Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Your own beeswax

I was on the train just now, doing a close reading of Celine's Voyage au bout de la nuit to the sound of Israeli hip-hop. I'd just gotten on the train from outside, and so had not adjusted the volume to the lower, subway-appropriate level. The woman sitting next to me, in the midst of studying something about Federal Law from one of those large law school books, started speaking to me. I removed a headphone, and she began telling me that a study in the UK has shown that iPod headphones do not work very well. At which point I was thinking, do I care? At which point she continued, telling me that this British study showed that the likes of me will be deaf in two years. I asked her if the volume of my headphones was bothering her. No, it wasn't, she's just worried about my hearing. I asked her how she's enjoying law school, and upon hearing that she's having a good time, returned the headphones, then moved my seat.

The libertarian impulse in me says that if the volume bothers her, she can make a fuss, but that, as a complete and utter stranger, she'd be best off letting me be if it does not. And the librarian impulse in me says that if she wants to read her law book in complete silence, she'd better try somewhere other than the MTA. How was she to know that my day began reading about Vichy and the Holocaust at an ungodly hour in the morning and only just ended, nearly 12 hours later, with a discussion of how (alas!) American hegemony may not last. Gar! You know? And, by intruding on what had been a rather relaxing moment of bizarrely-juxtaposed-art consumption, she caused me to completely lose my place in the book, and thus lose a good 10 minutes of productivity, while she, of course, remained calmly focused on The Law. Some people are just meant for small-town life, and should, along with those carrying suspicious packages, be forbidden from riding the subway.

Furthermore, much like the discussion a while back on Amber Taylor's blog and elsewhere about women being asked to smile, I'd imagine that, had I been, say, a 6'6", 300 pound man, the aforementioned discussion would never have happened.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just curious--how often do you miss your stop, what with all the Hebrew hip-hop and Celine?

Blundering American said...

As someone in the profession, I think if anyone should have been worried, it should have been you. If this woman is studying to be a lawyer, she's got bigger problems ahead of her than your hearing.

If anything she should have given you a card and said, "When you lose your hearing, give me a call...we'll get a class action started..."

misterniceguy1960 said...

I find it heartening how many non-USAns have recently expressed concern to me about the possible end of U.S. hegemony. I would have thought that after the Bush Embarrassment, everyone who hadn't already been thoroughly sick of us, would be.

I guess we have something going for us, even if it is only not being China, not being Britain, not being Germany, &c.

Ling said...

Hey, law students are training to be douche bags. I think your post illustrates this beautifully.

Phoebe said...

Nope, never miss my stop. The trick is only reading till a couple stops before the one you need.

Anonymous said...

I don't know...I sort of sympathize with the law student woman. I (a big feral man) have too bite my tongue sometimes not to tell someone they will lose their hearing at increased volumes. My friend recently went to the doctor complaining of ringing and pain after taking one of those Chinatown to DC busrides; the Doctor said it might be permanent.
Perhaps buy a better pair of earbuds to decrease the chances.

Phoebe said...

Do you also bite your tongue every time you see someone eat fast food? Do you warn people talking on cellphones that they might be running up their bills? Do you warn affectionate couples of the risk of STDs? To reiterate: the world is a dangerous place, but if someone isn't bothering you, leave him (or, realistically, her) alone.

Clémentine said...

Some couple are just too affectionate anyway. :)