Noise, Noise, Noise

Unlike the Grinch, I do like toys.
Just like the Grinch, though, I hate hate noise.

Dr. Seuss attempts aside, I find the noise pollution at Georgetown to often be unbearable. From 7am to 10pm, every manner of aircraft will fly over campus, incredibly low of course, since National Airport is just down and across the river, directly in the NW-SE flightpath. I'm glad that DC and Arlington have the curfew, of course, but the fact is I'm not outside as much between 10pm and 7am anyway. The planes have never woken me up in the morning - though I can still of course hear them from my room. Humans have actually been more of a problem with waking me up, and I'm not talking about my roommate. Last year, when I lived on the 3rd floor rather than the 4th, the ROTC woke me up several times on mornings they organized outside my window and did roll call and whatever else. Student tour guides also have very piercing voices, something I've been reminded of now that Georgetown's "tourist season" has come back around.

These disturbances I can hear from my room are not constant, however, nor do they wake me up enough to be particularly infuriating. The real problem is outside.

Nearly every time I step outside my building of residence, especially in the middle of weekdays, I will be immediately exposed to all manner of noise. Not only is it the planes, which are deafeningly loud when you're outside and under them, but every sort of vehicle possible, from cars speeding through campus to the ubiquitous Jesuit or maintenance golf cart to, worst of all, the huge GUTS buses (pictured, credit to Vox Populi) which leave your eardrums reeling as they pass by - though if you're inside of them getting somewhere, they don't seem so loud at all.

Even in the middle of the night, when nothing is going on at all, stepping outside will still not bring you any closer to the glorious joy of silence. There always seem to be buildings buzzing, (though I honestly don't know why), cars on the highway, and who knows what else to come along at random. I honestly think sometimes that experiencing perfect silence in my Georgetown life is impossible, and I'll always have to wait to get back to Ketchikan.

I won't idealize my hometown, though. At night while growing up I could still hear the occasional car speed by on the street, and when outside in recent years at night, construction at the airport or work at the shipyard would often make loud noise, clearly audible even with my house hundreds of feet and dozens of blocks - possibly miles - uphill and away, and in the case of the former, across the Tongass Narrows on an entirely separate island! Mechanical noises seem to be a reality of modern urban life in many places, but I would like to see commonsensical progress made in quieting many of our most common machines, from cars to computers to washing machines. It shouldn't take a generational epidemic of deafness to manifest itself before we do something about noise.

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