The curious incident, of course, is that the dog did nothing in the nighttime, much like how the Shouting Girl at work did not shout. I've never bothered to mention what it is I do for work. I've referenced a waitressing job that I loathed and no longer do, but I never did bother to add in what I now do instead. Part of this is because of incredibly stringent privacy laws that make it almost impossible to really explain what my job entails. The other part is that it's dull as hell. I won't mention company names or anything specific or incriminating; suffice to say I work at a call center that receives and then provides captions on phone calls for the deaf and hearing impaired. It's a pretty sweet gig, if mentally exhausting and frustrating in the wrong sort of circumstances. We are essentially revoicing one-sided conversations we hear into a VR program (voice-recognition) which then converts the audio to text and sends it off to a special telephone with a screen that displays the words. Our computers are touchscreen, so if errors appear we can and are expected to correct them as quickly as we can. Herein lies the problem of Shouting Girl.
It gets exasperating, yeah? I'm the first to admit when my VR is fucking up left and right, words that weren't a problem for me an hour earlier deciding "no, I'd rather come out as something borderline pornographic and mortifying, kthnxbai :D!" I can get a little hot under the collar. I sigh real heavy. I mute my mic and start muttering curses, I flail and silently berate the caller for being just the worst person and making my life super hard, and I am also prone to keyboard-mashing when correcting my VR's very poor sense of humor. I get it. Calls can run for upwards of an hour, they can be slow and non-stop, fast and non-stop, shitty connections, thick accents, any and all of these things contribute to being a very difficult call and a very sad, bruised brain. Everyone groans. Everyone mutters curses. Everyone sighs in relief when such a call is over. I hear it just about anywhere I sit on the call floor.
But then there is the Shouting Girl. I finally was able to find the Shouting Girl, to put a face to the very distinct voice I occasionally encountered. At first she had been a bit of a spectre. I could hear her, no problem. Sometimes two rows behind me, sometimes on the other side of the damn call floor, sometimes (God save me) in the cubicle next to mine. But given the isolated nature of the job and how you're practically chained to your desk unless you have a justified reason to leave it, like a supervisor calls you up or you're on break/lunch or your insides are literally about to rupture from backlogged piss, venturing around in search of the Shouting Girl wasn't quite feasible. And then there would be whole days at a time when I wouldn't hear her at all, where she clearly couldn't be in the building because there is no possible way I and everyone within a thirty foot radius wouldn't be aware of it if she were. I had to move one day, go up to my supervisor and beg her to let me reserve a different cubicle away from the insanity because on that horrible day the Shouting Girl developed a new evil superpower.
See, the groaning and sighing and muttering that all the other employees engage in have one thing in common: being unobtrusive. When the Shouting Girl gets annoyed when her VR has a stroke and goes haywire, she starts off like everyone else, with one difference: she gets louder. As her VR gets shitty, she starts talking louder and slower, which has the unsurprising effect of making her VR even shittier, which means she just gets louder and more frustrated until she is (wait for it) shouting. Shouting, banging the keyboard, making high-pitched screechy noises of vexation, loudly cursing at the computer and basically making herself an auditory spectacle and a serious fucking distraction for anyone unfortunate enough to be within hearing range, which is basically everyone and anywhere.
The day I begged to be moved away from her she was in the row right behind me. And the same ruckus started up like clockwork and I started despairing of my life and the fact that my lunch was still three hours away, leaving me with no means of escaping her by getting a new cubicle organically. Because the Shouting Girl was now no longer the Shouting Girl. She had added crying to the rotation. She was the Crying Shouting Girl. So in addition to her disproportionate rage, I also had to listen to this girl have a meltdown right at her desk directly behind me, all-out sobbing as her VR disappoints and getting herself stuck in yet another infinity loop of fucked up revoicing and feelings of inadequacy. I almost started crying from the insanity of it all. I paused my program when a call finally ended and went and threw myself on my supervisor's mercy. When I said the words "Shouting Girl" she knew exactly who I meant. She said the girl had "problems" not that I asked her to elaborate, but somewhere underneath my very intense irritation and professional embarrassment I was a little worried about whether this job was actually breaking her. I moved, carried on with my job, and the day eventually ended.
I didn't hear from the Shouting Girl for about three weeks, until she sat next to me today. This realization came with familiar feelings of foreboding and dread, thinking I might yet again be forced to uproot myself early and hunt out a new cubicle in order to keep my own mental state somewhere in the realm of functioning.
Enter the curious incident.
Shouting Girl did not shout. She grunted, groaned, sighed and muttered. But she never shouted. Never once raised her voice, banged on the keyboard, shrilled or started weeping. She got annoyed, sure, her VR wasn't perfect. No one's ever is. But she kept her cool. She dealt with her frustration maturely, healthily, without blowing up or falling apart.
It was really goddamn weird. It's come to the point that I actually like having the Shouting Girl shouting. It gives me something to vent my own frustrations at, something concrete I can point to or glare at, to channel my own pointless anger at since I can't ever vent it at some of the frankly awful people I get on the phone. It's cathartic, honestly. I miss it. And if the Shouting Girl has finally started meditating or medicating or whatever method she used to find her inner zen, I'll actually be pretty bummed. Because if the Shouting Girl becomes the Not-Shouting Girl, then that'll just leave me as the Slow-Burning-Homicidal Girl. Which is not a sobriquet I would like to follow me on into the future, especially if there's an incriminating news report to go along with it because that shit takes years and more money than I could feasibly possess or part with to make go away.
But perhaps the Shouting Girl will shout tomorrow and put my world spinning back on it's axis. Then I can stop working on my alibi, since my lack of social life sort of precludes me from having one, which would just be awkward if the police got involved. I'd hate to publish my first book under an assumed identity from a hovel somewhere in Siberia. I'm too egotistical not to take all the credit.
Bark on, doggy. Bark on.