Today I had a meeting that especially hit me hard, which was very unusual since it started at 2 p.m. When I walked in the room, only two people were sitting at the conference table, and I deliberately sat next to the person who didn't have a cup of coffee near them. (Here I thought I was being smart. Little did I know what was about to transpire...)
As other people entered the room, one person sat across the table from me with a container of carrots, broccoli, and celery. I thought I was out of the woods when he finished them all pretty early in the meeting. Boy was I wrong... When that container was empty, he got up and left the room, only to come back with not only a turkey sandwich, but another large container, this time filled with fruit. (Cut up apples, grapes, etc.) Now even though this food wasn't as crunchy as his previous munchies, just the constant motion of him picking up more pieces from the containers to his mouth was kind of distracting too, but that wasn't the worst of it for me...
Sitting to his left was another person who kept opening and closing his pen top - which makes a snapping sound. I tried to politely ask him to stop (which is pretty hard to do in the middle of a meeting especially when the person is across the table from me) but no sooner does he stop that noise, he then proceeded to flick the metal piece on the pen cap that clips the pen into a pocket with his nail. At the same time, the first guy, who had finally stopped eating, started flipping his pen around his thumb. The second guy then stopped playing with his pen (phew!) but then drummed his fingers on the table. All I wanted to do was ask them to stop but there was no way I could do it discretely enough to not interrupt the meeting.
All I wanted to to was get up and walk out of the conference room, but I didn't want to just storm out in a huff either. I could feel my annoyance boil up inside of me and wondered if it was visible in my facial expression. (I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve.) I probably should've put my earplugs in, and looking back... I'm not sure why I didn't.
When the meeting was over, I asked the leader to hang back for a bit afterwards. She was one of the first people in the office who I told about my misophonia (mainly because she was the one to go to when people have questions about our health insurance benefits). She was very sympathetic when I told her how much I was struggling in the meeting, especially when I told her someone was crunching a juicy apple at our previous meeting too. She said there was no reason why I should've suffered there in silence with the internal pain of "needles in arm" like triggers. She then made an interesting suggestion... She said that I should come up with a "trigger phrase" when the discomfort becomes too unbearable at meetings. Perhaps even look down at my cell phone and excuse myself saying "I have an urgent matter to address..." and then walk out. I could then catch up with her later after the meeting to find out what I missed. Considering how much in high demand I am at work, it wouldn't be that far-fetched a situation, although when she made the suggestion, my first thoughts were of some bizarre phrase or "safe" word. I could just imagine getting up in the middle of a meeting to say, "Oh, Kumquat!" before walking out of the room for relief. (Her "trigger phrase" was definitely more professional and discrete. LOL!) :-D
It's this type of concern and understanding by my coworkers that makes me feel so lucky to be working at a firm like where I am now. I even made that comment to my coworker and she commented that it's just the way people out here in the Midwest are...
As someone who lived her entire life (up until the past year) on the east coast... I couldn't agree more!