Sunday, July 03, 2005

"Falling Off"

As I sit in my home-office/spare bedroom, I can hear more noise than I should be caused to hear without my express permission. I have not given anybody permission to make this much noise. The noise is coming from cars, motorcycles and dogs. But, the noise is being made by inconsiderate people. I often feel like the character played by Michael Douglas in the movie titled "Falling Down". Douglas portrays a man that is so fed up with everybody's "screw you" attitude that he starts doing to them what many of us only imagine.

It seems that most people don’t even notice. The downside of which is that everybody thinks that I’m nuts. For example, let’s say that you and I are separately shopping for new cars and we are both walking through the same car lot with several other people. Then a young man about 25 years old drives into the lot in a convertible with the top down. When he gets out of his car he leaves his radio on and the volume high. Before he is 10 feet from his car, I shout “turn down your radio”. He turns his radio off. That’s good. Everybody else in the parking lot stares at me as though I might start spraying the parking lot with bullets. That’s bad. My wife starts pretending that we aren’t together. Did you feel like shouting “turn down your radio”? Did you think I was a nut?

The typical car of a young person today is not overloaded with horsepower as in my youth; they are overloaded with noise. Their so-called mufflers are designed to convert the exhaust of their puny engines into a noise as loud as track-side at a drag race. It reminds me of the old adage “if you can’t sing well, sing loud”. And, of course, the car is equipped with a powerful sound system with special emphasis on the base frequencies. You don’t need this much power to listen to your music unless your car is in a different state than you are. The power is needed to punch through the exterior and interior walls of every house within a quarter-mile of the car. So, even though you are in your shower with the door closed and the spray cascading over your head, you won’t escape the penetrating base beat. It can seem like you are inside of giant heart. You can’t escape the noise.

It isn’t just the youth that are making the noise. Men of all ages are riding motorcycles with the same so-called mufflers as the youth have on their cars. These bikes are typically louder than the cars. Riding a bike satisfies some need in these men that nothing else in their lives can satisfy. Riding alone isn’t adequate. The bike has to be loud. The louder the better. The men have do dress like outlaw bikers. Of course, they aren’t outlaw bikers and I wasn’t a real cowboy when, at 6 years of age, I dressed up like Roy Rogers. I don’t mind if a person has to live a fantasy but they don’t have the right to fill the environment, especially my environment, with unnecessary noise.

A couple houses away from my home-office, is a relatively new resident of this area. This person has about 5 dogs in various sizes. The dogs bark constantly. They don’t need stimulus from outside their fenced yard to begin barking. They bark at each other. I thank God that I’m not living immediately next to them and I can’t help but wonder how long their next door neighbors will put up with the barking. Unless I go into my office-office, I work in my home-office from about 7 AM to 7 PM. The dogs will bark non-stop for at least 8 of those 12 hours. Does the owner of the dogs realize how much they are disturbing their neighbors? Of course! At the least they don’t care what effect the noise has on the neighbors. However, I suspect that this kind of neighbor gets some satisfaction from disturbing the neighborhood.

I wonder why these people have to violate others for their satisfaction. I wonder even more why the laws against these abuses aren’t enforced by our police. Why do we tolerate these abuses of our rights? When was the last time you called or wrote your mayor or police chief to demand an end to this? I wrote our mayor a couple of years ago. He was apparently too busy to acknowledge my letter and he obviously didn’t take the action I demanded.

I heard over all the noise last week that a neighboring town has decided to crack down on speeders. That’s great. I wish Danbury would do the same. Why did we ever let speeding get out of control in the first place? Why do most drivers think it is appropriate to drive 45 mph in a 25 mph zone? Why can you see at least one car driving through a red light every time you stop at an intersection? How often do you see a school bus speeding along the back roads of Danbury? Every school bus that passes through the intersection in front of my house is speeding. “Every school bus” is not an exaggeration. The school buses going into town also frequently run the stop sign at my intersection. Why not? 9 out of 10 cars do the same thing.

I’m getting close to retirement (you guessed, right?). I’ve lived in Danbury for 26 years and not one of those years will make me think twice about moving out of Danbury as soon as possible. I know that Danbury isn’t the only town with a noise and speeding problem. However, I’m going to keep looking until I find a place I can call Peace and Quiet. It may be the difference between my sanity and my insanity. After all, I don’t want to be one of the increasing numbers of people who are “Falling Off” like the Michael Douglas character.


Laura said...

This is a good rant. I can't wait to get out of Danbury and away from all the noise and traffic - let's GO !!!

Anonymous said...

Now I understand why some people thought this post was humorous. Especially the part about speeding and running red lights. I don't know that people who drive motorcycles have some kind of need to satisfy, or fantasy to fulfil, maybe they just enjoy riding like people enjoy anything else. Too bad it is loud though, but that must make it more enjoyable for them. I don't feel violated by that, but I can understand why you would. I feel like my rights are violated when people blatantly break the law, and put others in danger, by speeding, running lights, and tailgating.

Joe said...

To "Me",

I have no doubt that the owner of a loud motorcycle enjoys the loudness. But the owner is not unaware that the noise is extremely loud to everybody within a city block. The owner doesn't make the loud noise because others like it but in spite of the fact that others might not like it. When the young "gentlemen" raced their bikes up and down the street outside your mom's condo, if they thought for a moment about you and your neighbors, it was not a thought of concern.

I know that you are thinking that I could be a better, safer driver. I agree but I never do things that intrude on others.

Anonymous said...

We couldn't hear that much noise from our old condo, being so far in the back away from the street. Having a guy who has a motorcycle live across from us though, I know how it is. Sometimes he lets his bike sit running for a long time, to warm it up I guess, and that is annoying. I don't consider it spiteful, just really careless. Everyone is careless at times, which still is no excuse.
I don't think anyone should ever use the word "never". Do you not think that running lights, speeding and tailgating is intruding on others rights? Because I do. Everyone does it, or has done it, though.