So I went for my annual hearing test. The exam has two parts: the first part is where they play beeps at various decibel levels. First for the right ear and then the left. I am asked to hit a buzzer when I hear a beep. Some are loud, some are soft, some are just right and some I’m not sure I’m actually hearing but I press the buzzer anyway. I wonder what it’s like to the person administering the test. It probably sounds like Morse code gone wrong.
It hasn’t been fun in the Sunshine State these past few days. An emerging young singer was shot to death at a meet-and-greet, a gator dragged a two year-old toddler into the lake near a Disneyworld resort and of course there was that horrific shooting spree at a night club, resulting in the deaths of more than fifty people who were only guilty of wanting to have a good time. Even with Florida’s reputation as Ground Zero for all things weird and insane, this definitely has to be one for the history books. This was not a week of happy endings.
The Pulse incident is just one of the many horrific massacres that have underscored America’s gun control debate. Sandy Hook. Columbine. How is it still possible for anyone to simply walk into a store and buy a semi-automatic assault rifle with only a minimum of fuss? No background checks. No doctor’s note proving one’s mental health. No metal detectors. No x-raying of baggage or removal of shoes just to show that the subject will behave and not go bananas while in the air. If liquids, gels and sharp objects on planes are excessively restricted to the point of ridiculousness – I once had to give up a small jar of Speculoos cookie butter just to get through US customs – why are they so lax when it comes to the buying of dangerous weapons?
Public transit is an eye-opener. Three days in a row, the same group of teenagers get on the subway with me at the same time and proceed to treat the train car as their own private man cave. Boisterous laughter, dangling from the overhead bars, talking at the top of their lungs. It’s a nightmare. And it’s not just the teens. The adults are guilty of being inconsiderate too. They’ll sit there fiddling with their smartphones, ignoring their screaming offspring, not even bothering to give them the silent (but effective!) glare of death. Oh, and if they don’t get you with sound, they’ll get you with smell. Each year brings Toronto’s Summer of the Armpit and Winter of the Unwashed. Sometimes the smell is so thick you could cut it with a knife.