I am indoors steaming because of machine noise.  My formerly peaceful, rural environment has become a cesspool of cacophony in my lifetime.  Even as I write, my neighbor brother-in-law is mowing the lawn between our houses.  He couldn’t do it over the weekend, when all the neighbors were outside with their power tools, and the Gun Club was a’popping down the street.  No, he had to wait until today, so he could rev his lawnmower for an hour, complete with backfires and my slim and waning hope that it would stop for good, or that he would give up.  The grass doesn’t even need mowing.

It may be said that I am adding to the noise by my complaints.  It seems the world is overpopulated with people and machines screaming for attention.  There are so many demands on attention, from so many sources, that it’s tempting to shut them all out, if that were possible.  I understand now why people go deaf.

Last night it occurred to me that I look forward to the evenings and the relief from the constant demands on attention—and my rooster is crowing—from phone ringing for sales or survey calls, or the daily hang-up calls.  I get enough noise from the nags inside my head, who are constantly badgering me to do something or other.

Am I the only person on the planet who likes peace and quiet, with emphasis on quiet?  There are people who say they like “white noise.”  They can’t sleep without it.  It is said nature abhors a vacuum.  Even formerly empty space—phone rings, and I hang up without even looking to see who’s calling—is now said to be full of “dark matter” and “dark energy,” suggesting there are no vacuums anywhere.  I wonder if the theorized black holes are actually vacuums, with the common characteristic of sucking everything into them.  Is gravity, then, a vacuum begging to be filled?  Does silence attract sound, like magnets attract iron filings?

Ahhhh . . . The lawn mower has stopped.  My rooster Squire, who I moved to the filing cabinet next to me, is quiet for the moment, looking quizzically at me.  Now, the lawn mower is back.

I used to frequent coffee shops, but no more.  I’m tired of asking the personnel to turn the music down.  How many grocery store or big-box store cashiers have I asked if they get paid extra to listen to the “I Died and Went to Hell” music at top volume?  I tell them to tell their bosses the music is driving customers away.  Has it made a difference, in the years I’ve complained?  “I just tune it out,” a cashier once told me, “but that’s harder to do when it’s skipping.”

In my lifetime, “progress” and “development” has occurred all around my neighborhood.  Not only that, but the perpetual US wars have contributed to an increase in size and activity of Georgia military bases.  One of them, the Hunter Army Airfield, is within a couple of miles—as the jet flies—from my house, with its flight path directly overhead.  I always know when troops are being deployed, because planes fly low overhead every five minutes, headed for Iraq or Afghanistan, or wherever they are sending the testosterone-poisoned to make war this week.

Savannah has grown up around Hunter over the past 60-odd years, but Yankees have invaded on the ground, too, with the conversion of International Paper’s island and former tree farm to a gated community real estate development, complete with three taxpayer-funded bridges over the intra-coastal waterway.  My formerly peaceful residence happens to lie between town and this gilded prison, which  has led to an increase in traffic and more development along the route.  Because of construction and clearing of trees for same, vegetation no longer blocks or absorbs the noise, and the traffic becomes a roar at rush hour, especially when the tide is high.

In order to serve these Yankees and their ilk, the county has courted “progress” in the form of a Walmart and Sam’s Club within hearing distance and adjacent to a new parkway so that the Yankees can get home from town faster.  This brought three stoplights and attendant congestion, along with a street sweeper in the wee hours in the Walmart parking lot.

I put the fear of the lord in the street sweeper at 2 a.m. one night, when he woke me up, because this “progress” along with the “progress” of the grass seeder at International Paper’s real estate development golf courses, has caused my property taxes to double in the last ten years.

Now all governments claim to want “progress” and “economic development,” but the flaw in this reasoning is that current residents are expected to pay for the governments’ desire to attract future residents.  The Yankees gloat about how living expenses are lower here than in the urban cesspools from which they escaped, but they have raised my living expenses, taxes, and have created mayhem on my stomping grounds.

