Walking Dead

Squeamishness has never been my thing (well, except for things like using eye drops–thankfully, I still don't need glasses because I couldn't deal with contacts) but I'm being diligent about not clicking on  any photos of that Miami face-eating victim. That story upsets me in ways that the one about  the woman who was mauled by that chimp named Travis (who could forget that name?) and had to get a face transplant didn't. I could look at photos of her shredded face. The Miami incident makes me feel sick (enough to emotionally vomit? Probably not) because how could something occur during the middle of the day in public and go on for 18 minutes with no intervention? Plus, I love zombies the most of all monsters, I think, because the concept of humanoids eating human flesh is the scariest.

As the weather gets nicer and school gets closer to ending, the young (pre?) teens outside my window get louder and more manic. Someone's face could totally be getting gnawed off, though I generally chalk up the yelps and hollers to hormonal exuberance.  My ears have become desensitized to sudden guttural barks, high pitched shrieks, and everyone calling everyone "motherfucker," "nigga," or "gay" (not in the old-timey "retarded" you are lame sense, but you're acting homosexual). It's harmless. It's also incredibly distracting on the days I work from home, which can be many as four times a week. Though I dread the rough summer heat and humidity, at least the window air conditioners block the sound and head-tops from my line of sight.

I do wonder if I've become an unusually noise-aware grump with age. I'm on year eight in this apartment (and year 14 in NYC as of the past weekend) and I've only been stunned at the noise pollution in the past few years. The BQE traffic has never bothered me, that's white noise. When the school day ends at 3:15 construction workers show up, take over the scaffolding that's been affixed to the school's edifice off and on for at least four years, and power saw, hammer, yell, drop thing, drive cranes up and down the street until the wee hours (ok, more like 10-11pm). Two weeks ago the coop building attached to ours put up scaffolding on their facade and have been doing construction all day. My front door being feet away from the building's two front doors also never used to be a big deal, now there's frequent door buzzing and slamming and stompy foot traffic up and down the stairs, not to mention the screaming, abnormally crying (to the point where I wonder if this child is autistic or something, or I'm hoping, because an emotional or developmental disorder would be the only explanation that  would elicit sympathy from me) tantrum-throwing toddler who makes a scene first thing in the morning when getting put in his stroller and wakes me up, then repeats the event throughout the day.  Instead of being taken outside or up into his apartment he is allowed to howl for five minutes or more on the other side of my front door, just ten feet from where I'm working. I felt a bit more sane, and less judgy when a woman who was visiting the building heard the commotion and got all concerned, popped out of the apartment upstairs and asked the mom "Is he all right?" like that wailing could only come from an injured child when the truth is these fits occur multiple times each day. I should start taking the passive-aggressive approach and stick my head out the door each time and ask if everything is OK. It's to the point that when I have conference calls for work or have to do interviews, I must go into my room, shut the door and all of the windows so I can hear what anyone is saying and the people on the phone don't ask what all the ruckus is.  I wonder if the parents of this child, who I know are both Ph.d education people from a good school because I'm nosy (and assume/hope that everyone I allude to online has far more important things to do than Google me) will be sending him to public school. I do not plan on being around when he gets old enough to yell in front of my window with his friends.

Yesterday I didn't use my iPod so I heard a lot more during my commute. I even interacted with, i.e. talked to, two separate people on the R train on my way into the office.  On my way back into Brooklyn, though, I entered the Whitehall station to witness an agitated older man with a heavy accent saying (to me?) "Call the police." I couldn't gauge in a split second what he meant or what the problem was because no one else had made it to the top of the stairs from his train yet.

Frankly, I didn't want anything to do with a potentially dangerous situation so just  I swiped my card to get on my way, but it was empty. I went over to the Metrocard machine where there used to be a token booth containing a human so my back was to the turnstiles. At this point a younger man showed up and was yelling at the older guy, about what I don't know. Were they in a fight? Was this why the older guy wanted the cops? I couldn't tell how serious the situation was. While I was still using the touchscreen and trying to buy my card, I got an earful of that  familiar teen barking and shrieking, the mating call between aggro young men and the girls who inexplicably enjoy it. Flailing limbs shot out of my peripheral vision, horseplay, I assume like when kids jump up on each other's backs, piggy-backing. I blocked that out too, like usual.

It wasn't until I heard, then saw, a sensible, short-haired, Teva-type, middle-aged woman yelling, "What are you doing?" that I jerked around. "Just playing," said the boy, as he had the girl locked in a grip she couldn't leave the station and was trying to kick and punch him, a notch above horseplay. "Well, it doesn't look good!" the interloper scolded and then looked at me like I somehow condone domestic abuse. He could've been eating her face off and it wouldn't have caught my attention. How much energy should one put in paying attention to the noise of strangers in a noisy, overcrowded city? I'm torn between now being extra vigilant or making sure to always have my iPod so I can have an aural buffer from trouble even if it mean someone getting their face eaten off because I've tuned them out.

xOne stop later I was at my destination in downtown Brooklyn killing five minutes playing with my phone on a street corner like everyone else. A small boy passed me as he was about to get into a car parked on my left mumbled something. "What was that?" I asked, half-timid, half-accusatory, afraid it would be something abusive because who can trust an eight-year-old anymore? "I like your iPhone case," he replied.  Aw… I softened, "Thanks!"

11 thoughts on “Walking Dead

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