all your colleagues would love that. Talk about performance art!

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize I play my music a bit too loud in my office. The guy next door told me to bring it down. He said that he had been hesitating to tell me all week, afraid of my reaction. I'm a pretty nice person. I hope these guys are nice people who haven't realized what they're doing. Good luck!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Anon, your situation is a very typical one, and I'd hope someone would tell me, too. You'll just have to trust me that this is a different situation. It would be very difficult for this person not to know.

Anthea said...

This reminds me of a time when I got into the lift of large building on campus where I stood beside a girl talking on her cellphone. It was infuriating since we all learned, including the prof who she was dissing, that she was annoyed with the grade that she'd just received a grade for her paper that she'd submitted the previous week. She was totally clueless that the entire lift was full and the rest of us might not want to hear her conversation. She refused to stop despite the numerous sharp inhaling of breath, short coughs etc. So just go and tell him since you've got to be blunt and to the point.