Friday, March 22, 2013

The working life: More of the glamour of travel

I guess I must have the best hearing in the world, a quality that is completely lost on me as I wish everyone would just shut up so I could have some peace and quiet.

For months, I have thought I must be hearing things because it seemed like my computer at work was singing to me. I would be the only one in my section of the office and yet I could hear these faint talking and singing sounds. I thought maybe it had something to do with electricity and magnetic fields or whatever - it's been a long time since I had physics 101, but there is some relationship between electricity and magnetism and right-hand rules. Who knows if sound is involved? It could be.

I am one of the people who hears The Hum. If you hear it, you know. If not, you are lucky.

Then, last week, the sound was louder. I got up - closed my eyes - starting walking to the sound. It was coming from behind me. I walked a few more steps. The sound got louder.

It was from a radio on a co-worker's desk.

The co-worker was not there.

She works part time.

I stood there, looking at the radio, thinking, "You are my gaslight."

Then the co-worker returned. I asked if she would mind turning down her radio. She gasped. "You can hear that? I can hardly hear it!"

I assured her that yes, sadly, I could. "Would you mind turning it off when you're not here?"

I mean, I would have turned it off for her, but it seemed polite to ask.

She said of course and I moved on.

When I was in Elbonia, our first night, late, after we had gone to sleep, I was awakened by distant, bass-heavy music. I put in my earplugs but of course earplugs don't do much for the lower registers. They filter out some of the sound, but if you can feel the sound, it doesn't matter if you can hear it. Earplugs are also completely ineffective against the sharp, irregular cries of an infant on a transatlantic flight.

The next morning, I asked at the front desk what the noise had been. The clerk flipped through the books, then apologized. "There was a wedding here last night."

Well OK, I thought. A one off. Fine.

The next night, I was awakened by music again. I called the front desk. They were confused. Told me they didn't know what it could be but they would send someone up to my floor - the fifth floor - in case it was another guest.

I put in my earplugs, pulled a pillow over my head, and tried to sleep.

The next night, there was music again.

I called. "It is an event," they informed me.

"Then ask them to turn down the music!" I said.

"But it is not loud!" they protested.

"I can hear it. It woke me up. It's loud." I was ticked. "I cannot believe the other guests are not complaining."

"No, madam!" the clerk assured me. "Nobody else has complained."

I truly could not believe it. How could I be the only one who was bothered? 

On Day Four, I walked up to the desk. "Are there any weddings tonight?Any events? Anything that will make noise?"

The clerk flipped through a book, then got on the computer. "No, madam," he smiled. "Nothing."

Late that night. After I was asleep. The noise. I called. "Oh yes, madam," the clerk said. "It is the restaurant."

I seethed. "You mean the restaurant plays loud music every night?"

"Oh no, madam! Only until 2:00 or 3:00!"

I wanted to scream.

"We can be putting you in a different room, madam," he offered.

"I don't want to move to another room!" I hissed. "I want this one to be quiet!" I slammed the phone down. Who wants to move to a different room at 1:30 a.m.?

The next night, by which I mean my last night, I felt like crying as I drifted off to sleep. I knew I would not get to sleep all night long. I knew I would be interrupted. I knew that the next night, I faced a 16-hour flight in coach and that I probably would not be sleeping well. 

All I wanted was to sleep. Undisturbed.

But it was not to be.

The music woke me. I got up, walked into the bathroom. Walked right into the doorframe. Hit my head, with the edge of the frame bisecting my face neatly so I was left with a bruise that ran from the top left side of my head right through the middle of my left eyebrow and then across my left cheekbone.

That did not put me in a better mood.

I called the desk.

"Please ask the restaurant to turn down the music," I asked.

Blah blah blah we'll move you to another room.

No. I did not want to move rooms at 1:30 a.m. I hadn't wanted it the night before. Why would I want it now? And no, it had not really been practical to move during the day as I was at work during the day. Plus I really didn't think I should have to pack everything to move to another room just to get a condition that one should take as a baseline in a hotel room that costs $250 a night before taxes, i.e., quiet.

Incidentally, the place was like a tomb during the day. It was just after midnight that it came alive, not unlike the hospedaje I stayed at in Antigua, Guatemala. I arrived at the bus station in Antigua. Grabbed my backpack, clutched my South American Handbook to me, its pages opened to the "Fs" in Antigua. I found the place. It was quiet. Clean. Not expensive. At two in the afternoon, it was about as sleepy and peaceful as you might dream of.

It wasn't until 10:00 that night, when I was trying to sleep, that I discovered that this hospedaje was next door to a disco that didn't get rocking until late in the evening. And then stayed rocking until the early hours of dawn.

I am totally against the death penalty - I don't like the state deciding who lives and who dies, among other reasons - but I am not against locking someone up and throwing away the key. If I am ever on the jury for the guy who played loud music all night and all day, I'll throw his butt in jail. Accordingly, if I am ever on a jury for the person who shoots the guy whose car alarm went off for hours while the owner was elsewhere, I won't convict. You disturb the peace? You get put away.

When I declined the offer to change rooms at 1:30 a.m., the clerk suggested that perhaps I might like a checkout later than noon the next day. "Why do I not give you a checkout at the hour of six p.m.?" he asked. "Then you can sleep late tomorrow."

I took it but I was cranky. And if I ever stay at that hotel again, I will ask for a room away from the restaurant.


Gaylin said...

We moved offices last summer, I love the new office except for one problem. Really loud AC/Heat venting. Really loud (to me) and continuous. I get home and often I lay down for awhile, in the quiet and just breathe.

Yep, I would have been yelling at people on the phone in the middle of the night as well. For that price, holy cow, turn down the noise!

The landlord of my apartment building put in all new windows last summer - my apartment is even quieter than before, on weekends I have a difficult time getting out of bed in the morning, I will just lay there and 'listen' to the quiet.

And you are right, earplugs, not so helpful.

Anonymous Mother said...

It is also NOT desirable to have a "berth" on an Egytian cruise ship beneath a disco when you and your husband are both suffering from food poisoning . . .

Class factotum said...

Gaylin, I long for quiet. I long for it.

Mom, I will take that advice and will never board a cruise ship!