Tuesday, 12 June, 2001

Wishing for Quiet

In contrast to Saturday, which was my best commercial flying experience in quite some time, this evening's trip home from Washington was difficult.  I don't much care where they seat me on an airplane, as it's easy enough to tune out the engine noise, but a family with three screaming kids whose parents can tune them out is almost unbearable after the first hour and a half.  By the time we landed in Dallas, I was tempted to muzzle the kids and beat the parents.  Following that, I was treated to an over-loud television in the Dallas departure lounge, more annoying cell phone freaks, and an incredibly inane conversation between a 23-year-old Romeo and the young woman he was trying to hit on, who were sitting behind me on the flight to Austin.  Tomorrow I'm going to buy some of those disposable ear plugs and put them in my travel bag.

I've come to realize that quiet is among the most precious conditions, perhaps because it is increasingly difficult to find.  Everywhere, noise.  Background music in all too many restaurants is loud enough to preclude quiet contemplation or pleasant conversation.  Airport departure lounges have annoying cell phone users, blaring televisions, too-loud background music, and screaming kids.  Step outside in the city and hear sirens, trucks, and booming car stereos.  Go camping and the people two sites over start screaming at each other or some idiot starts up his motorcycle.  The lake is full of jet boats and personal water craft.  Even out in the country where I live it's hard to get away from noise.  Lawn mowers start at 7:00 on the weekend and go all day.  Inside, the the refrigerator's running and the air conditioner comes on entirely too frequently.  Noise, noise, noise.

I find little so precious as a quiet Spring night at home, when it's cool enough to forego the air conditioner.  If I turn off the computer and stay in the back of the house, I don't even hear the refrigerator--only the occasional aircraft flying high overhead now that they've moved the airport.  It's not perfect.  Perfect would be a house in the middle of several thousand acres, away from major highways and normal air routes.