I just returned from a trip to, among other places, Las Vegas, and I was very bothered by the volume of sound in several places I visited. While I may be over-sensitive, I can’t believe that ear-splitting sound levels are good for the health of either the patrons or the employees of these loud establishments, and I question whether they are good for the bottom line. When time permits, I’ll look for studies, but I find it hard to believe that sound levels I find uncomfortable to be present in are enjoyed by anyone. Loud noise in other public places has become endemic — in addition to the dreaded airport CNN monitors, about which I’ve previously written, I often find televisions — usually competing with other background music — blaring in restaurants and bars. In an age when everyone has a smart phone or other device that allows them to listen to whatever they want, is it really necessary for airports and other public places to bother those of us who prefer silence?
My trip exposed me to another of my pet peeves — screaming babies on airplanes. Ear plugs are not a complete solution; what also would help would be to ask families who travel with young children, in exchange for the preferred boarding and the ability to bring infants along for free they now get, to sit in the last few rows of the plane. It astounds me that Southwest, the airline I usually fly, will require a “Customer of Size” to purchase an extra seat if he or she intrudes on the space of one other passenger (the cost of which is reimbursed if not every seat on the plane is taken), while a screaming infant can terrorize dozens of people with impunity. If the airlines really care about the comfort and well-being of their customers, they will pay more attention to the screaming baby issue. I for one will gladly shift my patronage to any airline that does.
Further on the theme of too much, why is everything over-sweetened? I have read that a can of regular Coke contains the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar, which seems objectionable on health grounds. Why not offer an alternative containing about half as much sugar, which might be more pleasing to adult palates and less objectionable than artificially sweetened alternatives, most of which also are cloyingly sweet. Reduced sugar drinks would appeal to those watching their calories and would result in good public relations for their makers, something the soft drink industry could use right now.
Oscar Wilde admonished “everything in moderation, including moderation.” Time to return to the time when moderation is the general rule and not the exception.