Can you hear me now?

My new neighbor in the cubicle farm is a loud talker. Or, rather, a LOUD TALKER. If he were a keyboard, he would be stuck in all caps with the Caps Lock key forcibly removed. His mutters are speeches, his normal speech a shout, and I shudder to think what he does when he wants his voice to carry. I know more about his project than I do mine, mainly because his booming nasal voice has driven all independent thought from my head. Except the sweet, sweet whisper of the darkness. That's always there.

Have you ever spent a considerable amount of time next to someone like this? It's like being trapped on a transcontinental flight next to an obsessive-compulsive sharer. In short order, every detail of this person's life is imposed upon you, and you feel your own self slipping away under the deluge, your grip on reality failing as you are pulled under by the torrent of words.

And there are plenty of words. My new friend has an opinion on everything, and is certain to his very marrow that everyone else not only wants his opinion, they need it. He is convinced that everyone else with whom he works (present company always excepted) is a total idiot, and needs everything explained to them in the most minute detail. When they ignore his enlightenment -- which after a while they all must, if only out of self-preservation -- he takes this as proof that he is the only person who knows what's right.

Believe it or not, I have never actually spoken to my neighbor directly. I gather all of this excruciating detail from his conversations with his neighbor, who is working on the same project. They loudly debate every twist and turn in the fascinating tale of their project whenever they are able to take a break from telling everyone else what they should be doing. For fun, they sometimes call over a third person, so that all three of them can gather around one cubicle "doorway" and discuss what they should do next to make everyone see the light. At these times, they lower their voices to a conspiratorial holler. It's a little like invisibly attending a very boring cocktail party.

Has anyone seen my headphones? Or some earplugs? Please?!?
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