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Talk To Me Like It Is 1984

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I don’t know why it started. It was like someone hit a switch, and bang everything was Flipper.

Five days a week I get up, shower, drink coffee, get on the train and go to my job as a software developer for an evil corporation. I take my seat in an “open floor plan” in sector 7-G, where I turn on my computer, take off my headphones and dial into a string of conference calls disguised as Agile work. When those are mercifully over I put my headphones back on, resume the music where I left off and mindlessly type Oracle statements to protect our customer’s sacred data from prying eyes, script kiddies, “hackers” and Russians. This is the shape of things in my world. Come tomorrow I may be older, but come tomorrow I won’t be bolder. Or some shit.

So, a bit about me. I am a woman of a certain age. I grew up in the Ohio Valley. I graduated high school in 1983. I went to a nondescript state college. I was a punker. I guess that I still am a punker. To this day I love the hyper polka beat of a snare and high-hat teamed with pick driven bass and crunchy barre chords all swirling beneath a vaguely melodic vocal track shouting a rant or anthem to decadence. Oh, and by the way, Green Day and Blink 647, or whatever the fuck they are called are not punk.

After school I got married to a guy from the scene. We drunkenly fucked a bunch after shows because I liked his DRI tattoo and I eventually got knocked up with the first kid. The guy and I got married, bought a house in a marginal neighborhood and vegetated for a few years. We produced a few more mouth breathers who dog me to this day.

The father of my children graduated from skateboards and hardcore to rockabilly and right wing politics to being a tattoo artist slash “biker.” We split some time in the 90s when I couldn’t take anymore weed, Rush Limbaugh and Johnny Cash. All during this time I had my hardcore vinyl, CDs and eventually shitty MP3s. When the kids were being brats I could always escape via MDC by headphone, crack a beer and block out the negativity. When the ex was being a stoned idiot ranting about how tattoos are “real art, maaaan”, I could go into my office and crank some Black Flag. Henry, Chavo, Keith, didn’t matter they were all great.

I have carried this hardcore habit with me throughout my career as a developer and life in general. When I have to attend a boring work conference call – headphones and DOA. Sitting on the train next to a mouth-breathing douche tool who tries to make inane conversation while staring at my cleavage – headphones and Minor Threat. Standing in line trying to order some shitty takeout – headphones and Poison Idea. You get the picture. Total avoidance of crappy human interaction and social norms. I told you that I was still a punker. A punker trapped in an early 50s female body, living in a middle class corporate world that is drowning in a sea of apathy.

One day after a waterfall call masked as a standup call, where my boss, Samyuktheswari was talking on and on about how our project is in red status and about the wonders of DevOps, I went back to my desk, slipped on the headphones and cranked some Flipper. No sooner had I begun humming along with Sex Bomb did I clock Samyuktheswari turning the corner towards my work area with that “we need to have a long pointless conversation about the project” look in her eyes.

I turned the volume down as she approached and looked up as she said, “They went down to some cheap hotel and got all squishy and wet.” I looked at her as I took off the headphones and asked her to repeat what she said, thinking that I had confused her words with the Flipper playing softly on my iDevice. She tossed me an annoyed look and said, “ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, he, he, he, he, he, he, ho, ho, ho, ho ho, ho, ho.” The strange thing was that her lips looked to be saying something completely different from what I heard. Kind of like watching an American movie in Germany that has German voice overs.

Samyuktheswari just looked at me like I was disturbed and started pointing at my computer screen and continued rambling on, but all I heard was, “Hey little girl, do you need a ride? Well I’ve got room in my wagon why don’t you hop inside? We could cruise down Robert Street all night long. But I think I’ll just rape you and kill you instead.” I looked up and she was staring at me, all I could do was nod my head yes and look back at my computer as she walked away.

I sat there for what seemed like hours staring at my screen wondering what was going on. After about twenty minutes I shook myself out of the daze and went to the cafeteria to grab a coke and some chips. I paid for my stuff and sat down at one of the common tables. It was populated by many of my computer geek, nerd, co-workers. Guys who work on code all day then go home and play computer games all night. Many of these guys were in their twenties, but they looked like they were approaching fifty due to their rather unhealthy lifestyles. They were mostly harmless and easy to sit with because they didn’t talk much as they ate and stared at their phones hopelessly trying to get a date on some app, or virtually arguing about Star Wars, Trek or some other nerdism.

Regis, the guy seated next to me put his phone down on the table and said, “I make decision with precision lost inside this manned collision just to see that what is to be perfectly my fantasy I came to know with now dismay that in this world we all must pay, pay to write, pay to play pay to cum, pay to fight.” I mentioned kind of shockingly that I never knew that those were the lyrics. Regis just made a squish face, looked at me like I was nuts and went back to his phone.

I got up a little bit bleary, a little weary and tossed my chip bag into the trash and my Coke can into the recycling bin. At this moment my mind was wandering to weird thoughts of how maybe I had gone insane, most likely to all the drugs I did during college, or maybe suffering from some sort of hearing damage from my years of going to shows and standing by the mains as the bands played. But, I could still hear all the background noise as I walked back to my desk. I could make out the conversations people walking near me were having. As I neared my work area I could hear Steve from product management blathering on on a conference call about whose action item was whose. Obviously my hearing was intact and my sanity still present, because I could hear the conversations and I wanted to punch Steve.

When I walked past co-worker Freda’s desk she looked up at me and smiled and mouthed the word “hi” but I heard, “wild in the streets.” I smiled at her and went back to my desk, packed up my effects and went home.

That was six months ago. I still hear hardcore lyrics any time someone speaks to me directly. I can watch watch a movie or TeeVee or speak with someone on the telephone and hear their real words. Just face to face conversation is punk. I am getting rather good at lip reading, and hearing punk lyrics instead of people’s everyday inane jibber-jabber is rather cool. I have learned to like my current situation and think I’ll just roll with it and see where it goes. Maybe, in the future I’ll end up hearing real time conversations again. Maybe I’ll hear hardcore lyrics until my death. Either way I am fine, and actually I hope this affliction doesn’t stop, because I really hate listening to people yammer on. Gabba Gabba Hey!