The Muzak Man


When I’m at work I need to concentrate very hard on what I’m doing. This is because I’m a computer programmer, and my job is to focus on complex problem-solving tasks because if I didn’t, I’d hear a coworker start blathering on about Battlestar Galactica or some such shit, and if that happened I’d roll my eyes until they rolled right out of my fucking head. So I need to focus. And because I do, I rarely listen to music while working. It’s distracting, especially if I am listening to Led Zeppelin because once that happens, then I run the very real risk of Rocking The Fuck Out and attracting all the hot bitches to my cube. And then no one gets anything done. Not me, not the hot bitches, and not the drooling IT types outside my cube that couldn’t catch crabs in a whorehouse.

One time an overzealous facilities wench decided that she was in The Holiday Mood and that the entire office would be better off if we shared The Holiday Mood with her. So she turned on the never before used intercom system and began playing Christmas songs, which may have sounded great where she was sitting, but was decidedly much less so in my cube when I had to listen to Burl Fucking Ives command me to have a HOLLY JOLLY CHRISTMAS at 140 decibels. I complained immediately.

Me: Hi, is this facilities?

Wench: It is! Merry Christmas!

Me: Hey, a fat, bearded guy is accosting me in my cube.

Wench: Uhhh… what?

Me: Yeah, a big, fat dude with a beard is screaming in my ear. Something about having a Holly Jolly Christmas.

Wench: Oh. Haha, yeah, we thought it be a nice change of pace to have a little holiday music playing while we worked.

Me: Burl Ives is fucking screaming at me. Turn that shit off before you have a holly jolly programmer on top of a holly jolly clock-tower with a holly jolly high powered rifle, goddammit!

Burl Ives Fact #421: Burl Ives was the first male Oscar winner to use the trophy as a butt-plug.

Burl Ives Fact #421: Burl Ives was the first male Oscar winner to use the trophy as a butt-plug.

I suppose it would’ve been less annoying had the volume been at a reasonable level, but really, why should I have to listen to someone else’s music? I grew up with two parents who loved opera, for fuck sake. I shouldn’t have to listen to anyone else’s music but my own for the rest of my life.

My current job, luckily, has no intercom system in the office. The building the office is located in, however, is a different story. Up until a month ago, the intercom system played music from a local radio station that apparently plays nothing but Tainted Love by Soft Cell. I am not fucking kidding, I’d hear that song at least six times a day, every day. “You’re listening to KFKU, all Tainted Love, all the time!” I’d leave the office to use the restroom, Tainted Love. Go downstairs to stretch my legs, Tainted Love. Walk through the lobby on my way home, Tainted Love. “Sometimes I feel I’ve got to (doo doo) run away, I’ve got to (doo doo) get away.” No fucking shit, asshole.

That song sucked in the 80’s, why the fuck are they playing it now? “Hey, I’m a coked up, divorced radio executive who’s trapped in a dead-end job in a dying industry. You know what I think is cool? Tainted Love! Yeah, let’s play that a lot! I can listen to it and dream about the good old days when I used to spin records at a roller rink and if I was lucky, I’d feel up a fifteen year old behind the Space Invaders machine.”

Here’s my new rule: If the title of your song has the word “Taint” anywhere in it, I hate your fucking song and hope you and it die in a car fire. Fuck Tainted Love, fuck Soft Cell, fuck skinny 80’s ties, fuck poofy hair, and fuck the cockless wonder who decided to play this station on my building’s intercom. The only reason anyone liked that song in the 80’s was because everyone was coked out of their fucking gourds. That song sucks more ass than Richard Simmons being sat on by Elton John.

This is Soft Cell. In a just universe, they would have been shot, dragged through the streets, set on fire, and then resurrected for the specific purpose of giving them ass cancer.

This is Soft Cell. In a just universe, they would have been shot, dragged through the streets, set on fire, and then resurrected for the specific purpose of giving them ass cancer.

But then suddenly, about a month ago, something changed. I walked in and noticed… Nothing. No “doo doo” every five seconds, no cheesy synthesizers, no… No music! Instead, I heard people talking! Yes, people talking about things other than Tainted Love coming up after the commercial break! This was great! This was wonderful! This was… Oh, shit, this was NPR.

