Small Talk

The not so sounds of silence

Gentlemen, stop your motors. Take a walk on the beach, read a newspaper or at least go down to the coffee shop and spend an hour or two relaxing.
Perhaps I have become more aware of one particular societal faux pas, because my husband is the biggest offender. It seems to me that the world is now filled with screaming band saws and general construction noise. First we got to listen to three consecutive neighbors have new roofs put on. The hammering, hammering, hammering all day long was annoying, but one does need to keep one’s roof in repair.
But the minute the world warmed up enough to open windows, some signal, unheard by most women, seemed to sound. It was apparently telling anyone with enough testosterone to drag out every electric tool they owned and fire them up. My ears are still ringing.

It’s clear that the sound I loathe most, even above and beyond leaf blowers, is the electric saw. But that is not the main issue. It’s summertime and some people can actually take time off. Besides, we live in a vacation town. Sleeping in and napping are among the top reasons people go on vacation. I submit I shouldn’t have to head for a Ritz-Carlton to enjoy some peace and quiet.

Once retired, my spouse thought nothing of firing up the saw at 8 a.m. That is just wrong. 9 a.m. is equally wrong. 10 a.m. is the earliest this becomes semi-acceptable. And then, please desist between 3 p.m. and forever, because people are outside barbecuing, trying to enjoy a pleasant summer evening. The screeching whine of saw or sander hitting wood is better than flashing red lights to kill a party mood, week day or weekend.

You say the weekend is the only time said hobbyist has time to work on the project du jour? Well, please consider taking it in into the garage or perhaps rent a workshop. The sound of 110 decibels or more of power tools is more horrible than someone cranking up their favorite opera or rap star to that level, and who would stand for that at 8 a.m.?

Yes, we chose to let developers build homes backbone to bellybutton, and we chose to live in them. But that, I submit, means that in those places especially, some extra consideration is required. The sound of children playing? Lovely. The sound of the occasional dog barking? Acceptable. Your neighbor on their cell phone? Tiresome but manageable.

I submit the wisdom of Aristotle and his Golden Mean, or the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Moderation in all things.” Or perhaps my mother,“How about some common courtesy?”

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer looking for a saw-free zone. Contact her at

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