I can be quite snippy when I’m right, although I sometimes hesitate to tell others to correct their behavior. But when I do speak up, it’s because I’m right.
To the people leaving door-hanger ads in my neighborhood: “If you put those there, it looks like I’m not home because I come in through the garage.”
To the folks who fill the Dumpster with moving boxes: “You’re supposed to break those down.”
To the kids on Manitou Incline: “Your music is loud and annoying.”
Let me explain that one.
I climbed the Manitou Incline recently — 2,000 feet of elevation gain straight up for three-quarters of a mile. The day was hot, dry, clear, dusty, exhausting, and exhilarating. I was delighted with my strength as both the sun and I crept higher, and I relished the different vistas the Manitou Incline was revealing step by 2,200 steps.
Then I heard it — an ill-mannered backbeat not prudently and appropriately contained in headphones, but booming impudently from the pack of a college-student-looking girl climbing past me. Clearly the cacophony was for the questionable benefit of her three companions, and also, I was sure, an obvious violation of the nature code on the trail.
I grumbled about inconsiderate these people to my hiking partner, who tried to talk me down, but I charged up to the obnoxious group that had paused above us.
“I’m not usually one who tells others what to do,” I began sanctimoniously. “But your music is seriously interfering with my experience here.” I waved my hand around to illustrate just what experience they were interfering with.
“It’s really loud. And it’s annoying. If I had ear buds on me right now, I’d give them to you. All of you.”
Their expressions went from apathetic to incredulous. The guy in the group retorted as people do when confronted with an unconceivable situation from a stranger, “Oh, yeah? Well maybe you should wear headphones.”
“I’m not listening to music.” I pointed out the obvious.
“So, have you ever heard of noise-cancelling headphones?” His question was a self-righteous challenge that heated me up even more. Their music, though, had faded, so I stomped on up the steps, shaking my head the way people do when disgusted.
Later, I wished I’d had the presence of mind to deliver this snappy comeback, “So I can cancel out the noise from the sun?” That would have shut him down right proper.
Sometimes I do regret being snippy and then I feel bad about speaking up. The door-hanger people are only trying to make a living. The boxes-in-the-Dumpster neighbors are most likely exhausted from the move. I probably make others feel bad too. At least that’s what I assume from ducked heads and a mumbled “Sorry.” I remind myself again and again to just live and let live.
But … music on a hiking trail? A discordant din blaring from a backpack on the Manitou Incline? Such serious noise in nature?
Granted, I’ve second-guessed myself about this situation, too, because I know I felt bad afterward, and it’s possible that they did too.
But this time, I’m right … right?
Andrea Doray is a writer who’s glad other drivers can’t hear her when is correcting their behavior. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org