March 20th, 2007

superduke

Sensory Overload

I have sensitive ears. This does not mean I have good hearing, in fact I think my hearing is not very good. I can generally only understand people's words when they are facing me, for example. Despite this, my ears are sensitive. I don't like loud noises or voices, and noises too close to my ears hurt them.

We have magnetic swipe cards at my office to unlock the doors. You wave them at a sensor, it beeps, and the door unlocks. I used to carry my card in my pocket, but I kept forgetting it in my pants. I recently switched to wearing it on a lanyard around my neck -- less attractive, but also easier to notice at the end of the day.

Unfortunately with it around my neck, it means my head is closer to be beeping sensor. That thing is loud when my head is right there! It hurts my ears. Strange that it never bothered me at arm's length, but neck length is just too close.

I've been experimenting with ways to resolve this. For awhile I would swipe the card and then jump back, hoping to being clear before the beep. It didn't work. Then I tried taking it off my neck as I approached, but that was annoying. The lanyard tended to get tangled up in my ears or hair.

I could plug my ears, but it's difficult to do that while swiping a card with one hand. Also it would probably look silly.

Today I hit on the perfect solution though. I pull the card toward the sensor with my right hand (or just lean forward and let it sense the card hanging from my neck), and turn my head to the right. My left ear is right there, but I discretely cover that ear with my left hand. My right ear is protected by being turned away.

Perfect! The nasty beeping is diminished enough that it doesn't bother my ears at all. It's convenient, it'll keep me from forgetting my card, and I don't look all that silly. Everybody wins -- or at least I do.