June 19, 2003

A Close Encounter of the Loud Kind

While Steve was cleaning up after a night of teen debauchery, I suddenly found myself walking quickly through my own nest of broken eggshells. This morning, on my commute to work a young man got on the train, his Walkman blasting louder than I’d ever heard one blast before. I hate it when I can hear nothing but the rat, tat, tat of the bass. The volume was blaring. My inclination in these cases is to say something. But, of course, I never do.

He moved to the middle of the car, yet the sound continued to surround me. I looked his way in wonderment. While he was facing in the opposite direction, he suddenly turned and looked right at me. I suppose my thoughts were too loud. Without thinking, I mouthed the words “too loud” and touched my finger to my ear.

Immediately, I recoiled at my own actions. Why the hell was I actually trying to engage this guy? It was foolhardy at best. I was with my five year old, taking her to school. An altercation was the last thing I needed.

He mouthed something back but I immediately looked away without struggling to figure it out. I knew I had walked over a line and I wanted to return to anonymity as soon as I could. Only after we’d transferred to another train did my daughter say “He said ‘I don’t care.’”

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