When our group of close family friends was confined to a Wisconsin cabin one rainy day many years ago, one of the adults was dubbed “Crabby Old Aunt Pat” after scolding the two young boys who were being boys. Normally calm and patient, Pat reached her breaking point as the gloom and confinement intensified the antics of the restless children. We parents, inure to the arrhythmia of the dribbling basketball and laughter, were relieved that the boys were leaving us to our books. Pat has accepted the moniker with good humor, and the incident has become legend.
During this current shelter-in-place, life has literally quieted. There are fewer aircraft disturbing the skies. The traffic behind our house on the street that leads to the local school is noticeably lessened. The boys are home but upstairs most of the time, out of sight and sound. Friends and family are no longer stopping by.
The major sounds in our house consist of our daughter on her phone for work and our younger grandson distance learning or watching Youtube. I have become accustomed to quiet which is my natural preference.
The cacophony reverberating from the Starbucks walk-up window this past Sunday hit me like a wall. The loud music (definitely something later than the ‘90’s) required that I call out and wave for service. With my voice muffled by my mask and overwhelmed by the decibels of the music, I repeated my name three times for the barista to understand and retrieve my order. The whole exchange took less than one minute but was long enough to make me uncomfortable, triggering anxiety as I returned to the car.
Noise is unwanted sound. Music to one person is noise to another. Or music in one situation is noise in another. There is no doubt that the noise in Starbucks is music to those young baristas, and I certainly don’t begrudge them that joy while working alone during these stressful times.
As I reflected on my disturbed emotions, my only concern was actually for myself: how will I live in the post virus world?