That's what I found today. After moving into our new office digs back in June, I have been spending most lunch hours at my desk in an effort to either get my hours in during the week or just because of the arrangement of the new office setup is not conducive to quiet. Most days, I would sit at my desk getting depressed over reading the news, or being interrupted on every other bite from my boss who generally shows up around 11 every day. Not that sitting at my desk for 8 hours is relaxing, resting, or even remotely enjoyable. If it weren't for the Internet, well, you know, I'd go completely crazy here.
The new office setup is obviously designed for one purpose only: to make sure nothing anyone does goes unnoticed. No more cubicles or semi-private offices. Only the attorneys have doors they can close and hide behind (and I wish they would more often!). Each person's work station is set up so we face the walkway and the offices on the window sides of the building--yet most of us do not have any view of the outside. The paralegals have inner offices, no windows, and most are set back behind workstations like mine--meaning, I always have someone behind me or walking in front of me. I'm okay with blocking this out most of the time, but being the end person near the door, I get the most traffic, and the most requests for "where's so and so's office?" The only place of even semi privacy, up until I figured out something new today, was in the bathroom, and of course that's only limited. And not a place I'd want to eat lunch!
Today, I don't know what it was, but I was getting overwhelmed with noise, something I can usually block out. (Remember the woman on the treadmill?) Could it be the woman two stations down hacking constantly, sounding like she has a smoker's cough? (And she does this day in and day out.) Or how about the woman sitting behind me coughing, sputtering, and sniffling, telling everyone she's trying to fight off a cold, until I wanted to stuff a sock in her mouth? And she could shut her door, but of course she likes to be heard and seen for the attention, so it seemed like she exaggerated every cough and sniffle. Or maybe it was the 5 women who stand around and talk on and off all day long, right around the corner from me, who also monopolize the lunch room every day, one of whom cackles everytime she laughs, and today someone obviously was extremely funny, because she probably cackled a minimum of 20 times in the morning alone.
Complaining about noise, or anything for that matter, generally labels you as either a troublemaker or a tattletale, so unless there is some dire emergency, I rarely say anything to anyone and try to either solve problems for myself or avoid them as much as possible. HR doesn't do anything except send around an e-mail asking people to refrain from doing this or that, but being too "politically correct" (i.e., wimps) to deal with anyone about anything specifically.
So I took it upon myself to find a conference room and booked it for myself for the lunch time. It was heaven! A whole hour of quiet, where I was able to do the crossword puzzle without having to finish one some idiot started and messed up (I solved that problem by getting the extra copy from our lobby!) and eat my lunch in peace, without the cackling, the incessant drone of the news on the TV, the constant slamming of the door, and the constant foraging for food the lazy people who don't bring their lunches do. I definitely will be doing this again!