Friday, February 18, 2011

Rant: Don't You Ever Just Like It Quiet?

Years ago, B-man and I were on our way to a wine tasting or some such event.  He had picked me up from work after a crazy day and I desperately needed some decompression time.

B-man was talking my ear off.

I tried - diplomatically - to tell him that I couldn't interact right then and needed to be silent for awhile.

'Okay,' he said, and promptly turned on the radio.

Me:  'Don't you ever just like it quiet?'

This line has become a classic in our marriage.

Last weekend, B-man and I were out doing our usual Saturday thing; shopping for stuff we don't need and 'cracker-assing' together.

Cracker-Ass:  One who strives to make humorous and irreverent comments and then laughs at inappropriate one-liners provided by one's cracker-assing partner.

This routine must be practiced regularly to stay proficient. 

In TJ Maxx, after going our separate ways (me to the perfume and B-man to housewares), I am accosted by a woman sharing the details of her respiratory infection with someone on a cell phone.

First thought:  OMG take your infected lungs and leave.

Second:  Is it necessary to repeat everything?

Third:  It's a phone - you don't have to shout.

Fourth:  Are you trying to follow me around the store?

Fifth:  Homicide would probably ruin my weekend.

This isn't new (well, the infection was a new twist, but not annoying public cell phone conversations), and noise pollution is everywhere.

When did 'quiet' get such a bad rap?  Why is it that we can no longer tolerate the sound of our own thoughts?

My conspiracy theory?  All of this noise stimulation (cell phones, iPod, Wii, etc.) makes us numb - or oblivious - to our environment.

Bombarded with constant noise, it is harder for us to know ourselves, ponder an idea or be aware of what's happening in the world.

And after my experience in TJ Maxx, I'm convinced it also contributes to public violence.

What is your noise pollution annoyance?

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  1. *I* like it quiet.

    I like having the radio on in the morning while we're all going through the chaos of breakfast/ lunch-packing/ backpack-finding/ shoe donning/ MOMWHEREAREMYCLEANJEANS??/ getting out the door on time. That just ain't a quiet operation. Ever. The radio helps.

    But I come home from work and leave the TV and radio off. Sigh. It's like sinking into a hot bath: blessed peace.

    I agree. Why, WHY can't we as a society keep ourselves to ourselves at least part of the time? Why do I see other moms dropping off their kids at school, yapping away on their cell phones (don't they know it's their best chance of getting real communication with their kids? and don't they know they nearly clipped me while trying to turn the steering wheel with one hand??)? At times I wish our public sensibility were more like the Japanese, who can't get any literal privacy, so they give it to each other metaphorically by simply pretending other people aren't there...

  2. One of my pet annoyances is the blaring TV that my doctors and dentists have all decided to install in their waiting rooms. (It invariably seems to be tuned to Fox News.) I used to look forward to a little quiet time before an appointment. Harrumph.

  3. Cracker-assing! That one is going into my lexicon for sure! LOL

    Yes, I really need quiet sometimes, no, often. Especially when I come home from work. The public cell phone conversations are supremely annoying. I think it all leads to numbing, as you say. I hate it when ski areas blast rock music all over the slopes. Skiing is a lovely thing to connect with nature, not a dance party and you don't need music to convince yourself that you are having a good time. I like rock music, just not when I am skiing, shopping, eating or relaxing.

    Also, LIGHT pollution is a big one for me. I think a lot of people have no idea how beautiful a starry night sky really is. Much better than anything on TV.

  4. Ah, quiet! A passion of mine....finding it is getting harder every day. Your theory seems sound to me!

    When my husband isn't home, the tv never gets turned on. The stereo is barely used. I need quiet for my mental health. I require it to think. I'm pretty much useless if there is excessive noise.

    My place of employment has been under construction for over a year now. To the daily blare and grind of drills, sledgehammers, backhoes, and grunting workers, add hundreds of noisy students, all armed with cell phones, gabbing and texting, yelling, even kick a library.

    I could really go on about this, but I'm not going to (continue to) hijack your comment section. Plus I would end up really angry by the time I was finished as I feel so strongly about the need for quiet. I've been accused of being an oversensitive drama queen because of it. (I don't care lol)

    Like queen-cupcake, light pollution is also a big problem for me. I'm so happy we moved out of the city and I can experience some real darkness.

  5. Do I ever just like it quiet?! AND HOW! As a child, I never understood why my Mother didn't keep the radio on when she drove. Now, as a mother of two chatty kids and a wife to an equally talkative husband - I get it. Last year I had to have an MRI which, as you may know, is a loud process. It turned to white noise for me, though, and now when the sounds of life overwhelm me I joke that it's time for another MRI so I can get some peace and quiet. (only, I'm not joking) :)

    My biggest noise pollution annoyance is repetitive nonsense, like when my 4 year old says the same phrase over and over or when hubby sings the same (wrong) lyric snippet to a song all day. sigh


  6. SO nice to find kindred spirits, especially since my DH always has to have background sound, even if he is reading. And since he has significant hearing loss in one ear, escaping TV noise is impossible in our home. I've become a morning person by necessity, so that I can enjoy the quiet sounds of nature in the early hours of the day.

