About once a week, I “work from home,” which really means that Sometimes from a cafe near my apartment. It’s a pleasantly balanced crowd – the other young professionals tapping on their own laptops provide an “office away from the office” feel, however the parents with strollers and groups gathered around tables remind me I’m inside a public space. I get my best work done with a nondescript hum in the background, hence why I rarely work from my actual home in my pajamas. It’s easy – no, ideal – for me to block out low volumes of noise in order to concentrate on my work. ?Actually, I personally pay attention to a coffee shop sounds “white noise” audio on loop when I’m at The Frisky’s office.
So it was with great annoyance that a week ago I had the misfortune to sit next to a lady at my cafe?WHO TALKED REALLY LOUD Such as this BECAUSE SHE HAD NO SELF-AWARENESS ABOUT THE SOUND OF HER VOICE.
This woman was sitting having a friend. The sound level of conversation began normally enough – that is to say, these were sitting in a table close to me but I wasn’t availed of each and every back-and-forth in their conversation. Over the course of their chatting, among the women grew animated began talking louder – and louder – and LOUDER. Literally, it had been nearly as if she was gleefully?yelling her half of the conversation to her friend. She was not at all?using an inside voice; she was utilizing an I-think-personal-spaces-are-my-own-jungle-gym voice. I could hear her yell-talking through my earbuds and did not seem like blaring Katy Perry for God knows how long in order to drown her yell-talking out.
I instant messaged Kale, because we’re assholes taking up two different tables when we visit a cafe together.
“This woman is so fucking loud,” I typed.
“Yeah,” he agreed, from the few tables away. “It’s annoying.”
“Would it be awkward to inquire about her to reduce her voice?”
“Yeah,” he typed back. “I think you just have to endure it.”
But Kale, it should be noted, is among the most politest, manners-liest person there has ever been. He’d literally bend over backwards not to confront someone over an unpleasant matter, especially an absolute stranger. It must be a British Empire thing. Me, I’ve no such sentiment. I find people WHO TALK REALLY LOUD Such as this BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO SELF-AWARENESS Concerning the SOUND OF THEIR VOICE profoundly annoying. Maybe it is from residing in New York City for the better part of 13 years, however i don’t mind being assertive with an absolute stranger. In my experience, anyone who is violating the social code of “inside voices” is justified to get a polite reminder that, yup, you’re still inside. And, actually, once while out in a restaurant with my garrulous aunt – who, such as this cafe woman, has a tendency to talk louder and louder when she’s animated – a table of women sitting alongside us actually politely and respectfully interrupted our conversation to inquire about her to lower her voice. My sister said, “Oh, I’m sorry!” and then lowered her voice immediately. Everyone returned to enjoying their Indian food. It was awkward, sure, however i mostly felt embarrassed these women alongside us have been uncomfortable. (I guess which i didn’t realize my aunt’s voice had gotten so loud because I’m just used to that particular to be the way she talks.)
So this specific day, I politely – emphasis on politely – asked the loud woman next to me at the cafe to quiet down. “Excuse me?” I said, turning to her and her friend, smiling. “Would you mind cutting your voice just a little? I’m discovering it difficult to work.”
You must have seen the stinkeye that woman provided. She rolled her eyes at her friend, scrunched up her face and turned away from me with no response. It had been profoundly childish and rude. Suddenly I understood that this woman didn’t appear to have any manners, period. (Kale also saw the stinkeye from his vantage point and IMed “HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.”)
But, hey, at least she lowered her voice after that. The yell-talking stopped. Their conversation continued at the totally normal volume they were speaking at beforehand.
Fast forward to another coffee shop, another week. This time around I had been using a number of co-workers. While many of us were typing and editing, we were also chatting amongst ourselves. Animatedly, I guess. It is possible that people appeared to be disruptive – although more from laughing than from any kind of indoor yelling. (I was, after all, working.) Alas, a woman sitting in a table diagonally across from us, working by hand on her laptop, suddenly burst out a “SHHHHHHHHHH!”, which was clearly fond of us and our fun.
She didn’t even make eye contact; she just shushed us like we were rowdy teenagers in a library. All of us grown adults checked out each other with initial bemusement, then trying to stifle laughter. Did we simply get shushed with a grown woman? I am not disagreeing that people hadn’t been too noisy, or that people hadn’t been annoying her. ?And clearly, given my own experience, I’m sympathetic to the fact that she required to concentrate. There is however something so impersonal, something so ungracious, about shushing other adults. It isn’t like i was anonymous voices talking aloud in a cinema, where I’m sure it’s justifiable to train on a robust shush.??I was sitting just feet away from her! ?None of us might have given her the stinkeye had she politely asked us to reduce our voices. Much like my sister, we would have apologized and acted accordingly.
Grownups should have the skills to politely communicate with other grownups, even if it is awkward. ?You will find exactly two situations when it’s okay for an adult to shush another adult: one is when you’re in a theater watching a movie or performance along with a stranger answers their mobile phone and also the other happens when you’re attempting to hear something important around the radio or TV – a jury verdict; a snow day cancellation; lottery numbers – and someone is blabbing away in regards to a weird mole on their own arm. Apart from those two extenuating circumstances, you have to address adults with respect even if you’re annoyed their way. I regularly wring my hands over the decay of basic manners – can people stop?shoving?people on public transportation,?please? – but this is much more just like a meta-manners scenario. There’s grace to become learned in how to manage another person’s less-than-mannerly behavior. One rude turn does not deserve another.
It now appears like working in my office, or even better, a library, with my “coffee shop white noise” audio may be the path of least resistance. And i’m reminded again, within our supposedly “social” age, how little social skills some people actually possess.