By Emily Rosen
I am a positive person, actually an optimist. I am not a complainer. If the soup isn’t hot enough, I don’t send it back; I slurp it anyway. If the gardener allows the branches from my trees to bend over onto the walkway, I take a pair of clippers and prune away. If the cashier at the dollar store checked out one dollar too many, I tend not to go back for my dollar. Two dollars? Maybe! If “they” predict rain on my beach day, I go anyway, knowing how wrong “they” can be. And when friends lie prostrate on the floor kicking and screaming about the election, I bring them a drink of water and a cold wash cloth and say, “Give it a chance.”
But here are two irritations that just won’t go away – and I AM complaining this time. Both have to do with noise. My hearing has recently been checked, and, for a tottering senior, it functions remarkably well. So I get seriously agitated with loud noises that interfere with my ability to hold a conversation.
The first culprit is the leaf blower. This may seem like paranoia, but I am certain that the Leaf Blowers Union has a schedule of my activities, and that the most persistent of them is assigned to me on a daily basis. My location doesn’t matter as long as it has a tree with falling leaves. Having a philosophical chat, or engaging in titillating gossip on anyone’s back-yard patio or even the most prestigious hotel grounds in any state, province or outlying other-world country, inevitably signals the arrival of “the leaf blower” followed closely, on my part, by a series of non-modulated “what”s?
The above is what I call an active transgression. The noise abatement issue that is more treacherously passive occurs in restaurants all over the world at the most popular hangouts. Of course, if you are European or South American and you are accustomed to dining more towards the midnight hour, you might not feel the stinging resentment of paying outrageous prices per person to scream at your companions or to play the ping pong game of “what, what and what?” By that hour, when your choice of entree has already been ingested to the max with no remaining pickings, the crowd has thinned, the service help anticipates release, you can get away with whispering conversations.
But for those of us who prefer to dine at the socially acceptable hours between 7 and 8 p.m. any day of the week — forgetaboutit!
Dismissing the probability that you have already waited beyond 10 minutes for your reserved table, once you are seated and anticipating a pleasant catch-up conversation with your companions, you will be wishing for a megaphone and/or hearing aids — that work.
But, I was warned early on that life is not fair. In a desperate appeal to higher educators, I offer to support any noise abatement program on your campus that can come up with what should be a simple solution, given that men have gone to the moon, and automobiles are now running without drivers.
So until someone takes me up on my offer, you will find me in the aisles of Publix, where shopping is indeed a quiet pleasure, purchasing ingredients for healthy meals at home – often with friends – and on track for becoming the hostess of the year.