For the most part, I'm a fairly easy going individual. With few exceptions, it takes quite a bit for something to get under my skin, so to speak.
However, I've just about had it with an issue that has not only honked me off, but it had my neighbors up in arms as well. The problem involves music, in particular, other people's music.
Let me explain.
As I've mentioned a few times over the past couple of years, I tend to enjoy my fair share of gardening. Although I struggle to kill the weeds and allow the grass and flowers to blossom, it gives me a break from the stress of work and the myriad of issues affecting my family.
However, there's just one thing that keeps me from enjoying that endeavor -- the volume that people seem to think they need to play their music as they roll past my house.
But it's not their choice of music that annoys me. The problem is there are too many people out there with the music blaring so loud that I honestly think it could drown out an F-15 Strike Eagle on full afterburner.
And it's not one person just once a day. It's a constant barrage of car and truck radios blasting what I'm assuming is music (when it's that loud, it's hard to make out what's playing).
This audio assault isn't limited to the times I'm outside. Even when I'm in my house trying to watch TV in the den, there are those out there that seem to think I still want to listen to their tunes instead.
It gets worse when people have their speakers set up with that extra loud bass that heralds the vehicle's arrival a quarter mile before it actually passes by. That constant "boom, boom, boom" gets so bad that I've had instances that it causes the windows in my laundry room to rattle -- on the opposite side of my house.
The idea of leaving my bedroom window open during the summer for some fresh air while I sleep is completely out of the question since people seem to think I need to listen to their tunes instead. It's even worse for my one daughter, who suffers from tinnitus, because the excessive volume only makes her condition worse.
Listen, buddy. If I wanted to hear your choice in music, I'd go out and buy the album.
Granted, I have a very eclectic taste in music with a particular fondness for music from the 1950s to the late 1980s. My collection includes everything from Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced" to Weird Al's "Straight Outta Lynwood."
I've been known to listen to Little Richard one minute and swap it out for Van Halen the next. It all depends on my mood and if I need something to wake me up or help me mellow out after a tough day at work.
At the same time, I've also enjoyed a few instances in my life where I wanted my music to reach out and literally punch me in the gut. The last time that happened was in July when I got to stand front row center during a concert featuring Justin Aldean. It took about 30 minutes for the ringing in my ears to go away, but the idea I was less than six feet away from one of country music's superstars was pretty cool.
But I don't want to have the equivalent of a Black Sabbath concert constantly rolling past my house. I think I've earned a respite from the last vestiges of my youth.
Yes, you have a Constitutional right to freely express yourself within reason. But I'd contend that I have an equally protected right to not hear your music if I don't want to.
It was once said that a person's rights end at the tip of their nose. From my perspective, that also means that your rights end at the tips of my ears. If I can hear it, especially when it's so loud that I can't hear what my family is trying to tell to me as we're inside eating dinner, then your music is way too loud.
I'm pretty sure you wouldn't appreciate if I drove by your house at all hours blaring the "Best of Barry Manilow." I could be really evil by driving by playing endless renditions of Debbie Boone's "You Light Up Me Life," but the copy I had of that record was accidentally destroyed maliciously. Consider yourselves lucky.
And don't get me started on the folks out there that think that it was a "good idea" to install those extra loud exhaust systems on their cars and trucks. I don't understand why someone would willingly attach what sounds like a $5 bargain basement exhaust on a $35,000 vehicle.
I'd hate to think there are people in this town saying to one another, "Hey, I have a great idea. Let's honk off everyone in this town by being a bunch of inconsiderate jerks and drive down the street making as much noise as possible."
But from my perspective, that's exactly what's happening. A few people out there seem to think they have the right to express themselves at everyone else's expense.
Here's the bottom line: The city has laws on the books that prohibit this type of extra-loud music or exhaust noise.
During the day, the maximum noise level is limited to 80 decibels. Putting that into perspective, that's the equivalent noise produced by a garbage disposal or dishwasher. Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 8 a.m., that maximum noise level drops by 15 decibels, which is what you would hear from an air conditioning unit roughly 100 feet away.
Oh, and getting a ticket for disturbing the peace in this fashion isn't a simple traffic ticket. It's actually a misdemeanor, meaning that you can get slapped with a fine and probably a lot more. You have been warned.
Granted, if all of this extra-loud music caused the weeds in my yard to curl up and die, I'd probably be willing to put up with the inconvenience. However, it doesn't, so turn down your tunes or at least roll up your car's windows. Otherwise, I may dust off my Barry Manilow collection and take a cruise through town with "Copacabana" blasting away.
Well, maybe not.
-- Brian S. Orban