Headphones at work
Illustration: Matt Collins

Q: A lot of people listen to music through headphones at work. If you need a plugged-in cube-dweller's attention, you have to tap him and wait through the startle reflex and removal of earbuds. Is it okay to tell him how inappropriate this choice is?

A: "Sometimes tuning out is the only way to get work done. Cubicles mean that your colleague probably has to listen to Heather angst over whether to commit to a mermaid dress for the Most Important Wedding in History. His choice is earbuds or murder-suicide. As long as he's productive and not singing aloud to the Starlight Express soundtrack, you kinda have to deal with it."
Faith Salie, host of the public radio show Fair Game from PRI with Faith Salie

"Some people need music to distract them from routine or monotonous activities, but the truth is, many jobs are routine and monotonous, and we can't all drift off and expect to get compensated for doing so."
Pastor Rudy Rasmus, pastor of St. John's United Methodist Church in Houston