Brett Buckner: The iPod in office etiquette
Oct 07, 2012 | 1504 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I blame Anthrax for the potential lawsuit that might derail my career as a technical communicator. It was Anthrax that terrified the young woman, at whom I bellowed an apology, thus frightening dozens of co-workers.

But it could’ve just as easily been Billy Joel or Bon Jovi, Green Day or The Replacements, Garth Brooks or Godsmack … OK, so not Garth Brooks.

Music is to me like a bullet wound to the Incredible Hulk — making me act out in inappropriate ways while occasionally coming dangerously close to public nudity. Those dang earbuds only make matters worse.

Where I work, iPods are allowed, meaning that the roughly 3.6 billion people milling inside this architecturally stunning catacomb are all sort of oblivious, trapped within the cacophony of whatever’s blaring in their ears at the moment.

Like the Beastie Boys once said, “A good mix tape can put you in the right mood.” Only today, it’s more a playlist than a mix-tape, but the concept — like the song — remains the same. Given the crush of people roaming around this complex, I can only imagine the diversity of sonic tastes that are allowing each to get their proverbial groove on.

As for me on this particular morning, I was in a thrash metal mood … hence, Anthrax’s “Anti-social,” a hard-driving little ditty that was threatening to make my earlobes bleed as I strutted my way toward the bathroom.

I may have actually been throwing the Dio salute (aka the “devil horns” as seen in hair metal videos and occasional TV commercials) when I came barreling around the corner and plowed into this unsuspecting little lady, almost tossing her against the water fountain. To her credit, she never lost her smile, at least not until I screamed, “I AM SOOO SORRY!!!” I forgot that the noise-canceling earbuds make me shout like I’ve just left a monster truck show.

She scurried off to her cubicle, leaving me feeling like a total dolt.

When I’ve got my iPod on, I’m as dangerous as Cujo in a Snausage factory. I’m simply not accustomed to being out among normal people while listening to music. I’m usually out in the yard, where only the crickets are potentially harmed when I play air guitar to “Smoke on the Water” or shout out, “Let’s Dance!” during “Footloose.” There’s no such thing as losing one’s social graces while mowing the lawn, mainly because I’m wearing a cut-off Charles Manson T-shirt and tall white socks — but also because, well, there’s nobody around to care.

Such behavior is not acceptable in the office. I’ve got to remember that, for example, listening to N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton” while in line for a spinach wrap in the cafeteria is not going to go over well. Nor is miming the hand gestures to Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U.” Both are apt to be misinterpreted by co-workers.

But I refuse to give up my Monday hype song. Nothing starts off a workweek like Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” me walking down the hall to, “Rising up, back on the street, did my time, took my chances.”

Maybe I’ll save Garth Brooks for my bathroom breaks.

Contact Brett Buckner at
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