29 October 2006

Player Etiquette: The Rebuttal

Before my iPod I had a PalmOne gadget with an mp3 player. Before that I had a Sony Palm OS gadget with an mp3 player. Before that I had a Handspring gadget with an mp3 player. And before that I had a CD player. And even earlier I had various flavors of cassette players.

So basically I have had some sort of portable music gadget in service since 1992. I have reasons why I listen to music, recorded books, radio shows, and podcasts while I am working. Early in my work years it was because I was basically a filing clerk working for a temp agency and the shows and music helped me get through the monotony of lowest-rung office work. The same thing was true during my years as a typist. I guess people might have a problem with a perceived inaccesibility on my part but I really don't care anything about that.

Margaret Mason at themorningnews dot org has some very well-presented insights into player etiquette. My argument is the iPod is useful for drawing necesssary boundaries in the workplace. I am the "go-to" guy at work. That means several times a night I have to un-stick people from computer-related predicaments that they wander into. Now there are legitimate problems and there are lunkhead problems. This latter is something I feel I am contributing to by always coming to the rescue. So if the iPod is making some people who would be taking up my time with issues they need to figure a way out of for themselves not want to "bother" me, then their feeling is probably correct.

Another place where I believe it is appropriate to hang a do-not-disturb sign on your nose is in placest with a high degree of personal conversation going on. In a restaurant I do need to interact with the waiter but I don't need to interact with the people at the next table. I can hit the pause button to tell the waiter for the umpteenth time that everything is okay, which is the standard question during restaurant dining. In the office, If the discussions going on around me don't concern me and are subjects of no interest to me, why should I be forced to hear them simply to spare people's feelings? The same is true for lunches and breaks. I hold that that is my personal time and if I don't want to talk when I am trying to read my book why should I be expected to want to talk when I am listening to my music? What right do coworkers have to me during my personal time away from the desk? I see no reason to recognize it.

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