Sensitivity Training

The other day I was having a conversation with a friend who had posted something on the Twitterverse about HSP, which stands for Hyper-Sensitive Person. We were going through the list of criteria, and I have to admit that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a couple of the symptoms. For example, I hate loud noises. More specifically, I hate vacuum cleaners. Hate is maybe too mild a word. Vacuum cleaners make me want to gouge my eyes out, to the point that, a few years ago, I bought a Roomba. For those of you who don’t know what a Roomba is, it’s a very expensive robot vacuum. It’s not a badass robot with laser beam eyes and super-strength, but it WILL vacuum your carpet when you’re not at home which, at the time, SEEMED pretty badass. It was perfect for me, because that meant the rugs got cleaned but I didn’t have to suffer the torment of listening to it. Things were great for a while—I would put it in the middle of a room, turn it on, then run out the door, leaving it to its robotic devices. Then, inevitably, Ken decided that he was now in charge of the robot, like an evil robot slave master. And he insisted on running it when we were actually home. What’s the f*cking point of THAT? You might as well just use a regular, non-sentient vacuum. I would be in my bathroom, and suddenly the Roomba would grind in, like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre was about to happen. This is not an exaggeration—one time, it actually attacked my feet and I ran away from it. But then it kept coming after me, and it was like one of those horror films where, no matter how fast you run, the killer just keeps on relentlessly coming and eventually catches you. I finally resorted to kicking it away when it would cruise through the room I was in, until finally, it died. I have no regrets. It was evil and alive—it was either kill it my damn self or call in a priest. Ken was sad—he loved his robot vacuum, but that’s the way things go when you want to act like a petty despot—robots get hurt.

Aside from my bizarre hatred of vacuums, here’s another reason why I might have become more sensitive as I’ve gotten older. Apparently, people who are hyper-sensitive always remember everyone’s birthday, because they get very upset with themselves if they forget. Now, for a long time, I was NOT the kind of person who wrote down important milestones in a little diary. I have, on numerous occasions, forgotten the birthdays of my parents and siblings, forgotten my wedding anniversary, and regularly get Kate’s birth year and the year I got married mixed up. But over the last couple of years, particularly after discovering how to use my Outlook calendar, I’ve gotten much better at this, at least for work. Last year, I decided to make sure I remembered all the birthdays of the people on my team. But first, I had to find out when they actually were so that I could record them in my calendar:

Me: Hey, can you do me a favour? Can you go around the office and get the birth dates of everyone on our team?
Colleague 1: What do you want them for?
Me: So I can put them in my calendar.
Colleague 1: Why don’t you just ask them?
Me: I don’t want people to think I don’t already know when they are.
Colleague 1: I think people already know that. You always seem really surprised when there’s cake.

But now, I have them all recorded, and even though we can’t have cake because we’re all working remotely, I have a JibJab account, and I can whip up a card at a moment’s notice, as I almost had to do the other day:

Colleague 2: So, yes, I think that would be a good time to meet about–
Me (looking at Outlook calendar): Oh my god!
Colleague 2: What’s wrong?
Me: It’s Donna’s birthday today! How could I not have seen that? Why did nobody say anything? What time is it?
Colleague 2: Five to 1.
Me: I’m meeting with her and the team at 1! That gives me five minutes. I need to go—I have to make a Jibjab for her!

But then, as I was frantically looking for a JibJab card template that I hadn’t already used (I think ‘Tequila’ has run its course), I happened to look at my calendar and realized that it was set on October, so I texted my colleague, who had already texted Donna to wish her Happy Birthday, to which she had replied in confusion, “It’s not my birthday” to which my colleague then replied, “Sorry, wrong person” and I think we both recovered nicely from the situation.

