Improving The Silence

Mar 24, 2016 by

I am not fond of small, cramped spaces.

Let’s first define what “cramped” is not.

“Cramped” in this definition does not refer to being lowered into the ground in a coffin-like structure and then covered with dirt; where your only possessions are a small breathing tube, a cup of water and a screen mesh protecting you from the insects waiting to eat your flesh.

You can only pray they get the ransom together in time.

In that situation, we are beyond “not fond.” We are, to use a psycho-Freudian term, “freaking out.”

I went on a cave exploration/campout once with a bunch of Boy Scouts. We did a lot of crawling on our bellies – the ceilings were quite low in spots. We spent the night in that cave, deep in its recesses.

You don’t know dark until you are deep in a cave. And cramped. And small. And coffinish.

In the morning, we had to crawl our way out. While on my belly the image of astronauts returning to earth and kissing the ground kept going through my mind. I always thought that was for the cameras.

It’s exactly what I did once out of that cave.

Like I said, I’ve slept in a cave. Once.

Anyway, by “cramped” in this definition I refer to being in an airplane, or a bus, train, subway, movie theater – any place with lots of people and little, oh, what’s the technical term … oh yes, wiggle room.

You are competing for a sliver of that two-inch wide armrest or trying to keep your knees from touching your chest. Some people have not bathed … like in forever. Some have bathed … in Eau De What In The Name Of All That Is Holy Is That Smell?

And then, the cell phone rings.

There are three types of people in this situation. The first will look down, hit reject and type a quick “sorry, can’t talk right now” text. These people are known a saints.

The second type will answer, but they have earphones/mouthpieces or at least have the courtesy to speak in a quiet tone. These are known as gentlemen and ladies.

And then the third group. The ones that believe since they are talking to someone far away, they need to speak in a very loud voice. You know, just so the person on the other end can hear them. Oh and you and everyone else too.

They do not understand the concept of “indoor voices.”

You know everything about Aunt Bessie’s ingrown toenail. Grandpa’s gout is not better. Can you believe they drank that much last night? Will those shoes match that outfit. Is that really an insider deal on a stock?

You get my point.

And you are stuck. Bury your head in a book. Try to untangle your earphones. Do anything to drown out that noise. All to no avail.

There is a line from the movie, “The Tale of Despereaux” (the main character is a mouse, but go with me on this one) that says, “a hero doesn’t appear until the world really needs one.”

Enter 63-year-old Dennis Nicholl of Chicago. He does not like cell phones in small, crowded, cramped areas.

So he did something about it. He got hold of an illegal jamming device and for two years while riding the train, would jam cell phone signals, causing people to have to shut up.

He got busted in an undercover police sting. People in Chicago must take their phone time on trains seriously. He’s been charged with unlawful interference with a public utility.

Some however, according to the Christian Science Monitor, called Nicholl a folk hero.

I agree. One of my mottos is, “speak only to improve the silence.”

Until next time.


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