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All the annoying office sounds that make you want to die – ranked

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Gary Ogden
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It’s possible to actually enjoy a day at work, you know? However – and it’s a big HOWEVER – there are a great number of potentially ruinous office elements always waiting around every corner, poised and ready to ruin your day.

The queue for the water machine, the over-crowded kitchen, the blocked toilet second from left in the men’s bogs, Baz from accounts; all extremely frustrating. But really, it’s the cacophonous deluge of all-pervading office sounds that have the biggest potential to fuck it all up for you (me).

There they are, all around you, slowly scraping their claws into your misophonia, winding you up to dangerous levels of frustration and anger, making you hate the very soul of the person sitting next to you just because they’re breathing too heavily. Urging you to end that bloke who sits behind you because he clicks the mouse too hard. Forcing you to pray for your entire skull to disappear into a vortex like the house at the end of Poltergeist, just because your boss has a runny nose.

But which noises are the most ear-stabbingly annoying? Well, put your fucking headphones in, cowboy, because I’ll tell you – in order of easiest to bear, down to the very worst:

13. Merrily tapping your foot onto something metal under the desk

This is a very easy habit to get sucked into, and I’m certainly guilty of it sometimes, but it can be quite a prominent office distraction. Thankfully, it’s often quite quiet (seeing as it all goes on down by the floor), so that’s why it’s first on the list. It’s there to ease you in before you get ready to tighten your ear into a sturdy vice and jerk your head sideways really quickly.

12. Tap-tappy-tap-TAP-A-TAP-TAP-TAPPING your nails on the desk

There's no need for this, you lot – it does nothing but infuriate everyone in the immediate vicinity. The next time you see a coworker pouring quick-set grout into their ears, it probably means you’re doing it. Just trim your nails – it’s the perfect cure. 

11. Typing as though each finger is a fucking hammer

The good thing about most computer keyboards is that they are incredibly sensitive, so there really is no possible reason for you to be banging those keys so hard (especially the poor space-bar, chill out). They are not pressure sensitive, so punching them as though they’ve personally wronged you in some way won’t make the letters bold or something.

Just treat each innocent key like a tiny egg and there’ll be no reason for anyone to feed their ears through the paper shredder.

10. Clicking the mouse with the force of a thousand hurricanes

Again, much like keyboards, mice are not designed to be jack-hammered like a rogue builder, they'll pick up your delicate commands without you having to put the slightest modicum of effort in. Gently caress the surface of the mouse if you want to click a link, don’t do a fucking elbow drop off the ropes because it won’t make a difference. You run the risk of two things: breaking the mouse and/or having everyone in the office overly-aggressively click YOU, in your EYES.

9. Sniffing with the aggressiveness of a malfunctioning hoover

This isn't really your fault, but you know what, it’s not a lot of people’s fault that they’re annoying – it’s just something unavoidable that happens. Yes, I’m being a hypocrite because I’ve done it when I’ve had a cold, as well as whenever I eat a lunch that has just a single grain of spice in it.

Also, the alternative to doing it – unlike everything else on this list – is even worse. Stop sniffing and you’ve got yourself a glistening ledge of slime above your mouth, and ain’t nobody gonna kiss you in the broom cupboard with one of those.

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8. Breathing like you’re a NOS-powered leaf-blower or something

I feel bad getting angry at people for breathing – it’s an essential life process, and if everybody just stopped like I wished they would, then they’d die. That’s bad for productivity, I’ve found. But really, I am totally fine with your breathing unless you do it through a blocked nose, or easily the worst method: through your teeth. There is never a good reason to do that – it makes a high pitched hiss that you can definitely hear yourself, so stop it.

Also, your breath absolutely ranks, mate – get those mints in before you breach my desk-space, you absolute sarlacc.

7. Slurping drinks like a wildebeest who’s just spotted a cheetah at its watering hole

It is extremely easy to swallow a drink quietly (unless you're in the pub, ennit lads?), so this hair-brained scheme you’ve got going on that involves doing it loudly? Well, ditch it – it’s headed for disaster. Not only does it increase the chance of spillage, it also emits a radar-disrupting warble that would make a hundred late-2000s dubstep producers shit themselves. It is an incorrect method of drinking – you are not the office dog.