My brother-in-law is not a Yankee, but he loves his power tools, just as the coffee shops love their “Feel My Pain” music, the military loves its helicopters and jets, the Gun Club loves its guns, the whole world loves its SUVs, trucks and other gas guzzlers, the neighbors love their barking dogs, and my roosters love to crow.

What’s the difference between a Northerner and a Yankee?  A Northerner visits and goes home.  A Yankee buys real estate for inflated prices, gets a parkway and bridges built for him, owns a couple of SUVs, and stays to criticize those they have elbowed aside, like the deer on the former tree farm, which now grows houses and golf courses.

I contend the noise is driving everyone crazy, but can people hear themselves think anymore?  Do they want to?







12 thoughts on “Noise

  1. Sha'Tara

    I do commiserate. So glad I’m retired now. You can’t go past a work site or roofing jobs that boom boxes aren’t blaring. Also thankful I’m half deaf, only it’s the wrong pitch that’s gone out: deep bass and sirens are killers. Yes we certainly live in an extremely noisy world, a type of pervasive pollution that is no longer even mentioned. People have tuned off and it’s not just noise they are no longer hearing, it’s real music and real conversation. Face it, Katharine, we’re observing the downfall of an increasingly irrelevant society.

  2. juliecroundblog

    The most annoying noise in my life is the constant chatter of folk who come to our jazz dinners. Once a month we go to listen to our favourite traditional jazz band who play at a public house which serves meals.Luckily we have a permanent booking for a table in front of the band but we can still hear when people are holding a (shouted) conversation behind us while the music is playing. It is especially annoying during solos.Otherwise we are fortunate in that our tiny close of bungalows is not on a flight path or near a busy road.
    I write in silence although some people like to have music playing.
    Hubby has ear plugs as he says even my breathing at night can keep him awake – too polite to call it snoring!

    1. katharineotto Post author

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve been known to hush rude talkers, and I wish there were more people like me. I get tired of always being the “heavy.” Also, you’d be surprised how many people thank me when I ask barristers to turn the music down in coffee shops.

    1. katharineotto Post author

      I’ve been known to get up at 4 a.m. to sip coffee and stare into “peaceful” space. I’m told that meditators around the world rise at two a.m. (their time) to participate in planetary meditation. If that’s true, there’s someone meditating at all hours of the day and night. I hope they are meditating for peace and quiet.

  3. thetruthaboutmentalhealth

    Noise pollution!! So annoying. No matter where I’ve lived I’ve often had building developments happening nearby … and people love their power tools. When I see a lot of developments going it reminds me of orks building mordor. Lol. That insatiable desire for bigger better faster more. Too much is never enough etc etc.. I agree peace and quiet is best but not always an option. I like a real fan for white noise. Or these kind of tracks. They actually do work to block out noise and I like how this one has more of a rain sound vibe.

    1. katharineotto Post author

      I’m not a “fan” of white noise, unless it drowns out worse sounds.

      It occurs to me that this fast paced development and “progress” is all based on debt. Imagine how the pace would slow if credit were harder to obtain and people had to live within their means.

      1. Sha'Tara

        That is more than an excellent point – a truism if there ever was one. Our global economies are nothing but a Ponzi scheme to which people will wake up only when it has stripped everything they own and hold dear. That is the way of it for they are programmed to believe they can win if the play the game to the bitter end. That’s history.

      2. thetruthaboutmentalhealth

        Good point. I think the GFC demonstrated how destructive unethical lending can be. I think a cultural change is happening though with movements like the tiny houses as people look to create homes that would give them more freedom and less reliance on burdening debt . We still have a long way to go though. The whole system is based on ideas of growth which are unsustainable

      3. katharineotto Post author

        The “growth” as currently envisioned, is cancerous. Natural growth, as with a plant, occurs from within and is balanced. It’s a huge topic that deserves careful consideration. Like who (or what) benefits from this “growth”?

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