Also, I’m trying to improve at writing messages in cards. Just like my poor small talk skills, I’m equally bad at card small talk. Some people are capable of writing epic messages, like “He was gone before his time—remember the best parts of him as a tribute to his memory”, or “A happy marriage is a gift from the heavens—you are truly blessed.” Me, I learned a long time ago that I am NOT epic, and I usually just resort to “So sorry for your loss”, or “Congratulations”. Once, I had to write a Thank You card but instead of “We make a good team”, I wrote “We make a good time”. Then I got worried that the person might think that it was some bizarre pick-up line, and I got totally paranoid and ended up throwing the card away, because there was no way to correct THAT, except to start over again. Which is why I like JibJab cards, because you can proofread them before you send them. Still you have to be careful:

Kate: What are you doing?
Me: Making a card for my team. Look, it’s a song called Cake By The Ocean. Nice huh?
Kate: Uh…you might want to reconsider that.
Me: Too sensitive, given the whole covid thing? Because we can’t have the birthday cake at the beach right now?
Kate: NO, because “cake by the ocean” means having SEX at the beach.
Me: ‘Tequila’, it is!

I’m nothing if not sensitive.

54 thoughts on “Sensitivity Training

  1. Your Roomba story reminds me of what’s been going on at work lately. Our maintenance crew at night uses a ride-on floor scrubber to clean…. imagine someone riding a zamboni around a store all night. Well, our company has come up with automated floor scrubbers that are basically the self-driving car versions of these zambonis… and the store I work at recently got ours. Let me tell you…. that thing will find where you’re working early and often, and will play a menacing game of chicken with you to get the heck out of its way so it can do its automated job! I got chased out of an aisle by it three times one night. The machines…. they will eventually do us in.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Im not adverse to vacuum noise, I can tolerate it well. I adverse to Roombas, they are IA just waiting for the giant Roomba master to give the word and we’ll all be dead. And you know who those Roomba masters are?? CATS! They are the only ones that can control them, they ride them wearing shark suits looking all cute and one day we’ll be their slaves!
    Okay, yes I’ve listen to Charlie’s rankings about felines taking over the world while having white wine spritzers once too often. But one can’t be too careful.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It’s better to be overly sensitive than insensitive, I think. Even if you’re a month early wishing someone a happy birthday you’re at least thinking of them. And even if you put their birthdays in your Outlook calendar you thought of them once so you can get a reminder to think about them later.
    Anyway I’m disappointed in Ken. Running the Roomba while you’re there is fine, but I expected him to do something creative like sticking his phone on it playing “Tequila” on repeat.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I am dying laughing. I have tears. OMG this was so funny. The evil robot of doom chasing you is epic. I could hardly read I was laughing and crying. You have a wonderful comedic voice that you put into your writings.
    I loved the line: You always look surprised when we have cake.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, our cat HATED it, but the dog used to follow it around, wondering what it was up to. I’m sure if it was Atlas now, he’d be barking at it incessantly–he does that to a stationary broom, so imagine how he’d react to a Roomba!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Birthdays are big for me too. It’s your ONE day of the whole year! So I like to acknowledge them. And, I have this weird thing about remembering dates. I even still remember the birthdays of my grade school classmates whom I haven’t seen or spoken to in 40 years. LOL

    Did you read the story of the guy whose Roomba was programmed to start at 1am after their new puppy had an accident in the living room? OMG. I was crying laughing.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. If Facebook didn’t tell me it was someone’s birthday I’d have no way to know. If you’re not on Facebook you don’t have a birthday.

    Honestly (and I shouldn’t admit this) I never even knew what day my mother’s birthday was. December-something, I’m pretty sure. 🤷

    Irregardless, I love a good vacuum and buy a new one every couple of years so I can brag about it on Facebook. I also love the word “irregardless” even though it drives English-lovers batty. Ain’t that something?

    P.S. my current vacuum is a Shark DuoClean APEX upright with powered lift-away tech, a HEPA filter, and an anti-allergy seal, in green. Jaws theme, indeed!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Vacuum cleaners come straight from hell… You’d think that some people would have tried to make a silent one, instead of building space shuttles to send us to Mars… Nope! (Ok, I’m sure that the fanciest Dyson models don’t make much noise, but unless I win the Lotto Max jackpot, I’m not considering them as an option).

