A woman who works in an office that has piped-in music writes: "I wish you would write something on behalf of those of us who are subjected to background music in our places of employment.

"The music in our place is turned up so loud it is hard to concentrate or answer the phone. When we ask them to at least turn down the volume a little, we get nasty looks.

"The theory is that the music is a free benefit for us, and that it will soothe us and make better workers of us. All it does is give us one splitting headache after another.

"Quite often when I answer the phone, the caller suggests that I turn off my radio so that we can hear each other. I have to explain that I have no radio playing, it is the soothing background music that is making the noise.

"Most of the people in our office consider the music a nuisance. Instead of making us better workers it just creates tension and headaches. After listening to the music for eight hours, I am ready to climb walls.

"Tell me how you feel about background music, and tell me what we can do about it."

The first question is easy, but my answer will have little pertinence. I do not like background music. Urban life has already put too much noise into my environment and I see no need for the deliberate addition of more.

I love music, but when I listen to it I want it loud enough to hear and I want to give it my full attention. I can't even read and listen to music. I must concentrate on one or the other. So for me, background music is just useless noise.

But as I said, my opinion is not really pertinent here. What is important is: How do your colleagues at the office feel about background music?

If you are correct in you statement that most of your fellow workers consider the background music a nuisance, then an answer to your second question suggests itself: Draw up a polite petition to management stating that the music interferes with office efficiency, then get a solid majority of employees to sign it. Management is not likely to fire the entire crew, or to ignore a majority viewpoint.

On the other hand, if it turns out that most of the employees in the the office are not opposed to the music, that will also suggest a practical answer to your question of what to do: Recognize that you are in the minority, and reconcile yourself to the need to conform or look for another job.