Quiet-List 1997

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Noise Addiction

> I know that Peter and yourself are convinced of this phenomenon. I am
>not quite there yet.

   My doctor (an ostoepath), who specialize in addiction medicine, likes
to put this question to his patients whom he thinks may be addicts but
won't admit it to themselves: 

   "OK, if you're not addicted, why not give it up for two weeks and 
see how you feel?"

   If the patient looks startled and says "Two whole weeks!  Are you 
kidding? I couldn't take it!", chances are there's an addiction.

   I've noted how upset people get when I ask them to turn off their 
"muzak", or do it myself.  The way they make a fuss over it, you'd 
think you were infringing on some constitutional freedom!  Usually
I only do this if I'm the only customer in the store.  Then they 
can't say "But the *other* people in here like it!".  If I'm their 
only customer then they ought to respect *my* choice.  If the next
person who comes in says "Hey! Where's the muzak?", I can live with 
that.  But, of course, no one will.  And people aren't going to get
up and walk out if they turn it off either.   

   I can better understand the reasoning that it's more for the 
*employees* than the customers.  I know from my own experience that 
music makes boring work more tolerable and seems to make the time 
pass more quickly.  But if they need something to keep from being
bored, they can't be getting much satisfaction from their work, and 
should probably be doing something else.  The *quality* of work from  
such an employee is probably less than what it could be too. 

   A couple of months ago I was working in an office building with a 
small cafeteria which could seat maybe 80 or 100 people altogether, 
although I never saw more than 12 or 15 in there at a time.  The usual 
"ambience" applied: *illegal* re-broadcast of a commercial FM rock 
station, completely inaudible to workers behind the counter, while 
patrons either ignored or tolerated it.  I could see no indication 
that anyone (other than myself) was actually *listening* to it. 

   Once during the six months I was there, it was off altogether.  I 
made a point of praising the manager for having the good sense to 
leave it off once in a while, but he didn't seem to get my point.  
"Oh. We just forgot to turn it on that's all."  Sensing instead that
I was displeased with his choice of stations, he added "We've been 
thinking about putting on Classical once in a while."

   A week or so later the same manager was there and the same station
was playing louder than ever so I pressed him harder.  "Look at those 
people sitting out there." I said, "No one's listening. They're doing 
their best to ignore it!"  He replied, "I really don't care. I *have* 
to have something going on."

David Staudacher - quiet@igc.org 
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