    I don’t think I would qualify as hyper sensitive person, but I am pretty sure I suffer from misophonia. Basically that’s when people (me) get really irritated by common noises (loud or not). Personally, I can’t stand people who make sound when they eat (especially when it comes to chips or popcorn), people who snort repeatedly, my work office clock’s ticking (I don’t have to worry about that one for now, yay!) or the sound of a tv that is on, but muted.

    But yeah… Vacuum cleaners… They’re the devil’s work! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I always wondered if those things worked well. I hate vacuuming because they never pick up everything and taking it apart to clean is a pita. But I do have a Dyson hand held one that is powerful, easy to clean and I can use it to clean up my small messes—yes I am messy. I have a long attachment on the front so I don’t have to worry about falling out of the chair to get something cleaned up on the floor. I just plug it in to charge, no irritating cords to get in the way.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. We used to have a huge finished basement in our old house, so we would let the Roomba vacuum the carpet down there. It would take the entire day because it has to map out the room first, which is basically a square. Once we moved, we no longer used the Roomba–we could vacuum everything much faster ourselves.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Hyper-Sensitive Person. Hmm, I’d ask: environmentally sensitive, or emotionally sensitive? It sounds like the first, but the second would appear more telling — and critical.

    Noise? Depends on if it’s consistent or variable. Those fucking leaf-blower dudes who can’t grip and hold the damn trigger with a steady pressure need to have their yard-work licenses revoked. Vvvv, Vvvv, Vv, Vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv, Vvvv, V, Vvvvvvvvvvvv — Grab a damn broom, would ya?

    Birthdays? Oh, I love celebrating the resulting fact of two people having had sex decades in the past. “I’m so glad your parents got drunk and fucked in the stairwell, way-back-when. Otherwise, we’d not be enjoying this delicious chocolate cake.” Needless to say, I hate birthdays. WooWee, you made around the sun, One-More-Time. Let’s party!.

    (Too sensitive? Probably.)

    Liked by 3 people

    • 🤣🤣🤣It’s just environmental and can get pretty bad sometimes. You should see me when there’s a truck backing up anywhere in my vacinity! Emotionally not so much—it takes a hell of a lot to offend me.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. My Roomba always goes for my feet. When I enter a room, it’ll be over in a corner, grinding away, spinning around in a circle, starting to leave, but then saying (with a small, electronic start that only I can hear), “Oh, did I miss that spot,” and then returning to that place and grinding more (even though the spot is obviously clean). Run it for an hour, and at least one spot will be cleaned for fifteen minutes. But then, ours is an old model — we’ve had it for ten years. It’s our third one (our dying cat peed on the first two, killing them — I think she was making a declaration, like, “Piss on you, vile machine!”). I didn’t know that she’d killed the first one. I demanded a replacement from Roomba and got it. But the second one had an odor and was wet… Clever detective that I am, I thought, mmm…this smells like cat piss. Then I staked out the machine (one of the worst stake outs that I’ve ever been on) until I caught the cat in the act.

    After the cat killed the machine, I contacted Roomba again. They sent me a replacement refurbed unit. Since it’s a refurb, I don’t know how old it is. I think it’s gone senile. Or maybe it’s stressed because it heard about my cat killing previous machines by pissing on them. That cat is gone, but there are three other cats here…

    BTW, Roomba didn’t want the pissed on machine shipped to them, so I have two. One doesn’t work, but it is useful for spare parts and brushes.

    Anyway, when the Roomba notices me, it stops its grinding and immediately spins for me, racing over at top speed, little motor straining and whining, smoke coming out from its wheels. Then it starts trying to clean me. I move away, of course, but it keeps coming for me.

    I swear it treats me like dirt.

    It also likes going under the bed. I think it goes under the bed and stops, goofing off under there while playing a recording of it cleaning so we think it’s doing something.

    Machines. They can’t be trusted.

    Nor can cats.


    Liked by 2 people

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