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Lost in Suburbia classic column: Speak softly and carry a big leaf blower

Tracy Beckerman
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Cheboygan Daily Tribune

Columns share an author’s personal perspective.

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One of the things my husband and I were really excited about when we moved out to the suburbs was the peace and quiet. When we lived in the city, we would routinely be woken up by the sounds of glass recyclables being smashed into the backs of garbage trucks, fire truck sirens, car alarms and people yelling at all hours of the night. Even though we had both grown up in the suburbs and we knew what to expect, somewhere in our sleep-deprived minds we got it into our heads that it would be much quieter in the ’burbs. So we moved. And the first night in our new house, I woke up to the sounds of glass recyclables being smashed into the backs of garbage trucks, fire truck sirens, car alarms and 10,000 lawn mowers blasting through the neighborhood.

I rolled over and glared at my husband. He glared back.

“It’s actually louder out here,” I said to him.

“Well at least there are no people yelling in the street,” he responded.

“How can you tell,” I wondered. “The lawn mowers would drown them out.”

Eventually we got somewhat used to the trucks, sirens, alarms and lawn mowers. Then summer rolled around and the cicadas came out.

“What the heck is that?” I yelled to my husband over the whining pitch of chirping cicadas.

“I think it’s the 11th plague,” he said as one of the prehistoric looking insects dive-buzzed our heads.

I’m only slightly more tolerant of noise than I am of gigantic flying bugs. So, when I was assaulted by both, I did what any rational suburbanite would do: I ran screaming into the house and pulled the covers over my head. At least it was quieter that way.

Just as we were acclimating to the cicadas, the construction started. Apparently the housing boom was still booming … loudly.

“Are those jackhammers?” I yelled to my husband.

“I can’t hear you over the jackhammers,” he yelled back.

Fall arrived and the leaf blowers kicked in. Construction continued. Garbage trucks and fire trucks kept doing their thing. The din was deafening.

“I’m so glad we moved out here for all the peace and quiet,” I shouted to my husband.

“WHAT?” he shouted back.

Then winter set in and suddenly everything stopped. It was actually quiet. Very, very quiet.

“Hallelujah,” I cheered as small flurries of snow drifted down from the sky. “Finally we’ll have some quiet around here.”

My husband looked out the window at the falling snow that was starting to accumulate on the driveway.

“Wait for it,” he warned.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Wait for it …”

“Wait for what?” I wondered.

Suddenly the sound of 10,000 snow blowers kicked into gear.

I sighed and rolled my eyes in defeat. “I miss the city.”

My husband cupped his ear.

“WHAT?”

This is a repeated Lost in Suburbia column, which has appeared in GateHouse Media newspapers since 2008. As Tracy Beckerman’s main column is shifting focus - her kids are grown and she has moved back to the city - we are rerunning her earlier work for readers who may have missed these the first time around. You can follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LostinSuburbiaFanPage/ and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tracybeckerman.