Normally I try to get to the meeting early so I can get an ideal seat right in front next to the projection screen so that I don't have to deal with visual triggers in my peripheral vision. Before the meeting, I heard our receptionist clanking her silverware on a glass plate, so I knew I had to be prepared. (Instead of sandwiches, the office got roasted sliced pork with steamed vegetables. Pretty yummy but I can't stand the noise of everyone's silverware clanking on their plates.) Since the meeting is also covered by WebEx for our other locations to participate, speakers use a microphone when presenting. It's great for me because I know I can wear my earplugs to block out the background noises but still hear the microphoned speakers.
Today I wound up getting to the meeting on time (which for me is late), and I was really worried that someone would've taken my spot. Luckily, whether because people know I always sit in the front corner or because people don't like sitting that close to the screen, I was able to get my favorite seat. I still had to hold up my notebook at times to block the view of some of the other people in the front who would bounce their feet during the meeting; but other than that, it was a typical staff meeting.
One of my coworkers presented an interesting tibit of information that really hit home for me. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm a lighting designer at an architecture/engineering firm. During these staff meetings, we share "lessons learned" issues that can help us on other projects. Today, one of my coworkers shared a situation where they designed a K-12 school that had classrooms for special-need students (like when a student has autism). Evidently, an issue came up where the hand driers in the adjacent restrooms were upsetting some of the special-ed students. They wound up having to remove them.
I spoke to my coworker after the meeting to say that her example piqued my interest. I explained that it might not have been just the sound of the hand drying machines, but perhaps also the vibrations caused by the machines, that the students could sense. I explained how sometime I can feel vibrations caused by people moving near me (since our office has hard floors with very little padding), and I can always feel when someone rests their feet or another object on the chair on which I'm sitting. She replied that what I said made sense, since the school building's construction had hollow cavity walls that would allow sound and vibrations to easily travel between the adjacent spaces.
It's really interesting how sometimes people take our environments for granted - not just the ones that we're physically in, but also those that are adjacent to our own. It's people who have heightened senses that really pick up on the environmental factors that other people just don't perceive.