400 words on work

I wrote a short 400-word piece of micro-writing for a site called 400 Words. I submitted it once and it was sent back with an e-mail error. I’ve submitted it again, but I’m going to post it here as well, just in case it never makes publication.

There’s a hum in my cubicle.

It’s filling the space between my ears. It’s not loud. But in my mind, it gets louder, slowly drowning out all other recognizable sounds. If I focus on it, it gets even louder. I put on my headphones. The hum is still there when I pull them away, persisting in a state of stasis, never adding or subtracting decibels, always becoming more apparent as I stare blindly at my computer, wishing the hum would just leave – just get the hell out of my cubicle and deliver itself on down the line.

I’m a writer, and writing becomes difficult when there’s a hum in the room. It distracts me. It’s frustrating. It’s constant. It continues to mock me, to scream at me, to remind me that I’ll never be Hemingway, that my career is worthless, that I might as well surf the Internet a bit more and let everything wash out like a road map in the back seat of a car.

I write advertising, which to many people is a hum all its own. It’s a thankless, nameless profession. I am responsible for trying to persuade you that a trek to the grocery store for a candy bar is a good idea. Even when you come home and watch another commercial while eating your candy bar, my job is the same. To sell you another candy bar. My ultimate goal is to get you to buy a second candy bar, even after you’ve already eaten the first one – to make you get off of your couch, where you are sitting comfortably without a candy bar, with a stomach full of your first candy bar. To worm my way into your brain again.

Like this humming. Mostly, you drown me out. It all sounds the same. I can’t help that: it is all the same. Toilet paper, candy bars, political candidates, electronics, feminine hygiene, crackers, vehicles. Everything you see is persuasive. And you don’t care anymore. You’re used to it.

The only time you can ignore it is when you are fully engaged in something else. That’s when the advertising goes away. That’s when the hum goes away; when the bleating announcers and the picture perfect products melt away, leaving nothing but a blank screen where a television signal once belonged.

Maybe the humming is just a generator. I’ve never figured it out.

This was lovingly handwritten on January 12th, 2007