Sunday, May 24, 2009

Neighbours called noise pollution

I have new neighbours (new being a relative term, they're several years old). We're not on the best terms (unlike our old neighbours). Bad blood started boiling from the moment their boorish construction crew began building their house and has done little to abate since then.

Tomorrow, I have an exam, and I really need to study. Here I am, listlessly trying to drag my brain through the joys of Chandrakant P. Shah's Public Health and Preventative Medicine in Canada and my neighbours won't shut up. You see, these folks spend something like eighty percent of their life standing outside their garage (or nearby, I can hear them from their backyard too). They're incredibly loud such that I can hear virtually every word they say as if it was inside my own head. This is compounded by the fact that they have a little boy in that developmental stage where he can't quite speak English and likes to scream a lot, "Oh look, Daddy - RED! WHEEE!!! OOOH!!! YAAAA!!!" Meanwhile, his Dad offers the same obligatory compliments that you might offer your favourite canine, "Good boy! Good job! Do you want to go again, huh, huh?" To top off this noise bonanza, the little boy also owns a little gasoline powered car - it is essentially what would happen if you took a lawnmower and put a chair for a little kid on it... and it sounds just like a freaking lawnmower.

It's a beautiful day out, and leaving my window open so I can feel the brisk spring breeze on my face usually helps my studying quite a lot, but I went off to university for undergrad, and when I came back... it was noisy. I thought that the noise would settle down once the construction was over (which also took years, proceeded very slowly, woke me up early on summer mornings, and was continually on-and-off because apparently the family was bleeding themselves dry of cash here and there). Then the family moved in. Screaming children, motor cars, and screaming children all right outside my window... forever! I respect your childhood, son, but my window was here first. Could you please stop screaming at a volume level that makes me feel like you're inside my flipping bedroom?

In my readings today of our most-beloved Shah, page 290, I found the following:

Noise has been shown to act as a general stressor leading to changes such as increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and vasoconstrition. Noise also induces irritability [hence my rant]. It is not believed to be a direct cause of mental illness but might accelerate and intensify the development of latent mental disorders. The evidence relating noise to mental illness is scanty and much of it is based only on clinical impression. Despite its weaknesses, the evidence points to possible negative effects of community noise on mental health, manifested in the presence of medical drug use, psychiatric symptoms, and mental hospital admission rates.

So after enduring many minutes of child-screaming noise pollution, I decided to go to my window and check out what this kid was doing. I tend to actually avoid my window when my neighbours are outside it (i.e. a lot) because I don't like to make eye contact with them - I mean, staring out your window at your neighbours when they're several metres away is paramount to spying. That's just not polite.

On the driveway was the little boy, and he was trying to ride around on a shiny new two-wheeler bicycle. He was having limited success. He would put his foot on the pedals, allow the wheels to make one revolution, then put his foot down to stop from falling over. In bravery, he decided to try two revolutions (all the while squealing in pleasure), but that led to a genuine fall as his bike came tumbling down and incredibly ear-drum busting screaming ensued. The fall didn't actually look that bad, but I quickly ducked my head back inside the room - I figured if his parents caught me staring they might think I had something to do with it.

He ran inside, still screaming, to his unsupervising parents. I guiltily enjoyed this moment of reprieve from his unfailing childhood lungs. Several minutes later, however, he returned with reinforcements as his parents tried to coach him on the nuances of riding a bicycle.

I think you might want to try some training wheels... in the park. Far far away. Please and thanks.


Tammy said...

Ugh. Children are horrible. Screaming kids are even worse. You should have called the cops. Haha. Okay, maybe that's a bit extreme but still. Maybe invest in earplugs for now, until the parents learn how to control their child?

ps. The contents of Chandrakant's book looks really interesting! I was contemplating on purchasing it until i found out it costs $66!!!! Sigh

a_ndy said...

It's not actually interesting, although I had an inkling you might like it... being a Health Promotion major and all. I'll gladly surrender my copy. :P

Joyce said...

Ouch... I have very low noise tolerance, so I can relate. :x

You really should try out earplugs. :)