6. Banging a fork against your teeth like you’re trying to dislodge a wasps’ nest from your gutter using a rake

Have you ever tried to kick over a gravestone? It's quite hard, as it happens, and so is trying to dislodge a tooth with a fork. Also, like kicking over a gravestone, it is disrespectful and you shouldn't do it.

5. Frantically scraping your cutlery about on a plate like you’re a cat trying to bury its poo underneath a blackboard

So, I'll admit it, not every sound on this list has the potential to annoy everybody. Some people can happily go ahead with their entire head in a sound-proof bubble, almost nothing piercing enough to pop it – I envy these people. However, one thing that I most definitely share with them, is that they also cannot stand the sound of metal cutlery scraping around on a porcelain plate.

This sound unites all humans in hatred. It cuts through the atmosphere like an ear-seeking bullet and immediately lodges itself in all available brains, heating them up to a high enough temperature to thin the skull by a good millimetre each time. It is also the only sound on this list that has the unique ability to make even the perpetrator wince – providing they don’t usually do it, that is. We’ve all had a momentary lapse in decorum and done it accidentally. No judgement there.

4. Cracking your fingers like a sham chiropractor on trial for extreme malpractice

It's time for another admission: I do this all the time. I crack my fingers, my neck, my back, my pussy and my crack – it all gets clicked and snapped and crunched, and I’m completely oblivious to it. It’s a habit, and I need to break it, before I break my fingers, and the eardrums of my colleagues.

I used to have a friend who would click his back, and it used to vibrate all the way down to my coccyx, shaking my diaphragm with such force that I would feel immediately sick. So yeah, I understand how the back of your neck feels when I click my fingers. Sorry. 

3. You, with that fucking annoying voice that you’ve got

Every office has one – a person whose voice cuts through all other background noise like a chainsaw through a jellyfish. Whether it’s the pitch, the accent, the volume, or the way they go up at the end of every goddamn sentence.

You might only hear it whenever you head over to get a coffee, or when you’re hiding in the toilets, but if you’re unlucky enough to be in the blast radius, it can drop a large foulness onto your day, every day.

If you have never heard anyone in your office with an annoying voice; then it’s you. If you notice everyone on your table wince every time you open your mouth; it’s you. If you’re on the phone and can hear the unmistakeable sound of an eyeball exploding on the other end; it’s you. If you are literally the only person in the world whose ears aren’t spouting torrents of blood; it’s you.

2. The sudden, heart-stopping jolt that accompanies the ear-drum shattering shrill of a practice fire-alarm that still dislocates your spine even though you know it’s coming every Wednesday

You'd think that something that happens every week would become almost routine in your mind. Like when the bins go out, or when Geordie Shore is onor when you have a Sunday roast – these things occur every week and you know exactly when. You can prepare for them.

Weird then, that the practice fire alarm goes off once a week but you forget about it every single time and it forcibly rips your entire skeleton from your skin and hurls it screaming into the sun. Something this alarming (pun fucking intended) should really register in your brain and enable you to put in your headphones in preparation; but no, you’ve forgotten again, and now one half of your heart is choking you, and the other is hanging out of your arsehole.

1. The earth-ending crunch of a crisp as it’s decimated within a mouth whose lips are steadfastly refusing to stay in contact with one another throughout the entire ordeal

Just put a double-glazed Kevlar face-mask on every time you eat crisps, basically. Your mouth is deafening and enough to bring the universe to an end.

Anyway, thanks for listening, I’ve gotta head off to the doctors – there’s something wrong with my fingers.

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Gary Ogden

Shortlist writer and "the least woke person in the office", Gary Ogden, likes horror movies, Cheestrings, tapping his leg under the desk, "having a drink", PDAs, not having eczema anymore, hiding from responsibility, screaming into the mirror whenever he is alone, and assorted other things. Mainly the eczema thing though. @garyblogden

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