Ok, look, I know that to some people, listening to NPR is like getting a hand job from an angel or something. Whatever rocks your fucking boat, I guess. But I can’t stand NPR. Politics aside, NPR has way too much in common with FOX News: It’s slanted, often ill-informed, and if you want the real truth, you’ve got to go looking for it yourself. The only difference is that where FOX News tries to impress you with flashy graphics, NPR tries to bore you to fucking death instead.

Listening to NPR is like listening to people whisper bon mots at a fucking golf tournament. Speak the fuck up, asshole! I don’t need you shouting at me, but try to, you know, put some inflection in your speech. You sound like a fucking cadaver in a sound-proof booth. The one exception, though, is a woman that I really, really wish I couldn’t hear.

I don’t know her name, and I don’t know the name of the show. All I know is that she has the most incredible Old Bag voice I’ve ever heard. No matter what the sentence, you instantly feel the way you feel when you find yourself watching a sex scene in a movie while sitting next to your mom. The Old Bag could be discussing default credit swaps for all I know, but all I hear is “More and more seniors today are turning to felching to get much needed protein into their diet.” Disgusting! I don’t want to hear it! I hear this woman, and instantly my fingers are in my ears, my legs bolting for the door. LALALALALALALALA!!!

It's like listening to <a href="" target="_blank">Angela Lansbury discuss masturbating in a tub</a>. It just makes you want to die.

It’s like listening to Angela Lansbury discuss masturbating in a tub. It just makes you want to die.

And then, just as suddenly, the old bag was gone. She was replaced this week by another radio station, this one dedicated to playing the absolute worst songs from the 70’s worst genres. Here are just four of the songs I noticed being played today:

What kind of sick fuck intentionally plays this shit to a building full of innocent people? There are laws against this sort of thing. Article 21 of the Fourth Geneva Convention specifically states:

Convoys of vehicles or hospital trains on land or specially provided vessels on sea, conveying wounded and sick civilians, the infirm and maternity cases, shall be respected and protected in the same manner as the hospitals provided for in Article 18, and shall be marked, with the consent of the State, by the display of the distinctive emblem provided for in Article 38 of the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of 12 August 1949. And no harassing them by playing the fucking Bee Gees, ok?

Sure, that only holds in war time, but you know what I say to that? Fuck you, that’s what I say. I’d rather be goddamn waterboarded than listen to fucking All By Myself again, I don’t care if there is a war going on or not. That shit is cruel and unusual punishment.

Eric Carmen. He may have had a hit single, but for that hairstyle alone, he spent the rest of his life all by himself.

Eric Carmen. He may have had a hit single, but for that hairstyle alone, he spent the rest of his life all by himself.

26 Responses to “The Muzak Man”

  1. Becky says:

    Once again, you’ve made my day. I am SO sorry for all the abuse your ears are being subjected to. I would straight up kill someone if I had to listen to Rupert Holmes more than once every 6 months. My mom used to pull that crap with Christmas music. She’s on of those HOORAY IT’S CHRISTMAS WE MUST LISTEN TO THE SAME CHRISTIAN CHRISTMAS MUSIC FOR A WHOLE MONTH type. Ugh. By new years eve, I was ready to rip the radio out of the car and the kitchen.

    • Greg says:

      Yes, if you’re gonna do that to your kids, just cut to the chase and start hitting them. Way more honest.

  2. Groovekitten says:

    The NPR woman you’re talking about is Diane Rehm. She sounds like she’s had about 16 strokes back to back. I believe that NPR would receive many more donations if they would just put her out to pasture, which they should have done years ago. NOBODY wants to listen to that.

  3. MidLyfeMama says:

    I remember the first time I heard Diane Rehm speak. I usually have NPR on in the car, and had never heard her before. I was flumoxed. Who puts someone on the air that sounds like this??? Then I figured out who she was and googled her name. She has some sort of medical condition that causes her to sound this way. I forget what and am too lazy to look it up right now. But I still don’t want to hear her.

    I find Other People’s Music painful almost all of the time. I just don’t want to listen to music when I don’t want to listen to music. I sometimes have music on in my office, but mostly I don’t. I did an experiment once. When we are particularly busy, it is because students and their parents are arriving for the start of the new fall term, and they are usually in my office because they want me to pay the balance on their tuition bill. I was playing Mozart one day, just as soft background music, and people seemed particularly antagonistic and aggressive. I turned that off and put Chopin on. The rest of the day people were calm and nice. Could have been coicidence, maybe not. Now I just don’t play music.

