New York is a loud city. Sirens, traffic, honking horns – it is called the city that never sleeps because you are constantly surrounded by noise. The only time you really get a ‘quiet’ moment in New York is if you are deeply immersed in Central Park where even then, you often only have 5 minutes at a time of peace to enjoy the perfect park scenery. Someone will come by with loud music, ringing the bell on their bike, or people just walking past wanting to share their conversation with the world. If you are really lucky, someone will sit next to you and want to talk to you!
One thing I haven’t quite worked out yet is if it is a place where people either don’t hear you, or they don’t listen? Yes, I am Australian. However, I do not feel in these scenarios my accent could hinder any aspect of communication. In the past week at three very different eating venues, we had a bit of a food/drink miscommunication.
- I ordered Shrimp, I got Pork.
- I ordered Lamb, I got Chicken.
- I ask for one glass of wine, I got three?
Is it the sounds of the city that distracts us from hearing what other people say? Is it that we are so busy in New York that time is too precious and it is an effort to take in what someone else says. Stopping to actually LISTEN just can’t happen because we have a deadline or are always in a rush. Or is it that we simply don’t care!
If I thought I heard someone ask for Lamb, I know I would confirm that it is Lamb that they want. I have learnt to ensure that I repeat myself – although as per this example, it does not always work:
Me: Can I please have lamb?
Server: You want chicken?
Server: We have chicken wings…
Me: I don’t like chicken
Server: Ok, what would you like?
AND WHAT DO YOU THINK I ENDED UP WITH????? CHICKEN?!?!?!?!?!?
This venue was not loud, there may have been a siren outside at some point – but I have now become immune to this noise, so I cannot actually confirm what the distraction might have been.
New Yorkers are used to tuning out. I think they have to in order to keep their sanity. There are always moments where you don’t really get the choice to tune out though. Some people are just not aware of their own noises and conversations due to the external noise of the city, and in New York all space is everyone’s space. There is no luxury of personal space.
This can also happen inside a movie theater. Really, yes – really! Can you believe once again, a simple night at the movies turned into one of those adventure stories that I always talk about in New York. It started with some indecision on where to sit, and hey, this time I left it up to my friend to choose.
Okay, so we were seeing Poltergeist, and yes I was expecting that throughout the movie there would be some ‘oohs’, ‘aahs’, and perhaps a teeny squeal here and there. And you know what, even some laughter. That was a given!
Well, here in this theater personal space and noise are interlinked just as Seinfeld would describe as the ‘close-talker’. The man in the immediate seat behind my friend felt it necessary to crouch forward, with either knee spread at the edge of the seat in front of him. So close, that you could feel and hear the deep breathing in the back of my friend’s neck. It was an unusual sound, added with intermittent grunts, loud ‘moos’ like a cow, and just heavy and odd sounds where they came from his nose as well as his mouth.
Completely unaware of any other person around him, an intense scene is up there on the big screen. He screams, talks to himself (LOUDLY) and becomes quite animated in his seat getting way too up close and personal with my friend! Oh yes, it added to the fun and humor to my night – for sure! My poor friend, not so much! We are at least still laughing about it.
So the sounds of New York City are plentiful. They are sometimes joyful, sometimes annoying, but most of all they make for a story to tell and put adventure in your life every day!