In recent mornings, I have noticed the sound of music from around 7:30 – 8:00am. The noise comes from outside of my apartment but is easily audible from within it. It is not just any music. It is what I as a hip-hop fan would categorize as “gangsta rap“. This is not my favorite sub-category of rap music, especially not at 7:30 in the morning.
Nonetheless, my days and I suspect the days of many of my neighbors have often gotten started to the tune of DMX’s Ruff Ryders’ Anthem. The music is not blaring by the time it reaches the inside of my apartment but if I could choose to hear it or not to hear it, I would certainly choose the latter. One day I got to wondering if the guy playing the music considered the idea that others would be able to hear it too, even outside of his own building (excuse me if I incorrectly assume male gender based on the playlist). I thought about whether he has been conscious of the possible impact he could be having on others and has chosen to play the music anyway, or whether he has been more innocently oblivious to the impact, which could be one that he has simply never thought to consider.
This morning, I woke up and heard the music, same as always. I got dressed and went for a run along the East River. When I got back to my apartment, I switched my bluetooth connection from my headphones to my speakers, changed what was playing from a podcast to a playlist, and jumped in the shower. I was a couple of minutes in when the first song ended and just before the second song began I heard the words, “turn down the music!” After taking a moment to consider whether or not the words were a part of the song I was listening to, I determined that they most likely were not. Someone had timed it to yell between songs so that I could hear them through the window. While I may sometimes be careless, I do try to be courteous. I jumped out mid-shower, turned the music down about 80%, and got back in to wash the shampoo out of my hair. If I was a dog with a tail, it would have been between my legs. I realized in that moment that I was an unconscious offender of the same crime that my gangsta rap neighbor was, only playing a less aggressive song.
Honestly, I had thought about the possible impact of my playing music while I showered once or twice before. I always came to the conclusion that I could continue to play my shower music at what I thought would be a reasonable volume. Admittedly, I probably have played it a bit louder than that on some days, and today was obviously one of those days. With the bathroom window open, the louder than normal music was even further amplified, and I should have thought about the fact that it might be disturbing someone’s peace and quiet, but I did not.
From here on forward, in an effort not to bother, I will be better about keeping the window closed during my showers and making a more conservative assumption about what low volume of music is a non-bothersome level to play it at. As the botheree (as opposed to the botherer), maybe one day I will go so far as to yell out my window to the neighbor with the evident penchant for gangsta rap.
Everyone makes impacts that they are unaware of all of the time, everyday, sometimes good and sometimes bad. When we notice actions of others that impact us negatively, we should strive to be more conscious when it is possible that we are creating those same negative impacts ourselves. It is because I have sat behind people who lean their seats back on flights when I am eating, for instance, that I am more conscious about putting my seat up when food is served. I should probably keep the seat straight the whole flight if I really want to be a good guy, and sometimes I do, but I am 6’3″ and if the person in front of me leans theirs back I may be a contrarian but I am not totally immune from following the leads of others. I also should probably not be eating the airplane food in the first place, but that is besides the point. The takeaway here, if nothing else, is to be a little more thoughtful about the volume at which we play music in our apartments, especially those of us who live in densely populated cities where several apartments are within earshots of one another. At the very least, we should not be blasting Ruff Ryder’s Anthem by DMX first thing on a Tuesday morning.