Inside Voices Please

Recently I had my hearing tested, because I wasn’t able to hear what my dining companion was saying across the table in restaurants. The raucous sounds around me were drowning out our conversation. My companion could always read my lips, but I’m not able to do that. I went to the audiologist and described my misunderstanding of consonants. But in normal situations, I could hear everything else quite well. I scored 100% on the words spoken in my headset, but I missed 30% of the high register tones sent to my brain by some weird-looking gadget which touched2 places on my head. Apparently, it’s this 30% of high frequency sound that makes up the sound of consonants. The ENT, on seeing the report, suggested that if I weren’t blind, I’d be on the border line of needing a hearing aid, but since I couldn’t see expressions or read lips, I should give them a try.

I did try them for over a week and returned them after experiencing almost painful amplification of the sounds around me. The world is already full of noise. I knew that, but having it amplified, even with the sophisticated technology of these highly rated hearing aids, it was driving me nuts. Upon wearing them home and then taking Dora out to play in the back yard through the garage, it sounded to me like she had tap shoes on. I was bewildered until I realized it was just her toenails on the concrete garage floor. I concluded that I could do without that 30% of the highest register of sounds. I could hear birds very clearly, probably more clearly than anybody, because I pay attention to them. So what if I missed a word now and then? But the problem is not that the words around me are too soft. Just the opposite.

Everywhere I go, I hear people shouting to one another, when they are standing 2 feet apart. When I’m in a room with bare walls, such as a locker-room, a stairwell, or restroom, the sound is deafening. When I’m in a restaurant, the noise of the table near me, where people are vying for center stage in the conversation it’s not only annoying but also impossible for my tablemates to hear one another. It’s not just me. I’ve been with a group of friends who have turned right around and walked out of a restaurant, because the voices were so loud. Haven’t these people ever heard of using their inside voices when they are inside? Do they all have to project like 3-year-olds whose natural and constant volume is loud?

when I’m in my back yard, I can hear the conversations of my neighbors on their patios 4 houses away. I concede that they are indeed outside, so they might be justified in using their outside voices, but the people they are speaking to are just a few feet away. I guess party equals alcohol equals turn up the volume of everything. Maybe I should get hearing aids after all and turn down the volume on the world.


1 thought on “Inside Voices Please

  1. It seems lately that all we hear are “outside voices” in restaurants, public spaces and even our own back yards.

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