Ask Amy: Nature lover seeks noise cancellation

Dear Amy: I live in Colorado and have young children at home, as well as a job where I am constantly bombarded by sound.

I frequent outdoor spaces seeking peace, solitude, and the quiet sounds of nature — for my mental health.

I am dismayed at the proliferation of Bluetooth speakers, large and small. They seem to be everywhere! Hiking trails, lakes, on boats and paddleboards, at the pool, while camping, even strapped to people while they are biking and skiing! Few seem concerned about the noise pollution they are inflicting on others around them.

Why do people seem not to notice or care that those around them may not wish to listen to their choice of music?

What happens if we get multiple, conflicting speakers at the same time?

I wish I could ask people to use headphones when they are alone, or at least turn down the sound so it is mostly heard by a group in a small vicinity, not everyone around them.

In the case of running or biking, they should only wear one ear bud and have the volume on low for their safety and those around them.

Is there a respectful way to ask people to either turn their music down or off so that those of us wishing for quiet can also share the space?

What do you think?

— Not Musically Inclined

Dear Not Inclined: My time on this earth has been long enough that I’ve seen two iterations of this problem — first in the ’70s/’80s, with the rise of the mighty “boombox,” and now with the prevalence of personal Bluetooth speakers.

Back in the boombox days, cities started enacting and enforcing noise ordinances (especially on public transportation). That, and the rise of the Walkman, seemed to finally bring on the sounds of silence.

Little did any of us realize that we would look back on the last three decades as halcyon days of relative quiet.

Like you, I don’t understand the impulse to share one’s music with strangers (perhaps readers will weigh in to explain), and yet they do — contributing more noise to an already noisy world.

Yes, there is a polite way to ask someone to turn down their music (“Would you mind turning down your music?”). And yet — the important question for you to answer for yourself is whether it is safe to do so.

It seems that people who blast music while in public are finding ways to dominate the space, and it is not always wise to confront this sort of dominance.

Your town and local park system might find it appropriate to enact (or enforce) rules regarding noise pollution. You would be doing your neighbors a favor by taking up this cause to these governing bodies.

Dear Amy: My husband and I have seven adult children: Two are his, four are mine, and one is “ours.” All are estranged at this time.

I worded my will that the estate is to be divided equally among the children who can show they have been in contact with me within the last six months.

That can be through phone records or texts or word of mouth from the others. Estrangement is a disease in my family.

My grandfather was estranged from his family.

My mother was estranged from me, her only child. And now it has hit my children.

None of it is my choice, but those estranged shall not be rewarded.

— My Last Will

Dear My Last Will: “Estrangement is a disease in my family.”

What a tragic occurrence.

I’m going to assume that there is no one cause for this generational estrangement, but more that cutting others off is your family’s way of coping with intense emotions.

You were estranged from your mother, and so your children didn’t witness a parent and child coping with the ups and downs of a relationship, resolving conflict, and forgiving one another.

Your attempt to resolve this by trying to control your children via your will seems like a superficial fix to a deep problem. A therapist might help you to find other ways to undo your legacy of estrangement.

Dear Amy: Like others, I want to disagree with your answer to “A Lying Waiter,” the guy who said they only served decaf coffee at the restaurant, regardless of what people ordered.

I need caffeine. And if I order caffeinated coffee, I expect to get it.

Now I know that you endorse lying.

— Honestly

Dear Honestly: I did endorse this lie, and readers are quite jittery about it.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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