I know that I'm going to sound like an old man with this post. But I kind of don't care. The thing is, I'm kind of sick of all the fecking noise everywhere I go.
These last couple of weeks I've spent a fair amount of time on trains and planes and every trip has been, well, noisy.
I took the train to Lyon, and the guy across from me was shouting - things that I imagine he wouldn't want his competitors to know about his business - into his mobile phone. Not at all sotto voce. Not at all subtile. Just loud. Until I asked him to stop, that is.
On the train back from Strasbourg, the men at the table across from mine were heading to Paris to take their TGV driver exams. They were excitable, to say the least. The volume increased and they got steadily louder. Until I asked them to be quiet, that is.
And on the métro into work this morning, the young girl sat next to me had her ipod so loud that I could hear the words of the songs - Sheryfa Luna, not my favourite...she sings a bit flat if you ask me. It was loud, tinny, someone-else's-headphones music...until I asked her to turn it down, that is.
Luckily, everytime I ask someone to turn it down they look incredibly embarassed and shocked that they were disturbing me. Every time, they have reduced their volume and got on with it. I appreciate that this could easily go the other way.
Equally, everytime I ask someone to turn it down, there are other passengers who look at me and smile, or who mouth 'merci' to me. Jeez folks, glad to be of service, but how about you ask next time?
As much as I'd like someone else to get involved once in a while, I'm quite happy to be the one doing the asking - it can work wonders sometimes. Back in the Lyon days, I once asked the guy sat next to me if he'd mind taking his phone call to the special area that SNCF have put on the trains (complete with sofa style seating) for such purposes.
When he came back, he apologised and we got talking. The conversation had been about a posting to the UK and we chatted a lot about how that might go - about the differences between English and French working styles and living conditions. By the end of the journey he had my number and we had a plan to meet the following night for a drink.
I'm not saying that a beautiful romance started when I asked him to shut up, but it certainly turned out to be, erm, interesting.
And I'm not saying that asking someone to be quiet on public transport will always get you laid - it's equally as likely to get you punched I guess.
But what I am saying is this...
"keep the noise down you bunch of freaks, there's people trying to sleep here!"