Quiet, Please!

Maybe it’s a function of old age. Or it could be the tinnitus I trace to that earplug-less airboat ride in Florida many years back. But I am increasingly annoyed by the noise that permeates our culture. I’ve previously written how I love our nearby Target because they have no blaring music to accompany my shopping. In fact, they have no music at all. Instead of the repetitious screeching of this or that pop diva, which has sent me fleeing from more than one retail venue, unable to think straight enough to make a prudent purchase decision, this store is funeral home quiet. Ahhh! Unfortunately, that’s the exception that proves the rule.

Then there are restaurants. It seems like my wife and I always get seated directly under the tinny speaker belting out a continuous sampling of everything Frank Sinatra has ever sung–so loud that we can’t even carry on a conversation. She hates it when I ask to be moved and we have to schlep our water glasses and silverware to a new location, only to smile and pretend to be satisfied that the annoying aural intrusion is only half as bad.

But my real pet peeve is vehicular noise. We live near what must be the loudest intersection in our small town. And because it’s a four-way stop, all of the muscle cars, FlowMaster-equipped pickups, diesel trucks, straight pipe Harleys and pimply adolescents driving clapped our Corollas with exhaust canisters bigger than Trump’s ego (and, it seems, the preceding now constitute 95% of all the vehicles transiting this intersection) have to stop and then roar to a start. Some night I’m going to pull a “Cool Hand Luke” and sneak down to the corner to make two of those stop signs disappear, so they can just keep going up the hill that starts at that crossroad.

Frankly, since we have to get our vehicles inspected every year, I have long advocated adding a requirement for factory-level noise emissions. Then, at least yearly, all those yahoos would have to undo all that obnoxious stuff they add to make their vehicles sound macho and then replace them after they’ve passed inspection. My guess is that such an annual chore would bring things down to an overall tolerable level.

But, since I know this will never happen, I recently thought I saw, or heard, an alternative chance for relief on the horizon. When we got our first Prius, people walking in parking lots gave us angry looks because we were so silently sneaking up on them. So, now with an all-electric vehicular future about to dawn, I had a momentary moment of hope. That is, until I considered two things:

First, by the time enough vehicles become electric to make a difference, I’ll probably have passed from the scene.

And two, I failed to underestimate the American proclivity for misplaced ingenuity and creative adaptation. It won’t be long until someone has devised some gadget or accessory that will allow quiet EV’s to roar like their petro-powered predecessors.

I can just see it now. That oversized EV pickup ramming down our 25 MPH street at about 45, MAGA flags flying from its rear, with some sort of electronically produced engine howl complementing the boom-box base pouring out of the open windows. Oh, and the driver will probably be packing, so I won’t be throwing any rocks. Guess I’ll just have to sulk.

©2022, David B Bucher

PS: At the risk of being a hypocrite and not admitting it, I submit the following. That’s me on the right.

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