Public Space

14 Jan

I don’t look at them until they turn on the music. It’s a phone on speakers so the sound has a sharp unpleasant edge to it. Otherwise, I might have enjoyed the beat. The words might even have been poetic from what I glean from the occasional set that I hear.

They look like teenagers. Two girls, two boys. We are all passengers on BART. I am two seats away from them, facing them diagonally.

Earlier I had overheard their conversation. They were saying the words of a song, a rap.  I heard a few words here and there and tried to hear more. But couldn’t tease out the poem. So, I was lost in my own thoughts when I was forced out of my quiet escape by the phone speaker.

I look at them to let them know that I am unpleased with this invasion of my personal space. My quiet request is ignored. The music continues. I decide to adjust to the situation and try to listen. The rudeness of the situation is more overpowering than any musical or poetic words and I can only relax once the song is over and the kid turns off the speaker.

This is akin to the occasional car that passes me on the roads in San Francisco with music blaring loud enough to make me wonder if the driver has hearing problems. I feel as if sound pollution is slowly encroaching my personal space and I’m powerless to do anything about it. I wish I could tell these people that listening to music should be my choice and not one made for me.

I feel the same about the pervasive music in coffee houses. I go there for quiet, to work, to read. I wish they wouldn’t feel the need to add their own entertainment. But, at least, in those cases the option of listening is mine.

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Posted by on January 14, 2011 in sound


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