The Noise

First published on September 19 2008

The world is full of noise. Yes, yes, very deep insight, I’m such a philosopher, I know. But it is too. Car noise, train noise, pipe-creaking, baby-wailing, wall-drilling and late-night bad-samba-music when-I’m-trying-to-sleep noise.

One thing I have come to appreciate in my later years is the need for places where we can preserve silence. Places like libraries (although not Swedish libraries, where mobile phone use is practically encouraged) and even churches. Just a place to turn off the constant din, a place to bring the kids in the future and tell them “This is how things were before the world got filled up with rubbish.”

But some noises piss me off more than others. Two in particular. And both of them have to do with travelling.

First of all, I hate people who talk loudly on their mobiles while on public transport. You should fuck off, plain and simple. I have no interest in where you are going, or what marital problems you have, or what slop your partner plans to make you for dinner. SMS was invented for situations like this so, for the love of Carl, just use it. And shut the hell up.

And then, the real corker, the main course – those people who sit there with their idiotic headphones and play music loud enough to entertain the entire train carriage. I mean, seriously, play music by all means, please do. But does it have to be so loud that I can hear every single fucking beat? That it makes my knees knock together? That it makes your dandruff tumble in little white waterfalls down from your greasy head?

And its always the same kind of music that is played at these volumes – hard, fast and loud. And generally rubbish. I can’t really understand, being not at all a morning person, why anybody would need that kind of music at 7:22 on a weekday. And why so fucking loud? Is it because your hearing has been damaged from listening to too much crud? Or are you just making a statement, as in – “Oh, look at me, I have social status because I have tosser Apple hardwear and loud noises emerging from my head. Thus I am cool. Aren’t I cool?”

And this is not about right or wrong, it’s a matter of fucking courtesy. Nobody wants to hear another person’s “music” in such a deformed manner. Nobody at all. It’s plan and simply annoying, and that’s all there is to it. You are a selfish prick, period, and I piss on your “right” to “express yourself”.

And if your morning music is so fucking important to you, why don’t you chuck the tinny pieces of crap you got with your iPod and invest in proper headphones with minimal leakage? No, of course you won’t, because you want to be noticed and to annoy people in public, because that’s the kind of cool don’t-give-a-damn person that you are.

I can think of a few ways to deal with these people. One would be to move to another seat. Cowardly but effective.

Another way would be to sit beside one of them and spread my newspaper wide so that it covers both them and me. And if they don’t like it, well, why don’t they move? It’s a public place, and I can’t help it if they find my newspaper distracting.

I could make grotesque faces at them. And if they don’t like that, well, then they should stop looking and accept that they will see things that they don’t like on the subway.

Or perhaps I could fart uncontrollably. Farting is of course unavoidable, and they should be prepared for a few smells when on public transport, shouldn’t they?

Maybe the best solution would be to procure a portable EMP generator which I could use to knock out all electronics within a 5 metre radius – mobile phones, iPods, Cylon fighters, pacemakers, the train’s braking systems, the lot.

Or I could accept that the world will always be full of arseholes and just go buy a fucking car.

/ paddy

20 thoughts on “The Noise

  1. I vote for the EMP.

    I have a lovely fantasy about killing a person talking on their mobile in a bookshop.

    That is to say: I totally understand where you are coming from and I’m very sorry.

  2. I spend way too much time on trains and would like to add another irritation to the hit list. People who carry out loud unintelligent conversations about really boring or personal subjects.

    This is not about happening to overhear what someone sitting behind you says. I am talking about not being able to block out a voice from someone halfway across the train carriage.

  3. It´s a huge problem and the reason I regulary get into conflicts while going by train to Copenhagen or visiting the city library. I refuse to chut up and last time I went by train I wore orange T-formed earplugs under my husbands huge ear protection guards (very yellow ones) and a black top with white text “Silence Zone” on the front and “Shut the fuck up” on the back.
    Four or five people really liked it and gave me the tumbs up but the rest of the idiots didn´t even understand what it was all about.
    They probably thougt I was on my run from St Lars.