  7. Yep, I'm totally with you. I don't understand why people on the train always have to have their headphones on or be talking on the phone. I always have a book with me, but sometimes I just like to ride and think. Same thing when I run or go for long walks. Music distracts me from the thinking!

    Also: Something in our extra room, which holds all my clothes but is also my boyfriend's office, emits a high-frequency electronic whine, and I *cannot* figure out what it is. It persists even when everything seems to be off. I haven't yet tried completely unplugging everything in the room, but it seriously haunts me. He says he barely notices because he usually has tinnitus and often listens to music when he's in there.

  8. I don't know about quiet, but I get stressed out if I have to converse/interact too much. I cannot handle my daily subway/streetcar commute without my iPod anymore. Hearing other people's conversations makes me crazy. I also need a lot of me time at home to stay sane. It's a good thing I don't have kids.

  9. Two bug bears - people talking loudly on mobile phones on trains and other public transport. And people who play music so loudly through their ear phones, again mostly on public transport.

    While I'm partaking fully in the rant, one thing I find extremely rude is when I watch people buying goods in a supermarket or convenience store who keep playing their music through their ear phones and don't bother to switch it off, or say thank you in the process. Riles me every time.

  10. I love silence. The more the better. I work at home so am privileged to have it a lot of the time. The downside to this is that if I have to converse all day -- when visiting relatives for example -- I get exhausted. This constant yapping, yapping on cellphones is just insane, imho.

    However, I do live in a city -- and there is a lot of background noise, not like NYC or anything, but a fair amount of freeway traffic in the distance, sirens, alarms, helicopters and planes overhead. So I guess I can't really call it "silence."

  11. Hi Muse - I totally hear you. Background noise can be almost calming when you're in chaos, but at other times, if I have a choice? Silence always rules.

    Why is it that people driving with cell phones act like they don't even see you when 'almost clipping' your car? Giving me the finger would be less annoying - at least I'd know they saw the damn car.

    Perhaps the Japanese are on to something...

    Always good to hear from you.

  12. Diana, hi! Funny you should mention the blaring TV at the doctor's office as that just happened to me this week when I accompanied my dad to an appointment.

    Do they assume everyone is hard of hearing? And soap operas? Really?

    Harrumph, indeed.

  13. Hi queen_cupcake - glad you like the cracker-assing! It's one of our favorite activities. Just when I think I have said the Most Clever Thing On Earth, my husband will zing back a one-liner that is so good, I just have to high-five him.

    Light sensitivity is an interesting concept, and many of the people I work with deal with that annoyance. I have customized the lighting in my office to be a bit softer than it might otherwise, so I'm good there.

    Loved what you said about the ski slopes. Yeah, don't blast music to make me think I'm having a good time, either. I'm quite capable of that on my own, even when it's quiet. Radical concept, I know.

    Thanks for the comment!

  14. JoanElaine, good to hear from you! That must be hell to work in an environment where the noises of construction are constant. I can imagine that driving me nuts, too!

    I, too, have an extremely large need for quiet and alone time. Everyone can bite me and go play some more Guitar Hero if they don't like it.

    Glad you live somewhere that's a little more peaceful now. And it gets dark!

  15. *jen, I love the MRI thing - that made me laugh! I must have quiet or I get crazy and incredibly cranky, too.

    Like you, I can't stand nonsense noise, which includes small talk. I suck at it - it has absolutely no meaning to me. Why must we chew up quiet space? What the hell is wrong with just 'being?'

    I'm about ready for that MRI myself...

    Thanks for your comment!

  16. Hi Sharon - yes, it's nice to know that others feel the way we do! I, too, am a morning person and love that silent time before the sun comes up. It's often the best part of my day!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  17. Hi Elisa - I love the quiet thinking thing, too, and miss it desperately when too much noise invades my life.

    The whining noise could make you crazy - that I understand. Especially when no one else hears it! I trust the detective in you will sleuth it out and end the madness.

    Always fun to hear from you!

  18. kjanicki, I totally feel you. Sometimes, the mundane conversations of others blows my mind, like they don't feel alive unless they are blathering on about every boring detail of their lives!

    iPods exist for a reason.

    Alone time is my sanity, which may be one reason I love perfume; it doesn't require interaction and I don't have to feign interest in the story of its life...

    Thanks for your comment!

  19. Michael, hi - yeah, that gets to me, too. Like noise precludes the need to show any type of manners at all.

    'Hey, I'm not really an asshole, I'm just listening to my iPod, dude!' Oblivious.

    The rant wouldn't be complete without your comment - thanks!

  20. Olfacta, great to hear from you! I, too, freak out if I have to interact with people all day. I'm okay in spurts, but must have a break every couple of hours or so because I just can't sustain my 'give a damn' all day.

    If I can get away and recharge, crawl into the silence of my thoughts for awhile, I can return and do it all over again.

    While I don't live in the city, I do find the sounds of traffic kind of comforting at night. It's not yapping - perhaps that's why.

  21. Mr Bonkers watches his preferred kind of "smash 'em kill 'em" films on the TV with the volume turned up way too loud - I find this so annoying, but if I ask him to turn it down he always comes back with the same smart ass reply: "It's as loud as it needs to be".

    : - )

    I also don't approve of TV in the daytime, or TV as background noise. Watch it - in the evening, at a modest volume - or turn it off!

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