Most hearing people never think about being deaf in terms of what is good about it. But many things are and in a noisy neighbourhood deaf people live more peacefully than many hearing people.
And because many of us deaf people seldom think about noise we are often surprised by how annoying it can be for hearing people.
Recently a group of young people moved into the house behind us and are making a bit of a stir in our neighbourhood. They were quiet for a few months but a couple of weeks ago my hearing husband, John, was woken by loud voices at 2.00am. He got up and looked out the window to see a huge bonfire in the neighbours’ yard with people standing around talking and laughing.
Half an hour later they turned on the loudest car stereo John had ever heard.
By now, John told me the next day, the whole neighbourhood must have been awake and he was considering calling the police.
“I mean,” he said, “come on! Two-thirty in the morning! Who can possibly think it’s ok to start playing Techno music full bore at that time of the morning!”
Around 3.00am all went quiet.
Throughout the disturbance I slept blissfully on. Loud neighbours are no bother to me.
This particular house directly abuts a lot of other houses: it shares its fences with a total of seven houses. So they have a lot of close neighbours to upset.
Last weekend they had another party, although much earlier in the evening. I was washing up when a bright light made me look out the kitchen window. I watched a group of people in the neighbours’ yard and realised they were setting up a bonfire. Ooh, I thought, another bonfire party tonight!
The bonfire wasn’t especially large and, according to John, not particularly loud. However, around ten o’clock he heard arguing. At first he thought there was a fight among the partiers but soon realised it was one of our other neighbours confronting them over the noise. Later he heard an angry woman’s voice calling from a nearby house: “Do you want me to call the police?”
“Call them!” yelled back one of our young neighbours.
While I had a lot of sympathy for the nieghbourhood the first time, last weekend I had a lot for our young neighbours. Kept under control, backyard parties are fun, we’ve had a few ourselves over the years. It was not particularly late on a Friday night, in fact a bit early to be calling the cops. Perhaps the irate neighbours were concerned it was going to be another loud and long night.
Generally our neighbourhood is pretty quiet, but when neighbours are noisy, it can be intensely irritating for John, and presumably others.
A long-time neighbour has a penchant for mowing her lawn in the middle of the day. It’s a big yard and she gets tired so she stops every now and then to have a smoke break and leaves the mower running. It drives John nuts.
Another neighbour has a truck that makes a loud beeping sound when it’s reversed. Almost daily John tells me, “the truck is coming home,” and then, “beep, beep, beep…jeez!”
It must be hard to be a hearing person sometimes. Obviously noisy neighbours don’t bother me and some hearing people seem able to tolerate it, but some people, like John, are sensitive to noise. It really upsets them.
We once had a neighbour who slammed her windows shut whenever John was using power tools in the garage. Her husband reassured us the noise was no problem but it clearly upset her.
I pity these hearing people. I really do. Possibly in a way similar to the way so many hearing people pity us deaf people. I sometimes tell John he would be happier as a deaf person. Of course this isn’t entirely true, especially since he loves music and would miss it immensely, but he would certainly live more peacefully, as I do, in a neighbourhood that is sometimes very noisy.
Whether we are deaf or hearing, life is imperfect. Some things that bother others don’t bother us. Some things we adapt to. Some things we tolerate. Some things drive us nuts. Some things we secretly wish we could do ourselves.
I’m thinking about gate crashing the next bonfire party. I’m sure the young people won’t mind and it’s not as if the sound of irate neighbours is going to bother me while I frolic in the firelight, is it?
Do you know (or are you) a hearing person who would live more peacefully as a deaf person in a noisy neighbourhood?