Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Little things irritate me.

This is probably quite an obvious thing to say given the title of my blog. But sometimes I wonder if it's all a bit too irrational. Certain noises, actions, repetitive sounds; some so quiet that it seems only I can hear them, grate on me and regularly drive me to distraction. Sniffing, someone eating with their mouth open, popcorn in the cinema; that's just the tip of the iceberg, really. In reality, it takes a lot less to get the bubble of irrational rage, usually directed at a noise I can't control, started in my chest.

When you're surrounded by family and friends who you can vent your frustration to and say 'Argh, look, can you stop that?', usually the frustration is short lived. But as I travel around the world, meeting more people each day than I would in a month of living in London, these little neuroses of mine have become part of everyday communal living. Cooking occurs in shared kitchens; eating happens around big tables, surrounded by different ages, races, cultures and nationalities. You watch TV in a room that can have anything from one to fifty people in close proximity, then sleep in a dorm occupied by at least three other people (the most I've shared with on this trip is around 25. It was actually the quietest night I've had).

Sleep comes with earplugs jammed as far into my ears as they go. They don't block out the noise, but they stop it waking you up once you're asleep. The common complaint of "I had a snorer last night" will get you untold sympathy from a group of travellers; we've all been there. The snorer that no amount of bed shaking, hand clapping and bed kicking will shut up can make you realise where Eli Roth got the idea from.

But what about when you're watching a film and the girl you've been travelling with sits next to you biting her nails throughout? An almost inaudible noise to the rest of the room, a habitual action to her, but to me, it's like a drum banging. The tack, tack, click click of nail against teeth is all I can hear once I've tuned in. The film becomes secondary to the picking noise in my right ear. Eventually, minutes before the end of the film, my heart beating in frustration, I whisper 'You're not going to have any nails left!' with a slightly forced smile, and the speed at which she stops biting makes me wish I'd said it earlier.

A compulsive texter I can bear to an extent, but rhythmic iPhone tapping, or the click that some people insist on emitting with every touch of the keypad, can catch me off guard. "What the hell is that noise? It's driving me mad" I said to the occupants of my eight bed dorm yesterday morning. The culprit looked up, baffled, and a travel buddy said 'What noise?'. 'The tapping!', I replied, removing the pillow from my head, before feeling utterly ridiculous. No one else could hear it, and if they could, it didn't bother them. There's a gap in the market for a new category of room: boys, girls, mixed and neurotics.

Incredibly, sometimes there doesn't even have to be a noise to set my teeth on edge. Just an action will do it; like the girl who sat next to me on a plane journey peeling her split ends the whole way. I caught her examining every strand of hair, shedding little miniscule strips of it onto her lap. Once I clocked it, the repetitive movement of her hand - an unconscious act like the nail biter - just drove me silently mad. On and off she did it for about two hours, and I had to look to the side, think of something else, anything to stop me asking her to please stop picking at her hair.

Blimey. Never mind my next roommates; I hope the Boyfriend knows what he's letting himself in for.


Anonymous said...

Yesterday my library computer wouldn't accept headphones, and so I was forced to work while listening to everyone else.

I told the guy next to me to turn down his music because I could hear it through his headphones.

I told the girl behind me to turn the volume off on her phone keypad (whoever thought it would be a good idea to make that beep beep beep sound when sending a text??)

I told another guy to mute his laptop when watching Eastenders (in a library?!)

And I gave lots more dirty looks.

Yesterday was a bad library day.

Jane said...

I'm aware this makes me deserving of death stares, and/or possibly actual death, but in your header it says something about Facebook and all it's apps and then how you hate bad grammar, and really there shouldn't be an apostrophe in that its.

I'm sure a thousand people have told you this already but I'm new to your blog. Apologies in advance. I agree with much of your hated things list. I will read the rest of it now.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

As you are well aware, I have a cell phone jammer. I will notify you when the Chinese (the manufacturers of my cell phone jammer) develop one for nail biters. I am hoping for a device that jams vocal cords.

Ellie said...

Let's hope he doesn't have split ends.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Roseski - I'm on that level. I'm past the point of putting up with noises now, but I can't sit in public without earphones a lot of the time. Especially on buses and such. I remember having similar problems at my uni library. Beeps and clicks on mobile phones should be banned.

Jane - Hellooo and welcome. If you read the whole header, presumably you got to the very end where it says 'I am also a hypocrite'. That basically means I'm allowed to do all the stuff I whinge and moan about, including spell things and miss apostrophes, bite my nails, text at all hours and make annoying noises. It's kind of a disclaimer.

Unbearable - I'm onto it. Dragons Den here I come...(ps. NEED a cell phone jammer. Big style)

Ellie - For his sake, so do I.

Anonymous said...

I feel COMPLETELY normal. Thank-you.

OmgCarol said...

You are suffering from misophonia- or soft sound sensitivity syndrome (4S)...yes a very "real" difficulty where you can hear sounds at a frequency other people cannot. It causes most MISO sufferers significant discomfort, not just irritation. Google it!


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