I’ve never known a single person who wasn’t afraid to shout their big little annoyances from the tops of every metaphorical rooftop. Some cringe at the sound of nails on a sleek black chalkboard. Some people wince at the sound of others’ grinding their teeth.
It’s those small – yet, for some, quite big – annoyances that seem to torture its victims until said victims are at the breaking point – at their wit’s end.
Not to brag too much, but I’ve never had that sort of trouble plague me. And as such, I could never quite understand (not to mention sympathize with) those who were climbing the walls from that pesky torture. Maybe it always had something to do with my remarkable ability to swiftly tune out excess noise or any other noise that wasn’t pleasant-sounding to my little ears.
“Why don’t they just ignore it?” I thought. “It’s really not that hard to simply tune it out.”
And then, probably as the result of some sort of Karmic retribution, Chirpy came to town. My town, actually. My house, to be more specific. Chirpy sounds like a cute name, doesn’t it? Like a little cricket that burrows itself behind a desk or underneath a bed, seeking refuge.
The only problem? This was no cute little cricket. The Chirpy I speak of proved far more cunning and sinister than an innocent little insect.
So who exactly is Chirpy? And what’s more, why did I ever let him have such power over me? Couldn’t I just have taken my own advice and “tuned it out”?
MORE JUICE AFTER THE JUMP…
I was enjoying the lackadaisical days of my spring break (one of the many perks of working for a community college). I spent my days reading magazines and catching up on my 98 hours of DVRed shows I hadn’t had time to watch during the hustle and bustle of the work weeks. I was even enjoying sleep late – until 8 a.m. (remember, I usually rise promptly at 6 a.m., so two extra hours of sleep was quite the luxury for me that week).
Everything was going as planned. Maybe even a little better than I ever could have imagined, too. And then I was rudely roused from my warm bed chambers at 6:15 a.m. on that fateful Thursday morning. It started out as a prolonged “Beeeeeep” emanating from the depths of our smoke detectors. I layed there for a moment, partially thinking – hoping against all hope – that I was merely dreaming of a cute fireman (which I have been known to do once or twice).
It wasn’t a dream, and over the rest of the day, things quickly turned into a nightmare. More gruesome than Jaws. More heart-pounding than Gremlins.
No, luckily, there wasn’t any sort of fire blazing through our house; it was a simple problem. The batteries were low. So like any good homeowners, we changed them. Once. Twice.
“Chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp.”
We eventually deduced that it was not the batteries that were defective – it was the smoke detector unit. Yes, all four detectors in our house needed to be replaced if we ever wanted that little chirping noise to silence. Simple enough. An electrician would arrive at 3 p.m. to save us.
Now, this would have been all well and good if not for one slight problem: I was home all day. With the chirping. From all four detectors. Every 30 seconds to a minute. For 7 straight hours.
“It taunts me,” I couldn’t help but think.
Wait. It doesn’t sound so bad, does it? What’s a little chirp (did I mention that all four detectors were connected, so the chirping would rotate from one to the other, sort of like a chirping musical chairs?).
I consider myself a very sane, very rational, very strong person. But that chirping? It changed me that day. I was pushed to dangerous lengths to try to soothe my mind. I popped an Advil at lunch to soothe my ever-growing headache. I bought a plethora of country songs (eek!) on itunes in an attempt to drown out the painful noise. I even extended my daily two-hour TV-watching schedule to a full-fledged marathon of four hours.
And yet still, I couldn’t find any relief or solace. Chirpy was always there, front and center, like an itch you just can’t scratch away – another one of those pesky annoyances, which, I was obviously learning that day, are so little and indeed far worse than the word “pesky” implies.
Then, I finally heard the chirp I’d been waiting for: the ringing of the doorbell. Our savior – the electrician – had come to right my world. Thirty minutes later, I just sat in the kitchen letting the quiet sounds of silence rush over me.
The sound of nothingness was a beautiful sound indeed.