Tom is among the readers who responded to my recent column about annoying sounds. Paul Cook is another. He lives in a townhouse neighborhood in Fairfax, Va., where the sound of birds singing has been overwhelmed by the sound of backup beepers from delivery vehicles.
Wrote Paul: “While they were always present, I’ve noticed during our coronavirus quarantine a marked increase in delivery trucks of all kinds, which drive into our cul-de-sac, drop off their packages and then back out to the main road. . . . BEEP BEEP BEEP for 10 to 30 seconds!
“With more of us retreating to our homes due to work or school changes, we’re exposed to these new sounds.”
Paul figures we no longer need to ask whether a tree that falls in the forest makes a sound when no one is there.
Ward Thomas of Vienna, Va., thinks any list of annoying sounds must include the wall-mounted blow dryers in public restrooms. Wrote Ward: “They’re like jet engines! Ain’t worth it just to dry your hands.”
Plus, has anyone ever encountered a gas station bathroom that didn’t have the words “Wipe hands on pants” scratched into the face of the dryer as the last instruction?
Last November, Marc McGee’s family moved to a home in North Potomac, Md. They liked the house and the price was great. They did notice that there was a hump in the road out front and wondered how traffic on it would affect the soundscape.
“We talked about expected levels of noise, but we had no idea of the extent,” Marc wrote.
And then the hump thumps started. They began around 6 a.m., with the school buses. Next came the yard crews, who fly over the hump with their equipment in tow.
Wrote Marc: “The very worst is UPS drivers, who seem to speed up to catch some air as they pass.”
A 69-year-old reader named Paul said he “grew up in a different time.” The sound he dreaded most as a boy was the sentence his mother uttered whenever he was in trouble: “Wait till your father gets home.”
Wrote Paul: “I loved my Dad, but his discipline was honed during the Depression and the challenges of World War II. Although as a father my approach was a little different, I never judge him on his methods as he was a loving father and I never walked in his shoes.”
A reader named Karen from Virginia found the way I threw around the term “misophonia” in my previous column misleading — and offensive. Using the term to describe sounds that some people find humorously annoying is the misuse of a debilitating condition. It’s akin to saying that someone who likes to make their bed in the morning has obsessive-compulsive disorder.
“People who have misophonia are not ‘bothered’ by certain noises,” Karen wrote. “Rather, when they hear one of their trigger noises, they experience extremely strong emotional and physical reactions, including a fight or flight response. The trigger noise is unbearable to the individual and continuing to hear it causes high levels of anxiety and stress, far more severe than what is described in your column.”
Karen’s daughter suffers from misophonia.
“In my experience, many people have never heard of misophonia, and others are skeptical when they are told about it,” Karen wrote. “Both of these factors make it that much more difficult for people suffering from misophonia. Good education on the subject is necessary to help more people to understand and perhaps to have some empathy.”
Finally, Brenda Molloy of Sandy Spring, Md., has no one but herself to blame for a sound her husband finds less than beautiful.
Wrote Brenda: “Late on a recent Sunday morning, I began singing an approximation of the Gregorian chant I had just been listening to on SiriusXM radio. My husband, Arnold, suddenly said, ‘Would you mind moving up a couple of centuries?’ ”
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/john-kelly.