Pavlovian Terror

Some time ago I had the misfortune to rent a flat and find myself with neighbours from hell.  Two of them, brother and sister.  Both of them would frequently turn the stereo right up at any time of day or night: thump, thump, thump, audible from ten (big) houses away.  And since they kept irregular hours, a quiet start to the night was no reassurance against one of them coming in at 2, 3 or 4 a.m. and turning it on.

My body (or was it my mind, or my subconscious) developed a Pavlovian reaction.  I’d be lying in bed, with all quiet.  The bedroom was at the back so the road was distant, but still I’d suddenly be aware if a car stopped or passed slowly outside.  It could be perfectly innocent: anyone other than the noisy ones, but it still struck fear into me.  I had become hypersensitive to the danger.

I’m happy to say that when I got out of that place, the fear and hypersensitivity instantly vanished.  That despite my next home being on a busier road with my bedroom at the front.  With no worse nuisance than a van that commonly parked overnight outside and whose alarm went off any time it rained or the wind blew, I could get back to a more normal/healthy state.

The current place has noise problems, though not so serious as those neighbours from hell.  I recently blogged about one such: the busker from hell.  This morning I again heard an amplified flute from the town centre, and was struck with dread of another miserable day.  It took some time to realise this one was actually different: still annoying, but less muzaked, a player who wasn’t totally devoid of ability, and I think I might even have found it tolerable for a while if I hadn’t been conditioned by the other one.  Take away the amplification and this one might be OK!

I had already planned supermarket shopping for today, and when I got back he’d packed up and gone.  I wonder how I’ll react now if I hear another busker on an amplified flute?  Will I be struck with instant terror, or will I be able to give it the benefit of the doubt until I’ve heard more than the sound?  Likely both!

Posted on November 24, 2011, in noise. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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