I car pooled with two of our principals and someone from our interior design department. Three of us had Starbucks for the hour long ride to our destination (the driver didn't want anything). Lucky for me, the other coffee drinkers in the car weren't slurpers. Perhaps the travel lids help with minimizing that trigger.
When we arrived at the community center where the event was being held, I saw the room was set-up with about ten large round tables. At the front was a screen where one of the architects set up a projector, camera on a tripod, and his computer to record everything. Of course, I wanted to make a bee-line for the front table so that I wouldn't be distracted by potential visual triggers, but as I moved to the front, I noticed everyone else was filling up the back tables. I struggled trying to figure out where to sit. I wanted to be comfortable and able to focus on the presentation, but no one was coming anywhere near the table where I wanted to sit. I stood at the front table looking around, not sure what I was going to do, when one of my coworkers from another office said that she'd sit up front with me. She too wanted to be able to focus on the presentations. I was so grateful and relieved that I didn't need to sit at one of the other tables. Needless to say that I sort of felt like I was the unpopular kid again back in high school sitting at the front of the classroom while all the other cool kids sat in the back.
I was lucky that they used microphones throughout the day, because it allowed me to wear my earplugs without having to worry about missing anything. At one point at the beginning of the retreat, I noticed that
For the most part, the day went pretty smoothly while I sat in that front table. Every so often though my focus would be broken by someone opening a can of soda but other than that, I was okay... Until the last two hours of the event when they had us break up into groups for brainstorming sessions. That's when I was in trouble... I was assigned to a table at the very back corner of the room. (Ugh!) To make matters worse, the person who was manning the computer while we were up front, sat next to me and not only was bouncing his leg, but started flipping his pen around the top of his thumb. Back and forth. Back and fourth... I finally asked him if he could please stop, and was happy that he did without asking me why. (He was from one of our other office locations and most likely does not know of my misophonia.) The person to my other side started rubbing her arm, which wound up being just as distracting as the pen twirling and I also noticed someone at an adjacent table chewing gum with his mouth open. I was surrounded by so many repetetive actions, and yet I couldn't escape because I was required to be there.
When we were ready to present our information to the rest of the group, the person at the other side of the table from me, who coincidentally was in the direct line of sight with the person presenting, started playing with her long hair. She was positioned right in front of where I needed to face to watch the presentation. I wound up resting my elbows on the table and clasping my hands in such a way that my hands and arms blocked the view of the hair twirling woman in front of me, but I was able to see the person standing behind her above my clasped hands. I'm sure I looked silly, but it was the only way I could create front blinders to block the trigger.
Finally, the event was done and we started to gather our things for the hour-long ride back home. At one point while I was hanging out with my carpoolmates in the lobby area, one of my other coworkers, in my department, walked behind me whistling. Of course, I instinctively put my fingers to my ears, which he noticed. He is aware of my misophonia, from when I sat in his cubicle pod before moving to my current location. We've often joked about my reactions to the triggers he creates (like when I gently smoosh down his hand when he drums his fingers during a meeting.) My reaction in the lobby must have startled him though because after he apologized, he said to me, "Wait a second... Don't you have a bird?" I replied, "Yeah, but he doesn't whistle..." He laughed, but I'm sure he didn't understand how the sounds my bird makes are different than a human whistling. I added, "My bird does bother me now and then, and he's the only thing that has ever driven me to a point of rage. When that happens, I always have to leave my apartment." He replied that I should get a cat... That would solve my bird problem. Whatever. As much as he seems to be sympathetic to my misophonia, I'm sure he's just being polite and probably does think that my actions and sensitivity is strange.
Anyway, on the drive back I sat in the back seat with another coworker who spent a good part of the beginning of the trip playing with one of those small M&M "Fun Packs." The crinkling of the wrapper really got annoying but rather than ask her to stop, I just put my earplugs back in and waited until she finally ate the candies and rolled the empty wrapper into a tube form. At least then, it stopped making a rattling noise, but I'll be very honest... As she ate the candies, I debated to myself whether or not I'd ask her to hand me the empty wrapper when she was done with it. I figured if I had it in my hand, then she wouldn't be making noise while playing with it. Then again, I didn't know how she'd react if I asked her for the empty wrapper. It's not like I was sitting next to a garbage can, where it would make sense for me to offer to take the wrapper from her. I'm just glad it never came to my having to decide what to do.