  4. Earplugs don´t protect you from low base frequencies!!!

    Last time I went to Malmö i boked a “silent compartment”, it was absolutley lovey. People didnt talk either. In calm and peace I solved a crossword, slept, worked and so on….

    It would be great if a nosiy alarm started off every time a sound over a certain decibel occures. What if the alarm sounds like “scratching nails on a black board” or similar. That could piss those terrible people off.

    But one question remains! Why do people with a public need to express themselves have bad taste in music, like crap RnB or postgrunge shit from this century? In my student dorm all the people that studied ingineering had fantastic loadspeakers and were really hi-fi neards, but they didnt care about music. So the rest of us had to put up with crap dance music coming from fantastic hi-fi system all day long. (If they would have been any justice Robin Hood would have taken their fantastic musical boxes and given it to us less fortuned with good music taste). So maybe they way people need express themselves is either by own creativity or by being enoying.

  5. I especially like those times when I have my Ipod in and play music like I usually do, and hear other peoples earphonemusic -through- my own. I just dont get it.

  6. “last time I went by train I wore orange T-formed earplugs under my husbands huge ear protection guards (very yellow ones) and a black top with white text “Silence Zone” on the front and “Shut the fuck up” on the back.”

    Blackout–I pronounce that outstanding. I would have beamed at you and probably tried for a hi-five.

    What *I* don’t understand about people who listen to music at that volume is how they can hear ANYTHING. If I have my headphones up loud enough someone else can hear it then it’s too loud to sound like anything over than distortion.

    Perhaps that makes the music sound better.

    ‘You know, kids, good music can be enjoyed at a volume that won’t make your neighbours homicidal.’

  7. Something that really buggs me is people who cant shut it in places like libaries and cinemas. People in cinemas text sms, talk loudly and make comments on the film all the time. Eating people has always been annoying but eating while watching or reading helps out the concentration. But talking not wispering!!! Don´t these people want to see a film they paid 85 SEK for? And don´t they care about other people paying 85 SEK? I t`s all this home-cinema-big-flatscreeen-tv-perfect-sound-in-your-own-livingroom-thing that made people ignorant. They concidering the cinema as their own livingroom. Or maybe, due to all these commercial breaks , they can´t keep the concentration more than 15 min.
    It´s a plus if you don´t like to mainstream films, then you can avoid some of these people.

  8. Alex: I´m so glad that you like my small protest act. I really love my husband but, to be honest, this was a shock for him and he tried to do a thing about it: “My wife on the train with….” etc etc. I had to talk very harsh and clearly and in the end he understood my act of moral courage.
    But the yellow one´s are gone, or hidden, so I have to buy my own.

  9. Alex Foster: You can claim temporary insanity. It might just work.

    Tor: No, I still think the EMP is the way to go.

    Mathias Klang: But EVERY conversation not involving me is boring.

    Blackout: Well it’s not exactly a HUGE problem, but I do like your solution.

    H: I like your “noise level” alarm. You could probably sell it to every daycare in Sweden.

  10. LadyFi: Hurrah, an award! Do I get a book voucher too?

    H: Yes I hate those people too. Especially the one father who brought 2 very small kids to see a movie in Japanese and had to read out EVERY line of text to the kids in a harsh whisper. And was sitting right beside me. People like this should be suffocated by popcorn.

  11. Seriously, though, Paddy, try it! You will die a happier man: it makes a huge difference. I would go so far as to say that, with regard to this problem, earplugs are the next best thing to fellow passengers endowed with a sense of human decency — and the latter phenomenon, we know, is not encountered in Stockholm.

  12. Julia: I am being intolerant? What, I have to like EVERYTHING that people do just because they want to do it? No I don’t. Do what you want, but don’t annoy others. Simple.

  13. Some people have no internal monitoring system like the rest of us. I wouldn’t dream of talking loudly on a mobile phone in a public place – or carrying on loud conversations so everyone can hear me. I think the answer is to take their mobile phone and insert it somewhere they can’t hear it ringing!

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