I am very conscious of the volume of my voice. My vocal chords have always been able to cut through. In kindergarten I was the one who was pointed out as the poster child for not using the “indoor voice.”

Having made my living for years speaking on the radio I have the ability to project my words like projectiles.

I can be pretty loud, if I choose.

I can, upon sufficient provocation, peel paint, scorch wallpaper and blow your hair back.

I don’t very often.

Some of it, no doubt, comes from the radio. You don’t go very far in that business without an ability to get yourself heard. Other parts come from Dad, who was a Marine drill instructor and had the “Command Voice” that could cause you to jump three feet and hover if he chose.

He didn’t use it much either.

On the other hand as I progress in emptying out the hourglass of life I have noticed diminished hearing abilities. For those of you readers just starting out a life of headphones, (earbuds – I betray my age) high decibel rock concerts and NASCAR races I can only say, learn lip reading sooner than later.

It doesn’t worry me too much.

Jimmy Buffet summed it up for me in “He Went To Paris”

Writin’ his memoirs, losing his hearin’. But he don’t care what most people say.

But, in an odd twist of fate I have become more aware of the VOLUME that others speak.

Screech is more like it sometimes.

Even with my less than acute ears it seems that more and more I find the people around me are TALKING WAY TOO LOUD.

Two cases in point.

Yesterday the first church rummage sale of the year occurred. The long-suffering wife and I made it a point to attend.

It was a held in a too small church for the crowd that attended. The entry was through a tiny kitchen and the ladies auxiliary was serving up hoddogs and the like.

One of the ladies was holding forth in a voice that could be used as a weapon of mass destruction. Point her at Moammar Gadhafi and the troubles in Libya would very quickly be over.


“I surrender.”

Her voice could be clearly heard as I made my way through the sales tables and I even could hear her as I fled outside waiting for the long-suffering wife.

I think I heard her as we entered the next town.

And I had the radio on in the car.

Second case.

Lunch was at one of the small cafes that are sprouting up like sprouts all over the place in the Back Mountain.

Most of these places are old houses repurposed for soups and sandwiches and other light fare. They are not large. In fact they are tiny.

The tables are very close together. Under the best of circumstances it’s almost impossible not to hear what the other diners are saying.

These are places where I carefully modulate my former broadcaster dulcet tones.

I keep my voice down and my conversation sweet.

Not so the two college aged “ladies” who lunched near us.

They carried on at a volume that would have been loud in a gymnasium.

About three feet from us, they gossiped, dished and munched at 130 decibels, the threshold of pain at which permanent hearing loss occurs.

I know all about them, now. Far more than I would have cared to.

For instance, I know that one of them has to douche every day.

The first time she shouted this information to her companion I was pretty sure I had heard wrong.

When she repeated it so those who missed it in Binghamton got the message my roast beef sandwich lost its appeal for me.

It’s wrong that I wanted to muzzle her.
Isn’t it?


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About James Rising

A recovering radio addict wrestles with the written word.
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