This lovely Saturday morning somewhere around 9am, I was woken up in a shock. My neighbor started working the garden. He needed to finish cutting a tree with his chainsaw. You know, what I mean? Here is a sound sample of the machine he used this morning for the first 15 minutes of his garden work. Only 15 minutes. And only in the very beginning of his garden work – so the rest of the day, it was only the lawn mower (listen here), the side mower (listen here), and the blower (listen here) that were being used. Only. So what am I to complain about?
Let me explain you why I was not really ready to share my neighbor’s garden work passion, this morning.
It had been a heavy working week last week. So, yesterday evening, I went to bed a little bit earlier, after having looked at the first episode of Versailles’s third season. Although it is a great series that usually gets me pinned at the TV screen, by the end, my eyes started to close themselves seemingly automatically. I dragged me up the stairs into bed. It took me only a few seconds to fall asleep – I did not measure the timing though. My last thoughts might have been that I was looking forward to a loooong sleep. I had checked my daughters calendar earlier yesterday, so I knew there were no dad’s obligations on Saturday morning. Yes. Nite-nite.
And then, this morning around 9am, I heard a distinct sound I would describe as ‘cret-cret-cret’, ‘cret-cret’, ‘cret-cret-cret-cret’ and then ‘BRAAAAAAAA’ (check the link above for a sound version of this phonetic description). I ran to the windows. Closed them with a heavy ‘BANG’, hoping the neighbor would hear it and feel embarrassed. He did neither. ‘BRAAAAAA’ it went. I tried to put my head under the pillow. ‘BRAAAAAAA’. I stepped out of bed again. Checked the middle window. Was closed indeed. ‘BRAAAAAAAA’. Turned and turned. ‘BRAAAAAAAA’. I became so angry because I never bought a gun to shoot the neighbor down (although I would already be happy to be able to ‘shut’ the neighbor down). Wanted to call ISIS for an islamic terrorist attack in Godveerdegem (no joke – that’s where I live). ‘BRAAAAAAA’. Suddenly remembered my oldest daughter’s exam on Monday. Thinking about potential future remarks about daddy’s not so quiet place to study after all. ‘BRAAAAAAA’. Jumped out of bed again. Into the shower. ‘BRAAAAAAA’. The sound easily went through two layers of isolated glass and into the shower cabin. ‘BRAAAAAA’. Stumbled into my clothes. Tumbled down the stairs. ‘BRAAAAAAAA’. Ready to bring my daughter to my work place to allow her to continue her study – just like some weeks ago, when the neighbor was showing off his new house to some friends of his. ‘BRAAAAAAAAA’.
- Honey, if you like, I get you to the office.
- Oh no. Daddy. Whit this hair? <- add a ‘wtf’ visage here, in order to get the full picture
- Take a shower?
- Out. Out. I am trying to concentrate.
Luckily the machine stopped some minutes later. Time for a coffee. My nerves were still ‘high’. So I forgot to take the fruit salad and yoghourt out of the fridge. Forgot? I did not even get down the basement. I had entirely lost my concentration. I was not even sure what I was going to do this morning. People that are insensitive to sound and noise, do not know what they do to others, when they switch on their toy machine. It took me some hours to cool down, and for the rest of the Saturday, I was set into alarm mode, susceptible to every little sound or signal that the machine was going to be switched on again.
Around 11am, I decided to do some shopping. Took the car out. Heard the lawn mower of another neighbor switch on, just before I closed the door. Inside the car, sounds are muted to a level they have less impact on my stress level. I passed some houses. Saw a man with ear phones start a side mower. Poor neighbors. I always wonder why people have to put on ear phones to do their garden works. Those machines have much less power than a car, and yet no politician seems to dare to set a sound norm. Even for the garden hobbyist, such a sound reduction would be a blessing. But again, inside the car the mower did not impress me the same way as my neighbor’s chainsaw this morning.
Arrived at the shopping centre some minutes later. It had surprised me there were so many cars on the road on a Saturday morning. I admit, mine was on the road too, so who am I to blame others. Everyone seemed to be nervously driving and running about. Chaotically. Impatiently. It seemed there was a lot of home work to do in Zottegem. My sound nerves were still set to on, so I realized all these cars were making a steady and solid noise on the N42. I live a bit further away from the main roads, and yet also on the Flemish countryside, the sound of the main roads is often present, depending on the wind direction and atmospheric circumstances.
For some reason these thoughts were in my head, when I entered the DIY shop. I immediately noticed the music was on. Rock. I like it. But not that loud. The music was very present. Deliberately or not? Could it be thought to stimulate shopping? I do not know, but it did not help me to shop more. The music did not put me at ease, and I decided to only take three LED lamps, and leave asap. Those lamps did not require me to think. I knew what brand I needed, I knew where they were in the shop, I had measured the old lamp (from the floor to my nipples – no exact measures needed), so I took them, did not wander around, did not buy any of the promotions that were scattered around the shop. I went to the cash out desk and left. Outside, the other cars that were leaving the parking, made me realize the amount of sound that is around us all the time. Sound is everywhere and it permanently stimulates our brain, often without us noticing.
That’s when I decided to do something. That’s when and why I created this diary. To get my thoughts on e-paper. Put it down in writing and take the negative energy out of my head. And, share my thoughts with others. To show others they are not alone with their sorrows. To show noise makers what a negative impact they have on their surroundings. To inspire people who want do something about it.