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Front Page » January 24, 2006 » Opinion » Store sounds are not music to my ears
Published 3,132 days ago

Store sounds are not music to my ears


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate general manager

We stood there looking at the televisions blaring their color and sound at us. Each had on the same channel, one with gardening, advertising and of course the corporate line, of the company store in which we were standing.

Above us, speakers with elevator music also trembled with excitement as they vibrated their way into our ears.

I was trying to make up my mind about a purchase on a nearby aisle as we watched the boob tubes hanging on the wall. But watching an advertisement on a device for which the advertisement was designed, was just a little too much for me.

"Let's go somewhere else to shop," I told my wife. "There is way too much noise in here for me."

We left and despite the heavy traffic outside on the street, with its own set of resonating reverberations, I calmed down a little.

But soon I found myself in a grocery store with cart in hand passing my time away in the bread aisle while my wife waited in line at the pharmacy. As I strolled up and down the bread racks trying to make up my mind which of a dozen kinds of hot dog buns to buy I found myself surrounded by sound from the speakers in the store ceiling playing the old song "Aquarius" by the Fifth Dimension. Now I like that song, but as I stood there the tinny sound of the speaker right above me, a kid screaming his head off in the ice cream aisle next door and some guy sorting through the packages of potato chips at the end of what I thought of as my private bread land began to make me crazy. Then, as the song was winding down, just as things were starting to quiet down a little, a woman store employee got on the the speaker system with this scatchy voice.

"We need a wet cleanup on aisle 15. Wet cleanup on aisle 15. We need a wet cleanup on aisle 15."

The announcement had been about 50 decibels louder than the music. I went to the pharmacy, where my wife was just finishing up and convinced her that we needed to leave before I started to act on my irritation.

As we left in the car we ran into some holiday traffic. I sat there and sat there waiting through three cycles of lights before I even got to the point where I thought we might get through the intersection on the next one. On the radio was some lovely Christmas music; you know from the station that plays the 100,000 hours of holiday music every Christmas season. At that point in time they were playing every rendition of "Here comes Santa Claus" they had in their collection at the station. It played over and over again until I about broke the radio turning it off.

We finally cleared the traffic and decided to stop and have something to eat. We went to one of those "family" restaurants situated along the interstate. As we walked into the little store in front of the restaurant a comic "character band" was playing on the top of a table. There was a famous rabbit with a fiddle, and pig with drum and a mouse with a guitar, all being led by a red suited Santa with a baton. It was so cute (and so noisy) it was almost more than I could stand.

After some perfunctionary browsing around the store filled with noisy little toys on almost every aisle, we finally ended up in the line for food. It was crowded and noisy, but at least the waitress led us to what seemed to be a quiet corner where we could actually talk to each other. As I sat down and began to peruse the menu I realized that the speaker that provided the music for that part of the restaurant was hanging right over my head. Suddenly it came on with a rendition of some country song about some poor cowpoke loosing his honey. As I ordered the music changed to some poor honey losing her cowboy. The next song came on as our salads arrived and it concerned some poor trucker losing his load. As the main course was placed on the table top a song came on about a poor country boy who was stuck in the city, when his heart was in the country.

As I finished and asked for a cup of coffee to go along with my dessert, "A boy named Sue" came on the overhead system. Someone in the office must have really liked that song because the volume seemed to go up about three clicks as it started, and some people in the restaurant started to sing it out loud.

By this time I was ready to leave. Needless to say it had been a noisy day as I drove across the mountain to get home. The radio was off, my wife fell into a shallow nap and all I had to contend with was Colorado drivers who wanted to play chicken with me, Californians who wanted to pass on the snowy roads no matter if it was two or four lane pavement and motorists from Texas who had never driven in the mountains before, particularly during a snowstorm.

That drive from Spanish Fork to Helper turned out to be the calmest part of my day.


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January 24, 2006
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