happened long, long ago but I still remember a Baytown Sun wire
editor who constantly drummed on his desk in the newsroom, using
a pencil as a drumstick. Ratta-tat-tat, ratta-tat-tat. He drove
No one else seemed to notice until I mentioned his nervous habit
one day to my co-workers. After that, they too had trouble tuning
Although Drummer Boy was not the only noise maker in our workplace,
the clicking manual typewriters (I told you it was long ago), AP
machine, ringing phones and everyone yakking at once didn't faze
us. We were used to all that racket but we couldn't adjust to the
one-man drum line.
He worked at The Sun for only a brief time, and I never knew whether
he was dismissed for lack of rhythm or lack of competence. I don't
even remember his name. ("We hardly knew ye, but we could hear ye
I only hope Gene Krupa (not his real name) was able to find a job
in another newsroom or perhaps a dance band.
Let's see now. What else is on the list of irritants to the ears.
People who chew gum not quietly, smacking and popping. Wouldn't
you just like to smack 'em in the mouth.
People who munch loudly on popcorn in the movie theater.
People who rev up their lawn mowers early on Saturday morning when
neighbors are trying to sleep late. Why can't they make silent lawn
mowers? Huh? And while they're at it, put a silencer on motorcycles.
People who conduct private conversations on cell phones in public,
loud enough to provide too much information to anyone within hearing
That's something I don't do - over-divulge on the phone - because
most of my phone time is spent on hold, listening to music while
waiting, waiting. Finally I hear a voice, recorded of course, explaining
that their menu has changed and to punch a certain number on my
phone. I get that a lot - "the menu has changed." I don't care how
many times they change the menu; I just want to be served. I want
to talk to whomever about whatever and the sooner the whenever,
the better. (I'm putting this in writing now because no one will
listen to me.)
And how about
those robo calls in regard to upcoming appointments. In a lifeless
monotone the robot says, "This is an im-por-tant message ... for.......
(long pause for the robot to figure out what my name is)... Wan…da
When I appear for my appointment and the desk person asks my name,
one of these days I am going to respond in a robo monotone: "I am
… (pause) … Wan…da … Or…ton." Then in stiff, herky-jerky robo motion,
write my name (Wan…da…Or…ton) on the sign-in sheet.
Were it not for the mute button, TV commercials would force me out
of the house. A roaring lawn mower would be more inviting than the
ear-splitting shrieks of a hyperactive salesman on TV.
commercials, though, are not the worst of it, because we can zap
them out with the mute button.
On the other
hand, laugh tracks on TV sitcoms can't be muted. It's impossible
to separate the laugh-out-loud crowd from the actors.
I must warn viewers that once you become acutely aware of canned
laughter on TV, you will go nuts.
Pretend I never
© Wanda Orton
Baytown Sun Columnist, March 8, 2015 column
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