Escaping Annoying People
3 Things that stress me out:
Standing too close to annoying people on hot days.
I love the above quote…but to better fit a situation I encountered/endured recently, I would change it to…
3 things that stress me out:
#1. Annoying people.
#2. Annoying people sitting behind me on a packed plane.
#3. Annoying people sitting behind me on a packed plane…and I don’t have any earplugs with me.Generally speaking, I can handle a decent amount of stress in life...but noise pollution, especially of the human variety, can push my stress-o-meter buttons like nobody's business. Click To Tweet
And speaking of nobody’s business and human noise pollution, I (and my fellow passengers) had the bad luck to be seated in close proximity to a Very Loud & Annoying Woman on the plane the other day.
Thankfully, it was only a two-hour flight. But two hours can feel like twenty-two hours…if an annoying person Does Not Shut Up. As perhaps you can guess, the Very Loud & Annoying Woman did not shut up. This meant that her business became our business…whether we wanted to hear about it or not.
I certainly didn’t…but if you have any questions as to what it’s like to have one’s own notary public business in small town Alberta, I might be able to (now) answer them.
But it wasn’t just the (mandatory) small business lesson that made this woman annoying. It was also the volume at which she shared her work challenges, upcoming weekend plans, marital situation, detailed description & recent activities of her dog, the age difference in her kids…and, naturally, her political opinions.
And coming from me, this says something. I am a Loud Talker myself…so I really try to keep my voice down when in close quarters with strangers…such as an airplane.
Not so with the Very Loud & Annoying Woman. For in addition to the volume, there was also the quality of the aforementioned content. A small business lesson is one thing…annoying but tolerable. Having to listen to her opinions on politics, immigration policies, and what is wrong with people in the world today (!), not so tolerable.
And this was all before the plane took-off (she even talked right through, at full volume, the flight attendant’s entire safety presentation).
And I had my earplugs in.
So did the woman across the aisle from me. In fact, we sort of bonded over the wearing of our earplugs in an attempt to block out the Very Loud & Annoying Woman. Or rather, we would have bonded over the wearing of our earplugs…IF they had been an effective barrier to the human noise pollution.
Alas, they were not. Which is why, when the plane was finally in the air and the seat belt sign was (mercifully) turned off, I leapt out of my seat, opened the overhead compartment and reached into my backpack to retrieve My Big Headphones.
Then I sat down again, fished my phone out of my purse and was about to plug my headphones into my phone…which is when I glanced over at the woman across the aisle to see how she was faring.
Not good. I felt like I just got caught with my hand in the cookie jar.
The look she gave me – when she realized what I had, in terms of ear protection, and she didn’t – was part envy and part betrayal. I got to escape the human noise pollution…and she couldn’t. Thankfully, she was a good sport about it.
Because by this point, it was clear that the Very Loud & Annoying Woman was just getting going…much like the airplane we were in. It was almost as if the more she heard herself talk, the more she felt she needed to say. Maybe since nobody had told her SHUT UP, she took that as a sign that everyone within a ten foot radius was enjoying her diatribe?
Or perhaps she just had zero self-awareness?
With a tinge of guilt for leaving the woman across the aisle (and everyone else within that ten foot radius) to her own devices (or lack there of, as the case may be), I proceeded to Save Myself From the Sound. I turned on the music on my phone…and let out a deep sigh of gratitude that I did not have to listen one second longer to You Know Who.
And wouldn’t you know it…but the very first song that came on shuffle was “Wild Thing” by The Groggs. And as I listened to the song – more to escape The Loud Talker than to enjoy the music, truth be told – the entire opening scene of the screenplay I had been working on just…came through, Just like that. It was crystal clear in my imagination!
I opened my eyes, grabbed my notebook and started jotting down notes.
Thank you, Annoying Lady on Plane! If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have been listening to my music at that exact moment…so I may not have had that insight.
And there you have it…sometimes we do have to deal with loud & annoying people. Sometimes we just have to suck it up and listen. Sometimes we have to speak up and politely tell them to put a sock in it (which is what I wish I’d done when the woman talked right through the safety presentation).
And sometimes, we get to escape the human noise pollution…and low & behold, we may even find a nice gift waiting for us in that escape 🙂
How about you?
Have you ever had to listen to someone in public who just won’t shut up? What did you do?
Maryanne Pope is the author of “A Widow’s Awakening.” She also writes screenplays, playscripts and blogs. She is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and a co-founder of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To receive Maryanne’s blog, “Weekly Words of Wisdom,” please subscribe here.