I’d heard the sound before. . . . sitting in my car at a stop light. It was coming from the car in the next lane. It looked like the young man in the car was listening to his radio, seemingly unaware of the low guttural sound emanating from his vehicle. He was sitting proud and working hard at looking cool.
“Gee Whiz,” I thought. It seemed that if one had the finances to enjoy a very spiffy car, they would see about that noise. It was obviously a sign of something going very wrong; certainly a problem worthy of a professional mechanic.
This weekend, when I was working in my garden, my quiet space where I relax and putter among the plants, I was struck by an inner vibration; one that started in my head, went straight to my rib cage, then down to my toes. It was rhythmic and never ending. It was the sound of that car in the next lane. I tried very hard to ignore it, but it just wasn’t possible. Where was the intrusion coming from? Why wasn’t my quiet time in my garden being respected? After all, I’m a hard working woman. I deserve to go into the privacy of my backyard and enjoy the calm; to communicate with nature and restore my inner self. It’s not asking too much.
Now, just so I don’t sound like a complete moron, I want you to know that I do know about the bass lever on a radio and I do know that teenagers, especially the boys love the “bottom end.” I’m talking music here.
When I’d had enough, I went in search of the noise. I passed my husband who was busy pressure washing the porch. It wasn’t him. I passed by the roar of a lawn mower. It wasn’t that. I followed the movement of the earth and ended up in the driveway of my neighbor; a young man polishing his very beautiful blue car. It was clear that he was enjoying the noise. So, here I was face to face with one of my new neighbors. They’d moved in sometime over the winter. I introduced myself and he shook my hand and told me his name was Marcus. Marcus is a nice looking kid and it was immediately apparent that he’d been taught extraordinary manners.
“It’s nice to meet you, Marcus,” I said in a professional way. I wasn’t about to let his manners get in the way of my inner peace. “Marcus, we need to talk. Your music is making a very odd sound in my backyard. It’s actually worse over there then it is standing here next to it.”
Marcus couldn’t have been more delightful. “No problem,” he said. “I’ll turn it down.”
I felt the need to explain myself. “You know Marcus, I’m old.”
He smiled and repeated himself. “It’s fine, really.”
I thanked him and went back to enjoy the peace of my garden. As I began pulling weeds and rearranging the impatiens, I realized that my new friend had not only turned the music down; he had turned it off completely. I started to feel bad. Marcus had just as much right to enjoy his yard and his home as I did. Surely he could listen to his music and we could find some degree of compromise. I peeked over the side of the fence and said, “Marcus, I really didn’t mean for you to turn it off completely.”
“I know, but it’s okay,” he said. At this point I wanted to go over there and turn the music up so the whole neighborhood could rock to the intrusion of that awful sound. Marcus had won me over.
Now, I like to think of myself as open minded and having tastes of an eclectic nature. I like many kinds of music from classical to country to classic rock and most especially Broadway music. Surely I can find something good about the music Marcus likes. I don’t have to love it. On my quest to appreciate this new sound I found myself thinking about the type of person that stereotypically listens to it. Wait a minute! Admittedly, I don’t know Marcus. We’ve only had one encounter. But I have a good intuition about people and Marcus doesn’t fit the picture in my mind of a kid who listens to that stuff. So, in addition to finding something positive about the sound, I need to work on my attitude. If my mother could do it, so can I. She thought the Beatles were evil, if you can imagine that and don’t ask her about the Rolling Stones.
Marcus started me thinking about something else, too. He took me from an angry woman to a blithering idiot anxious to make him happy and willing to try to enjoy whatever they call that sound. How did he do it? Well, I can tell you. He did it by having good manners and respect. He was, in a nutshell, absolutely adorable and eager to please. I’m sure he was almost done with polishing his car. It looked brand, spanking new. I’m also sure he’s a typical teenager; not always perfect. But man oh man. . . . he taught me a lesson that I needed to relearn. Respect and courtesy are mighty powerful.
So, I’m issuing a formal warning. If you are sitting at a red light and there’s an unusual sound coming from a van with an older woman sitting in the driver’s seat, it’s me! I’m on my way to the music store and I might look into a new sound system, too. I’m officially expanding my horizons.