Noise: Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, strife, quarrel, noise, from Latin nausea meaning nausea.
That explains it!! Noise, especially noise for no reason other than to be loud definitely makes me nauseous! In fact, it is one of my pet peeves. Actually, it’s more than a pet peeve – it’s one of the things that really makes my life more unpleasant than it should be.
I started thinking about this topic yesterday when we went out for lunch. We stopped for gas near a set of traffic lights on the way home. Nice afternoon – car windows were open. Lunch had been practically free – we had a gift certificate. So I was really relaxed – not to mention full. Postprandial stupor, a friend calls it. The lights turned red for the more heavily trafficked road at the intersection and then it happened.
The first car in line was one of those “souped up” models that sounds like it has no muffler. It must have been a standard transmission, too, because the driver had to keep giving it gas so it wouldn’t stall out. So it was a constant “Rev,””Idle,””Rev,””Idle”… until the light changed, then “Vroooom” as he pulled away when the light turned green. I was sooo impressed! I get equally impressed by the guys who have to burn rubber as they pull away, making that squealing noise as they burn away their tires in an effort to show the rest of us how cool they are. I don’t have the money to waste ruining my tires, so I tend to pull away slowly. I don’t have much need to impress anyway. I definitely wouldn’t enjoy making all that noise myself.
I live much too close to an Interstate highway that was put in after my house was built on a quiet, dead end street over 50 years ago. When it was built, the highway, not the house, there wasn’t a whole lot of traffic on it. Over the years, as population in the area has increased and everyone has a car (or 2 or 3), the traffic on the highway has increased, too. But it isn’t the traffic I mind – it’s the noise. In the winter, with the windows closed, you don’t notice it very much. But as soon as the weather changes in spring and the weather is warm enough to open the windows, I’m in for a rude awakening. There are the loud cars zipping past, the trailer trucks barreling down the road – shifting gears and hitting the rumble strip when they drift, the sirens of ambulances and other emergency vehicles. Makes it much harder to hear the birds I feed.
Of course, when it comes to noise, those who are closest to you (neighbors) seem to know how to make the “best” noise. At least the ones on my street do. For the past couple of days, one neighbor has been using a power sander to sand some piece of metal for hours on end. It’s sounded like a dentist’s drill going all day, right outside my door. With all due apologies to dentists and dental workers, who do an important and essential job making that noise, I think it’s one of the most hated noises there is. The smaller kids in the neighborhood have riding toys. It used to be kid-powered Big Wheels with their plastic wheels grinding along the pavement. Now it’s battery powered riding toys, with their motors whining and their wheels grinding on the pavement. New and improved noise. And to think this used to be a quiet street with mostly elderly folks, where the loudest noise was a lawn mower.
The winners for the “Noisiest Neighbors” award go to the folks who live directly across the street. They have 2 kids who don’t seem to know how to communicate without screeching at each other. The boy, now 10, seems to be calming down a bit. Even when the other neighborhood boys come over to play, they seem to be able to play without screaming. But the girl, about 12, doesn’t seem to be outgrowing the need for noise. Even when she’s in her own house (and I’m in mine) and can hear her screeching at everyone. Maybe it’s PMS? I’m sure some guy will find that an alluring quality in the future. They say that children learn what they live, and in this case, I would have to say I find some truth to that observation. My neighbor drives a big rig for a living. Good, honest work. He used to have one of those 18-wheel dump trucks that he parked in front of the house. That’s gone, thank goodness; but he does own his own cab which he uses for work. Where does he park this? Alongside his driveway – directly across from my bedroom window! He takes good care of his truck, which includes letting it run to “warm up” before he goes to work between 4 & 5 AM – noise and fumes to wake up to. He does maintainance on his truck – idle, rev, idle, rev … noise.
My “Noisiest Neighbor” seems to take joy in noise – the louder, the better, especially with his toys. He has an older (I hesitate to call it antique) Trans Am that he keeps in his garage. The “good car” and his pickup are in the driveway or on the street. He doesn’t drive the Trans Am much, only when the weather is nice, never in winter. But when he does take it out, it has to spend at least half an hour “warming up” in the driveway (across from my front door as well as the bedroom windows). “Warming up” includes frequent severe accelerations while still in park – that thing would be going 150 mph if you ever put it in gear while he does that! Aside from wasting gas and making lots of noise, I have never understood doing that to a car. I would think you would be putting unnecessary stess and strain on the engine that would cause the engine to wear out faster (not to mention the neighbors). There have also been dirt bikes for dad and the kids, which of course need to be tested and maintained. What better place to do that that the front yard? Now they’ve got a nice, big boat, parked in the front yard of course. At least we don’t have to hear that running. Maybe we’re making some progress, as long as we stay away from the lake.
The guy that lives next to the “Noisiest Neighbor” won runner-up in the contest. He has two daughters (11 & 13) that occasionally compete for the screeching award, though they really can’t come close. His problem, I think, is his 50-something hearing. When he comes outside, he has to put his stereo speakers in the windows and crank up the volume so he can hear it outside. Two problems: his selection of music is sorely limited and when he can hear it, so can the folks two towns over. This is the same guy that’s been using the “dentist’s drill” sander – maybe he can’t hear it?
If people like noise, which I really don’t think I’ll ever understand, the least they could do is keep it to themselves. I really hate noise – it makes me feel irritable, annoyed, cranky. Mind you, I don’t hate sound. I like the sounds of birds and buffalo. I enjoy harmonious music. Conversation in a normal tone is fine. It’s the excesses and the quality of some sounds that make them intolerable. But noise makes me sick!!
I also really like quiet, even silence (which is getting very difficult to find these days). It’s one of the things I like about being in the woods or in church, although sadly people aren’t respecting the need for quiet in church before services the way they used to. The need and desire for peace and quiet is one of the reasons I like it out west (Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota). There is more of it out there. That’s probably one of the reasons I would move out there if I didn’t have family constraints.
So I try to find quiet where I can. I get to church a little earlier than most. I stay out of city traffic whenever I can. I get up earlier than I used to and sometimes stay up later than I should to find the quiet times of the day. I spend more time in the back of the house.
You could help, if you like. How? Keep it down! Think about how the noise you make effects those around you. They don’t call it “noise pollution” for nothing. And if the nice approach hasn’t worked,
Knock it off!
Turn off the noise makers!