Published: 2 years ago

On Corn Flakes, Misophonia, and Never Not Noticing

I have a disorder.

I’m pretty sure I have a lot of ’em, actually, but I have one in particular that I’ll highlight today.

I can’t stand to be around you when you’re eating cereal. That’s right: you. And you. And you over there, sir. All of you. I don’t want to hear you chew your Froot Loops or your Lucky Charms and especially not your Special K. Special K is the absolute worst.

I don’t mind hearing you chew your ice. Tearing into a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos? Fine by me. Slurp your soup, gnaw your steak, pop some pretzels. It doesn’t affect me a bit (as long as you keep your mouth closed, because gross). But there’s something about first-thing-in-the-morning cereal that just makes me want to open the closest window and throw you out.

*crunch. crunch. crunch.*

Sweet mercy make it stop.

*crunch. crunch. crunch.*

Oh heavens this has to end.

*crunch. crunch. crunch.*

How much more is in that bowl?

*crunch. crunch. crunch.*


Smart people who make up diseases call this disorder misophonia, and the latest research tells me it’s probably my fault. I can accept that. But that doesn’t eliminate the fact that being in the same zip code as a serial cereal chewer is a terrible way to wake up in the morning.

And the funny thing is, when someone in my household first starts chewing I might not even notice it. But once I notice it, I can’t not notice it. It’s burned into my psyche. There’s no turning back. Once I pick up on the first chew to enter my cranium, I hear every other chew to come after it and there’s nothing I can do to unhear it.


There’s a corollary to this in guest service world, if you can believe it.


No, seriously: stay tuned. “Not noticing” can be a death knell in the church. We don’t notice the trash on the ground, so we gain a reputation for being messy. We don’t notice the guest standing by themselves, so we get the label of being unfriendly. We miss subtle signals in a conversation, we fail to follow up on a question, we let someone pass by without speaking…and we do it all under the banner of simply not noticing. We miss it. We drop the ball. We blow it.

That’s why our radar has to be on high alert. We’re never off. If people are around, we’re clued in. If a guest is in our orbit, we’re paying attention. We’re opening doors, engaging in conversations, sweating over the details, and looking for ways to help.

Not noticing is not an option. So how do you take notice? If you’re not naturally wired to see these types of things, how do you get wired?

The key is simple: just start watching. Pick one thing (trash on the ground, opening doors for people, speaking to first timers) and get obsessive over that. Once you’ve got that one thing under your belt, pick something else. Soon, you won’t be able to not notice. And while that might be a crazy curse to put on yourself, it’s a great gift to give to your guests.

That’s something to chew on.


(photo credit)

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