“Lift music is okay in lifts,” I thought to myself as I assended into the lofty heights of the tower to start my first day at work. Unfortunately, this building subjected its workers to the scourge of piped music in the work area as well.
Fortunately, it wasn’t Mantovani plays Abba ALL day – the music came and went around the floor in 15 minute intervals. I guess there was research that concluded that this would squeeze the last drop of productivity out of those subject to the intrusion.
For the first few months, the music came and went at a volume that was only noticeable if I was daydreaming. Let’s face it, that wasn’t never. It was my first job, I had no idea what I was doing, and that mattered.
It all went sour when someone on the other side of the floor got a promotion. This high flying team leader was now entitled to a cupboard-sized office. The trouble was, it was only after she was ensconced in the new centre of power that she realised that the nearest musak speaker was a tucked away beside her office, very much out of ear shot.
It must have seemed perfectly reasonable to her at the time. She contacted Building Management, and late one afternoon arranged for the one volume control for the whole floor to be increased so she could hum along happily inside her office.
I was on the phone to a client the next morning when we were hit with our first musak onslaught. I nearly dropped the phone in shock, but it made no difference as neither of the connected parties were now able to communicate effectively.
Things were slow in the area next to mine, and when the musak stomped over to their area, several wags hid under their desks until it was over. After the storm had passed, we gathered together as I imagine people do after an air-raid or earthquake, with bemused “What was THAT?” looks on their faces.
Our boss’s PA went straight into action, and by the next rotation, things had returned to normal.
On the other side of the floor, and unbeknown to us, our newly appointed team leader friend soon realised her musak tonic had disappeared, and was onto Building Management again like a shot.
The volume yo-yoed over the next few days, and it took ages to work out who was behind the requests to increase the volume. Ear-muffs started to appear on desks for self protection. It was at this point that senior management became aware of the issue, and resolutely took no action.
After 10 days, the poor guy in Building Management was heartily sick of being constantly contacted to adjust the musak volume. It was fortunate there weren’t any emergencies, as he simply stopped answering his phone.
The afternoon on that second Friday was dragging, and the liquid lunch that had been called earlier had not yielded any revised tactics.
I was bracing for our next onslaught when the guy next to me caught my eye, made a quick “snip snip” action with his fingers, and a simple plan was hatched.
We waited until after five, and nonchalantly lifted my desk on top of his. Well, we tried to do it nonchalantly, the desk weighed a tonne but it least it was unadorned with technology. I braced it while he climbed to the top, lifted the ceiling panel, snipped the speaker wires, returned the panel and climbed down again. It was done in 40 seconds.
Friday night drinks were well under way when we arrived, and secretly toasted our success. Little victories are sometimes the sweetest.