I just have to wonder whether the constant noise and barrage of images everywhere one goes doesn’t serve as a giant iron blanket covering the consciousness of everyone subjected to its invasive and overwhelming pervasiveness. I can barely stand to shop in stores blaring music and advertising and televisions, all beaming down on us under cold fluorescent lights. My body reacts just sitting here thinking of it. Most corporate chain restaurants seem hell bent on ensuring their patrons cannot converse with the person across from them. Maybe they’re worried these patrons will be discussing the wretchedness of the edible food-like substances on their menus.
I rarely, rarely venture into these establishments, but the other day I was in a long outdoor strip mall waiting for my dog to finish getting his hair cut. I was with my 5 year old. When she lay on the floor and kicked her feet at a toy store because I wouldn’t buy some trinket or other, I knew she was hungry. She only acts like that when she’s hungry. I had fed her lunch, but she seems to be going through a growth spurt because she’s been needing to eat every two hours lately. Shame on me for forgetting snacks.
Unfortunately the only options were corporate chains, and not many of them. An IHOP sat across the street. On our side of the road was a Red Robin. Egads. I couldn’t very well feed us dog treats from the pet store. I didn’t think I would want to eat anything in either of them, and I knew Red Robin blared music so loud, one couldn’t think. The last time I was in one of these places was several years ago. My daughter’s grandparents wanted to treat us to lunch and took us to a Red Robin. We could not converse, it was so loud. I vowed then and there never to return, but desperate circumstances require desperate acts.
The onslaught of noise upon entering was instantaneous and complete. There could be no thoughts beyond those being imposed by the bland, repetitive sound in the place. It was like walking into a block of it. I tried drifting over toward the hallway toward the restrooms while we waited for the hostess to notice us. No relief. I moved back toward the door, hoping as other patrons entered I could grasp some of the quiet outside. I turned to my daughter in order to tell her we were going to have to find somewhere else to go, but just at that moment the hostess came to seat us. I thought perhaps once we entered the cavernous expanse of the place the sound would dissipate somewhat, and it seemed to.
Unfortunately, relief was short-lived. The lull was caused by a change in songs, the second as bad as the first. A busser stopped by our table to ask us something. What? What? DO YOU WANT ANYTHING TO DRINK? Yes. Silence, please. Do you have that? She looked at me blankly.
It didn’t help that the music was bloody awful. I don’t imagine there is anyone in the world who purposely chooses to listen to the noises they were playing. I considered whether I could have stood its volume had it been something I enjoyed. I doubted it. It was simply too loud.
How is it people stand this? The place was pretty full for a Sunday afternoon. I don’t get it. Not only is the food terrible, one cannot hear oneself think, let alone carry on a conversation with another person. I had to yell for my daughter to hear me. The waiter had to bend over near my face to hear our order. It seems like a work hazard on some level.
I finally got to the place where I couldn’t take it anymore. When our waiter brought over our food, I asked him if the music was always so deafening. He said sometimes, and then asked if I wanted it turned down. Do I breathe? Yes. A few minutes later it was still loud but I didn’t have to yell for my daughter to hear me.
What is it with businesses that create an atmosphere that is intolerable? Am I the only one who can hear? Do most people want their senses obliterated with too much input? I don’t get it, I really don’t. It’s like people don’t want to participate in life or something. I don’t know how they can think clearly. Maybe I’m overly sensitive, or maybe a significant segment of the population is shut down. Maybe both? I do know that I was right when I remembered that Red Robin isn’t a place I want to frequent. The food is terrible and the atmosphere is worse. Why go there? I’d rather eat dog treats at the pet store.