Sunday, January 13, 2008

You don't have to shout to be 'heard'

Picture the scene …

Late afternoon Friday - crowded rail carriage - a mixture of business people and families.

I was enjoying a nice peaceful journey and settling down to read my book on the two and a half hour journey home.

From four or five rows back I could hear the voice of an awfully well spoken English business man type. I guessed his profession to be something like solicitor or senior doctor. He was very precise in his use of words and the language had a kind of officialdom sound to it. He was clearly knowledgeable about the subject he was talking about. It happened to be various forms of discrimination gender, race, age etc.

His friend sitting next to him was presumably engaged in this discussion with him but I could not hear his voice.

I am an easy going sort but the clue is in the last paragraph about why I got increasingly frustrated.

It was perfectly fine for this man to have his conversation – after all - we live in a country where we can celebrate free speech.

My point is ... his conversation was not with the whole bloody carriage .... just the man he was sitting next to.

Come on – be honest – you’ve met these types on the train too haven't you?

These are the sort I describe as loving the sound of their own voice. They create enough volume for everyone within earshot (and well beyond in this case) to hear the wisdom of this great ego driven oratory expert.

Contrast that with the young family opposite me.

Mum and Dad probably in their early 20’s and their little girl of about 2. The child was immaculately behaved and entertained us with charming giggles every now and then. Her young parents managed to occupy their little girl so she did not cause any inconvenience to other passengers with the noise level. It was pretty obvious that this lovely family unit was not blessed with the oratory skills of the passenger from 5 rows back. To me their limited vocabulary, their warmth, and their obvious love for their child was a sight and sound far more noteworthy than the arrogant antics of ‘gobbie' from five sets back!

Oh Trevor – you really must stop being so judgmental!

Just needed to share that with you ….

A rant on a Sunday is great don’t you think?


Mike Gardner said...

Trevor, I suffer from approximately 50% loss of hearing in my right ear due to several severe infections a number of years ago. I sometimes have to remind myself that others hear my voice better than I do, especially in settings where there is a high ambient noise level. Please do no judge the speaker on the train too harshly. His voice volume may not have been ego driven, but physical impairment driven.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Mike - I am sorry to hear that about your hearing problems and you have my sympathy.

One gets a feeling about the difference between someone who has some form of disability and someone who likes to hear the sound of his/her own voice.

I still have a feeling the man on the train was in the latter category but of course you are right - I may be making a misjudgement. Thanks for pointing out that possibility.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, there is nothing more tiring than old men going on about the behaviour of other people's kids. So these ones kept their child occupied and the little girl wasn't a nuisance to you? And what of they hadn't? What if they had a normal child who occasionally got tired and stressed?

The ugly bore here is not the gentlement a few rows back who spoke too loudly for your comfort.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi anonymous - Thanks for your view – always good to be challenged.

We are all entitled to our opinion. And actually I don’t feel ‘old’

As a father of three children I remember very well travelling on trains when my kids were tiny and I’m sorry to disappoint you but I actually always saw it as important not to disturb other passengers through the behaviour of my children. That to me is good manners - nothing more, nothing less. Yes sometimes they were less than well behaved but I still tried hard not to disturb other passengers.

The family on the train last week were brilliant in occupying their child.

As regards the man five rows back, you might not think he was the ‘ugly bore’ but you were not there (I presume) and I will stick with my opinion.