October 3, 2020 – Ms. Ophonia, why did you choose me?

I would like to sincerely apologize to all of my former employers and co-workers for driving you nuts during the time we spent together. I am sure most of you breathed a sigh of relief when you learned I was leaving and didn’t have to deal with me any longer. I only recently discovered that I have a ‘condition’, or should I say, have had a condition. I think most of you know by now that I’m just a tad neurotic, but this takes it to a whole new level. I’ve been sensitive to sounds, particularly ones generated by humans, for a very long time. I only realized what I had going on due to a podcast that my husband was listening to that featured Sarah Silverman being interviewed by Dax Shepard. “Honey, you need to hear this, it’s you!” he said. Sarah had been discussing how certain sounds would literally drive her to having homicidal thoughts.

For most people (from my perspective), they seem oblivious to the sounds that make me actually want to rip someone’s head off or run screaming out of the building. Oh, yes, it’s a b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l thing. What is it? Misophonia. Now, the reassuring thing is that I’ve actually met a few people in recent months that have this same ‘condition’, so it is a bit comforting to know I’m not alone in this. But, damn, it’s hard to work amongst people, especially children. I’ve worked a number of jobs in the customer service field where there tends to be a lot of foot traffic (which increases the chances of dealing with people making annoying sounds even greater). Some of my friends like to try and trigger me by making the noises that really stick in my craw. I am certain that they wouldn’t be as amused when I’ve put them in a headlock and tried to rip their head off. Sorry for the violent descriptions, but it really does bring out the rage in me.

At my last place of employment, before I was laid off due to Covid, I used to develop instant anxiety when I saw a particular ‘gentleman’ approaching the building. He had a certain affinity for the hard candy we kept in the lobby and would take it upon himself to spend approximately 20 minutes filling up his pockets (yes, I was watching the clock!) and then one by one, painstakingly pulling out one piece at a time, removing the plastic wrapper, popping it into his mouth and then loudly crunching until he had eaten it in its entirety, whereby he would then proceed to perform the very same action until he had consumed the entire batch. It wouldn’t have been so obnoxious if he didn’t do the very same thing before he exited the building. I actually got to the point that when I saw him walking up to the front entrance, I would race over to the candy jar and hide it before he got inside so I didn’t have to listen to the rattling and crunching. I know my actions seem extreme but I was trying to avoid ripping his head off. It really was for his own good, after all. I now refer to him as ‘The Rattler’.

Rattling plastic and crunching candy doesn’t even come close to the rage that overcomes me when someone snaps their gum or clicks their pen. One time we gave a ride to one of my husband’s co-workers to an event that was about an hour or so away. This poor guy didn’t know what he was walking into because he climbed into the backseat of our car and immediately started snapping his gum. I tried folks, I really tried. I thought of cuddly newborn babies and sweet little puppies with downy fur. I thought of soothing waterfalls and beautiful sunsets. It just didn’t work. I finally just reacted, bursting out, “Hand it over!!” He looked a little puzzled. “The gum”, I said. “I cannot take it anymore”. My poor husband was mortified and if he could have been anywhere else, I am sure he gladly would have. Unfortunately, he was the one driving and we were doing 70 miles per hour on a major interstate, so there was no escaping. As memory recalls, after the guy sheepishly placed his ABC gum into the Kleenex I thrust in his face, he didn’t say another word for the rest of the ride and after the event, he bummed a ride back with someone else. I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to deal with me either!

I am beginning to think that one of my siblings placed this curse on me when I entered the world. I had mentioned earlier, when I was introducing myself, that (at the time of my birth) each of my 8 siblings lovingly whispered blessings into my ear as they passed me from one to the next. I am PRETTY sure that a couple of them cursed me. Imagine how it must have been! There are already eight children and money and food are scarce. Now they’re supposed to welcome yet another child with a big mouth and a hearty appetite and share what meager portions they already have? If I were them, I would have cursed me, too! The lesson for today? Think twice before you snap your gum. Actually, do us both a favor and just don’t chew gum. Have mercy on us ‘Misophoniacs’ and suck on a mint instead.

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