Have you heard of shutting your face?

I went to the local public library as an experiment in trying to get some peace and quiet so I could get some writing done. It failed miserably.

Instead, what I found was a den of inconsideration for the needs of others. I guess that’s no surprise these days. As the running around and wails of children rose higher and higher, I quickly began to question if this was a library or a fucking daycare.

Maybe I’m just a bitter post-middle-aged man who doesn’t care for the free-spirited and clamorous cries of high-octane toddlers in a quiet space intended for reading, writing, and study.

Do I have a stick up my ass? Is it seriously too much to expect a library to be void of noisy and obnoxious distractions?

My god! If your kids want to run around and scream, take them to the park – or a hockey game! Or at least temper their outbursts with some calming discipline or a Flintstones’ chewable valium.

But it’s not just the amped up children causing distractions – full-blown adults are to blame, too. I’m talking about the ones who think the library is the perfect place to carry on a cell phone conversation loud enough for everyone to be a part of. Really? I don’t need to hear about your cousin’s latest bout with explosive diarrhea.

Then there’s the folks who find it perfectly reasonable to yell to each across the entire room.

“Did you find that book yet!”

“No!”

“Then quit wasting time and come up over here and asks the person at the desk!”

SHHHHHHHHH!

It got to the point I wanted to scream myself. But instead, I shut down my work, packed up my laptop and walked out. I was left defeated and uninspired and unable to accomplish anything I set out to do. Frustration. It seems to haunt me everywhere I go.

Part of the problem is, I’m easily distracted. It’s difficult for me to focus sometimes and so I’m much better off in a quiet environment. I’m nothing like my wife. She could read a book at a death metal concert and comprehend it all with the clarity of an unmuddied lake.

But this isn’t the only incident of unwanted clamor when the situation dictates some level of quiet and respect that I have recently experienced. Just the other day, my wife, myself, and my father-in-law attended my stepson’s senior awards ceremony at his high school.

We were all disappointed to see a lack of attention and respect when speakers were at the podium presenting awards. Granted, some of the lists of award winners were long and tedious and maybe some parts of the program could have been better executed, but that still doesn’t excuse some of the behavior we sadly witnessed.

Many people, students mostly, were talking among themselves as if they were in the lunchroom swapping unwanted sandwiches and stories of weekend sexual conquests. There were several points in the program where we couldn’t even hear the presenter speaking – and they were using a microphone. Many of the students lacked any sort of interest in the accomplishments of their peers and made it quite apparent by meditative and deadpan stares into cell phone screens.

The sad part is, there was only one teacher/administrator who even vaguely addressed the problem – and even then, used only a brief, disgruntled glance toward the crowd. Someone should have stepped up to the microphone and politely demanded attention to the matters at hand. No one really did, and when it came time for my stepson’s awards presentation, we struggled to hear what was even being said.

I felt bad for my wife. This was a big deal for her. It was a proud moment for her that she wanted to treasure. But it was left somewhat tainted by the inconsideration of others. Even so, she was glad to be there and requested a transcript of what was said during her son’s presentation. The written word will always have value.

And I have to wonder if it is all a generational thing – this lack of respect and attention and any consequences for it. My father-in-law let it be known that such behavior back in his days would have never been tolerated – it would have been stopped – abruptly, and with vigor.

What can I say? Maybe I am just becoming a grumpy old man and my tolerance level just isn’t what it used to be. I’m not that old, though. I’m younger than Johnny Depp.

Now you kids get off my lawn!

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