Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It’s Been Quieter Since the Economy Started Sucking

When my family and I moved out here, to the middle of bloody nowhere, eighteen years ago, things were relatively quiet. We occasionally heard one or two people riding around in the area on ATVs, and we sometimes heard some noise from the trailer park behind our property. There’s a drag-racing track a few miles away and, on weekends, we heard the jet cars that the owners invited out to entertain the crowds.

However: for the most part, weekdays were quiet. People were at work and kids were at school. During summer months, there was weekend noise, but you expect that because families tend to be outside more. But most of the time, there weren’t many noises other than what nature created, and it was wonderful. I could sit outside and listen to birds, squirrels, and – at night at least – coyotes.

And because the occasional ATV rider…and the drag strip…were here long before we moved in, we were cool with all that. So our weekends weren’t as peaceful as our weekdays. That’s part of life. It would be insane to be pissed off about something that existed before you showed up, right? Right. I don’t feel sorry for people who buy homes near airports, then whine about the noise. If you didn’t want to hear jumbo jets all day and night long, you should have bought a different house. Duh.

However, a few years ago, some guy bought a buttload of acreage a couple of miles from The Homestead. Nobody in the community knew about this sale until the guy started working – and even then, we didn’t know what was happening, exactly, because he never made any announcements, introduced himself, et cetera.

We heard heavy equipment working, nonstop, from sunrise to sunset. People were clear-cutting acre after acre and moving dirt around to build…a motocross track. This earthen monstrosity turned out to be a practice track: a place where every dirtbike-riding person in the entire county could show up, pay a small fee, and ride all day long if they so desired.

I freaking hate dirtbikes. They make ungodly amounts of noise, and they’re a complete waste of time and money. One of my brothers owns one, and I despise the thing. Whenever he cranks it up, I have to listen to that infernal engine, which sounds like a cross between an anemic sewing machine and some high-school kid’s souped-up rice rocket. The high-pitched noises, which I can hear even when my door and windows are closed and my music is playing at high volume, make me homicidal. If I were given the chance to destroy just one noisemaker, it would be the dirtbike.

My brother does, however, have every right to his toy (which, incidentally, is for sale because he needs the cash for something that’s actually useful). And the guy who decided to open the motocross track near us has every right to his business. I’ve never considered trying to take away their rights, because that would be a nasty thing for me to do.

I do not, however, have to like or appreciate the noise and other annoyances that the dirtbikes have created.

The track is open seven days a week, from sunup to sundown. The owner’s children are homeschooled, so they can hop on their dirtbikes and haul butt up and down their track pretty much whenever they want – including early morning, when I like to stand outside and enjoy the birds and other wildlife before dragging my butt to school. The business owner and his family live on site, too, so they just walk outside, fire up their dirtbikes, and go.

And, of course, the rest of the dirtbike owners in the community show up to spend the day riding. Sometimes, as many as twenty, thirty dirtbikes are going at once, and the noise…well…even though there a couple of miles between the track and The Homestead, we still hear that crap.

You see…this gentleman did not have enough common courtesy to install any sort of noise suppression. He could have easily constructed mounds of dirt around the perimeter of the track, which would deflect a good bit of the ungodly noise. He could have also used cement walls, much like we see beside highways that cut through communities. Hell, he could have left some trees on his property to muffle the sounds, even. He could have done all sorts of things to keep as much of his noise as possible to himself, but he couldn’t, and still cannot, be bothered. Screw us, right?

That’s the part that bothers me the most: the guy’s utter lack of concern for the people who lived here before he bought his property. I’m thrilled that he has the right to open a business and all that, but I have to live here. I was already living here long before he showed up, and a little bit of decency would have gone a long way toward making me more tolerant of his track.

However, there is an upside to the economy sucking. The track has been nearly silent almost every day over the last several months. Back when gas was nearly four bucks a gallon here, I didn’t hear even his own kids on their dirtbikes. Beautiful. Just…beautiful. Life was almost back to normal out here. I could actually hear birds again, at least on weekdays.

Now, business is starting to pick up again, little by little, because gas isn’t quite two bucks a gallon. I do hear dirtbikes again, but it’s mostly on weekends, when I’m already drowning in noise from the racetrack. I think that I can suppress my homicidal urges as long as the problem’s mostly limited to weekends.

But if the economy continues to suck, and the track goes under? I won’t be sad at all. His business will be just one more non-essential service to close down, which is what one can reasonably expect with the current economic conditions. If he doesn’t have a backup plan by now, he’s obviously not paying attention.

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“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
-George OrwellAnimal Farm