Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Noises and Things That Go Bump Anytime

I'm on an anti-noise campaign. I'm generally easy going, but I've been pushed to the limit. Enough is enough. Noise is the constant companion of everything we do and everywhere we go these days. Apparently, the Powers that Be have decided that Silence is the Enemy!

The Rant Begins

It's not just noise, but the level of the noise that's becoming intolerable. On the level of intolerable, the Loo gets the first prize. Here's the scene: You're shopping and Nature Calls. You locate the restroom and find the stall. After attending to business, the toilet (one of those water-saving monsters) decides you're finished and flushes at a decibel count greater than a rock concert.

You wash your hands and the dryer buzzes on, sounding like an enraged lion at the circus. Unlike said lion who limits the roar to a show of bravado, the stupid blow dryer keeps roaring and roaring and roaring until you've exited the store, gotten into your car, and driven out of the parking lot.

What about Stores Themselves!

Canned, blasting ersatz music blares from speakers above your head, guaranteeing you won't have to endure a moment of silence whether you're contemplating new underwear, a can of peas, or an oil filter. You can't escape it.

Once, while shopping for a gift for my daughter, I entered a store and the noise was so intense inside that I asked the clerk if she could please turn it down so I could think. (I was the only customer at the time). The clerk gave me a blank stare and informed me it was company policy to enhance the buying experience. I stared back, told her it had enhanced me out the door without making a purchase, and left.

Want to have some lunch? Be prepared for more of the same. Try to have a conversation while some woman screams or whines at you from speakers placed strategically to ruin your dining pleasure.

At Home

The clothes dryer is the worst offender here. I've considered taking a .22 to the blasted thing when it alerts me to the end of the drying cycle by bleating like a constipated bulldozer. I've timed the caterwauling at 11 seconds. It didn't take me that long to give birth. I'm getting one of the new models that I've heard has an Off option.

There's more, but I'm willing to let you have your say here. What noises drive you nuts?


  1. I know this is a rant, but it made me laugh. I don't like noise either, Karen, especially when I'm out to lunch with friends and we can't hear each other because of the music blaring, in addition to the other patrons yakking loudly because they can't hear themselves either. In the movies, before the film starts, the coming attractions blast so loud I need earplugs. I'll stop now and let someone else rant.

  2. Earplugs have become my companion whenever I go out. I'm not ashamed to put them in, either.

  3. Nice post. It was funny even though noise is a serious problem. I don't understand the need for it. Sure, I appreciate light-weigh music in a restaurant because it allows people to talk at each table without hearing all the conversations at the other tables. What I question, is music so loud we can't have a conversation at all.


  4. At a recent conference, my roommate and I bemoaned the constant chatter we'd endured, beginning at the airport, and continuing virutally non-stop. It completely wears me out. The one peaceful (almost eerily so) few seconds I had taking a walk by myself in an area with only trees for company allowed me to catch my breath and reconnect with my head.

  5. Sun Singer, I agree. There's a reason it used to be called Background Music.

    Peg, It's just one more reason I live in the country.

  6. Loud motorcycles drive me crazy. Ones that need the Midaz touch in a bad way.

  7. My personal rant is against poorly-designed acoustic spaces... such as chain sports bars and high-end burger restaurants. They start with a generic building shell, but once the lighting is installed, they forget to install the sound-absorbing drop ceiling, opting instead to paint the existing corrugated metal roof flat black. The result is not only a highly-reverberant space - but one with uncontrolled reverberation. So not only are your table companion's voices muddled, but you also get to hear the people at the next table, and the next, at a sufficiently high volume level it becomes difficult to decode human speech.

    Just in case there are any architects reading this: I believe there is a special place in Hell for anyone who designs a house of worship and ignores the acoustical design.

    I've got ADD - when I hear seven conversations, I can't ignore them all - I usually have to ask the waiter or waitress to repeat the specials twice, unless they are standing next to me and facing me. And for whatever reason, when I passed 40 years, my ears became sensitive to loud noises. A meal in a place like that is physically painful, and any attempts at conversation render me hoarse. I have seriously considered filing complaints against the worst offenders for ADA violations...

    Then there is the issue of TV commercials, music on the radio, etc... National Public Radio ran a story a while back, explaining why some things have become just plain loud:

  8. Excellent comments, Jonathan. It's probably all about a false economy - saving money where the investment can't be seen. Restaurants have become battlegrounds with customers the first casualties on the front.
    As for the increased sensitivity to noise, I've noticed it too and I'm not kidding about wearing earplugs. Sometimes they're absolutely necessary.

  9. When I sit down to write, the neighborhood dogs start barking. I vary my schedule from week to week, so how do they know what time to start?

    The enforced quiet writing time at our retreat last weekend was awesome. At times, the only sound I heard was the nearby river rushing over the rocks.

  10. Terrific post, KK. I couldn't agree more. I live in the country and write at home in just about silence - except for barking dogs and tweeting birds, but I like that. I used to write at Starbucks but when they turned the music up louder and the beat faster, I couldn't take it. I still do sometimes...but not unless I put a bluetooth in each ear. I should take your advice about the earplugs!

    And how about my favorite: you pull up at a red light, all your windows are closed, and a car pulls up next to you with a boom base playing so loud the dead are complaining underground and windows are rattling in store fronts two blocks away. And the guy thinks he's cool.


  11. Have you ever heard anyone roar up to a traffic light with Beethoven or Handel blaring out of the speakers????

  12. I agree about the high end burger type places (or similar food). Won't eat in Applebees anymore, can't hear the waitress, can't hear the people I'm with, can't hear myself think. This is supposed to be a relaxing experience? Ballgames of all kinds on multiple tv's, and music over the top of that? I tend to go to local places that keep the background music in the background.

  13. I agree with you about loud music in stores. That's why I don't like shopping! I prefer online shopping. I can at least listen to music of my choice when I'm shopping for underwear on the internet.

    My Darcy Mutates

  14. I'm tired of hearing other peoples' conversations in stores, restaurants, and even performances, as they talk loudly on their cell phones. Geesh! Why should we be the ones who have to wear earplugs? Thanks for the chance to rant, Karen.

  15. Ha! I love this post. You've managed to mention every noise that pushes my buttons. As a writer, though, I don't much mind overhearing some conversations, because they can provide fodder for stories. I still remember being at work and overhearing two women talking about shaving their legs. One said, "If I had legs like yours, I'd get a guy to shave 'em for me!"

    I am still trying to picture a constipated bulldozer.