Noise Pollution

I wasn’t sure what I expected when I moved to New York, except the noise.

Everyone expects the noise, but it’s never what you think it will be. Maybe in my head is was some round-about disc jockey detailing sirens, students rallying in the streets and the gunshots of drug dealers.

But that wasn’t the real noise. Mostly, I notice, it’s the haul of trucks and buses riddled with that quick stabs cab drivers make when they smack their horn out of frustration. Men grunt into their cell phones and women sing into theirs, about job interviews and blood tests and how much weight or sex or money has been gained and lost. Tiny whispers of music spill out of identical pairs of white, plastic ear buds. Expert sets of high heels click-click around broken concrete. Blackberry vibrations buzz under arthritic thumbs. If you listen carefully, you can hear the smooth fold of someone dog-earing their beat-up copy of last week’s New Yorker and tugging it back into their bag. If it’s not their magazine it’s something else: rumpled paperbacks, NYU leaflets or Our Lord Savior Holy Jesus pamphlets.

A black boy walks by smacking the top of his head in a vain attempt to scratch under his thick, knit braids.

They say when you get to New York you hear all different languages but I don’t think any real New Yorker believes this, at least not in midtown. Here, the tourists walk slow in big, wide-eyed clusters while the brisk assistants of CEOs and VPs and Associate Directors brush past the herds with trays of hot Starbucks with skim. They are thin things—sharp and pointy and taunt for now like a fresh blank canvas.

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3 responses to “Noise Pollution

  1. Your descriptions of sound are so apt. But you should have spent a summer in Soho…that’s where all the tourists flock in the summer, bringing their various languages too.

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