What happened to people’s inside voices?
I was in a hotel room with the worst sound-proofing in the history of sound-proofing. Or perhaps the sound-proofing was okay and it was just the guests of the hotel who were incapable of using their inside voices while they paraded up and down the corridor with stomping feet, laughter and name-calling.
A deep raspy voice outside by the pool area announced, “Ja boet, I really pulled my hamstring with that kick today”.
Rugby players. I saw Mr. Muscle (or maybe it was Mr. Min, the resemblance was uncanny) with the cleats dangling from his hands upon check-in.
A few minutes later a male-female collaborative chatter shattered my hopes of a quiet night, “ANC…blah blah…DA…blah blah…KFC…blah blah…EFF”.
Politicians. I saw the brightly coloured cars in the parking lot. I’m pretty sure those faces were on the news recently.
Hours later I crawled into bed and the most unexpected high-pitched distressed voice with a side of uncontrollable laughter roared from one end of the corridor all the way to the other side.
“Mavis! Mavis!”, the voice shouted while the rest of the squad burst out in giggles.
Party-goers. Drunks. Who is Mavis?
And while the rugby players, politicians and party-goers had a verbal blast in front of my door I wondered; what happened to people’s inside voices? What happened to travellers’ awareness of their surroundings, respect and plain and simple manners?
The same thought crossed my mind while in Addo National Park the other day on a self-drive game drive. I parked at one of the waterholes, switched off the engine and watched as a herd of elephants sipped water, bathed and played.
Until one car pulled up with people who forgot that they were not attending a shouting festival. Obnoxiously they commented on the elephants, cheered loudly as one bull showed his testosterone and excitement and laughed in a rooster-type-of-cackle at every warthog.
There were a lot of warthogs.
The next day I went on a guided game drive with a mother and her kids (about half a dozen). The mother – an eager beaver who earned a well-deserved spot on my hit list – granted me about 30 minutes of silence during a 200-minute game drive. She talked over the guide and made a remark on everything while her kids sat in well-behaved silence and awe with the occasional soft whisper from time to time.
What happened to travellers’ awareness of their surroundings, respect and plain and simple manners? What happened to being so overwhelmed by a moment in nature that you immediately switch to a library voice?
Do I have sensitive ears or did the art of talking at 60 decibels disappear into thin air?
If you get on a bus you have to hear the uncomfortable conversation between Jack and Jill, fighting over the phone. In an airport kids are screaming as they run up and down while the fingers of mom and dad are frolicking over phones. In a movie theatre there’s always that one guy. In a restaurant one table will share their conversation with thirty other diners. At an Asian temple or religious site foreigners in elephant pants are carrying on with their conversations, taking their selfies and jumping shots, a few hundred decibels too loud while locals are bowed in prayer.
Maybe I am just over-senstive?
Maybe it is because of the rugby-players, politicians and party-goers verbal blast in the corridor. Maybe the sound-proofing of the hotel was really bad. Maybe the whole hotel is just generally out of order because water bubbled up from my shower’s drain.
I don’t know.
But just as I drifted away, I heard once again, “Mavis, Mavis!”
I jumped up, yanked the door open, ignored my inside voice and yelled, “Who the hell is Mavis?” and the shouter plus two other gigglers disappeared into a room.
Thinking back now, I probably used another word and didn’t say “hell”.
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