    • Greg says:

      People are fucking weird when it comes to music. When I was little, my mom would play her classical music on the piano, and she noticed that whenever she played Grieg, my younger brother (2 or 3 at the time) would flip the fuck out.

      As for Diane Rehm, I just looked her up and she’s 76 this year, so she’s beginning to venture into old bagdom, voice issues or not. Anyway, I don’t bear her any ill will, and wish her success and free anal beads, or whatever floats her boat. I just can’t stand her voice.

  4. We are an office of graphic artists, and we all use spotify and pandora for our music needs. We used to have music wars. One young guy likes to listen to dub step club music, one old guy likes 70s rock, and our farty supervisor likes the Bee Gees. Since I am the only girl we have an unspoken agreement to play what *I* am in the mood for. It is NEVER the Bee Gees.

  5. Other people’s music is only slightly less enraging to me than listening to people chew in a quiet room. Earbuds were invented to save lives.

    It happens that “old bag” and “back to back strokes” got on the same page with Angela Landsbury talking about anything.

    I’m barely keeping my mind’s eye closed over here.

    • At the risk of it one day being used against me as a form of torture, I will divulge to you that my NUMERO UNO pet peeve is listening to people chew in a quiet room. My brother uses this tactic of torture when he wants to get back-handed.

      • Greg says:

        That’s what brothers are for, right?

        Ok, we’ll start working on a treaty. I deference to your issues, no one will play the Bee Gees in a room while loudly chewing anything.

    • Greg says:

      Lip smacking drives me into a fucking rage. I cannot abide lip smacking in any way, shape, or form. Another thing I can’t stand is greasy lips. So when we take the kids to the State Fair every year, I have to really watch myself because you will see people on rascal scooters (solely because they’re lazy), loudly smacking their greasy lips while eating entire turkey legs, and if I’m not careful, I’ll have killed a few people.

  6. lefty891 says:

    I worked in a warehouse that piped had piped-in muzak. Usually, this was pretty easy to tune out; but at Xmas time, they put on the channel with Burl Fucking Ives and cranked up the volume. They also played (incessantly) Shirley Bassey singing Sleigh Bells so fast that it was comprehensible only to the Chipmunks. Upon returning after Xmas day, I asked my supervisor it we couldn’t ditch that station. He just grimaced, and said that the only one with the ability to do that was on vacation ’til JANUARY FUCKING 7TH!!!
    Merry bloody Christmas.

  7. CassieCros13 says:

    Listening to other peoples music, ugh. It especially sucked in my freshman high school gym class, when kids would plug in their iPods and they would play fucking Party Rock Anthem to death. Along with that they would play Teach Me How To Dougie, Like a G6, Party In The USA, and a bunch of bullshit that we are supposed to call music now. I finally flipped out after they played three LMFAO songs in a row, and I plugged in my iPod and BLASTED Led Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll. Everyone in the room gave me the weirdest look, except for my gym teacher Mr.Strohmaier who was headbanging with a big grin on his face. I never saw him smile before that either, except for the occasional evil smiles he would give before making us do gruesome drills.

    • Greg says:

      I believe that if that hadn’t worked, you would have legally been allowed to attack everyone with a screwdriver.

      • CassieCros13 says:

        Haha, believe me I was on the verge of resorting to something very similar to that, those kids drove me batshit insane. I always have my iPod on me though, it has a painting of Jimmy Page for the lock screen and without it my first year of high school would of been hell. (I call it my personal bullshit blocker. 😀 )

  8. Vesta Vayne says:

    Aw man, I feel for you. All Tainted Love all the time would probably send me over the edge, and not in a good way.

    After high school I worked at a country restaurant for three years, which meant country music on the intercom. The month of December was awful, nothing but Honky Tonk Christmas, without any of the good ones.

    • Greg says:

      I can appreciate country music, just not the kind that most people associate with country. That’s over-commercialized, twangy-just-to-be-twangy, intentionally redneck bullshit, and if I had to listen to it, I would fuck some people up.

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