The Nice Movement

Dave Haste
By Dave Haste Last edited 130 months ago
The Nice Movement
Earphones in the bin

This weekend column is brought to you by the founders of Niceties Tokens, Liz and Pete of Team Nice.

42. Listening

Got on my train last night, listening to my iPod and reading a book.

From out of nowhere a man comes up to me and starts saying something to me. I take an earphone out and to my utter horror he says:

“Can you turn that music down?”

Oooh, he had a bit of a swagger to his walk and used gesticulation to show ‘volume down’ – like I was a complete idiot.

I mumbled, "Yes… err sorry" and turned the volume down. I swear I saw a look of smug triumph as he returned to his seat.

During the train journey I felt more and more humiliated – I wanted to leap up and say to him, “Hey, no need to look so smug, buster – I didn’t realise my music was so loud and I am a very, very, very considerate commuter – in fact I have an odd hobby called that takes up most of my spare time – which evolves around being a considerate commuter...” (I obviously am sane enough not have done that… though I am clearly finding writing about it cathartic.)

BUT – in the morning I realised after all that I was being horrible about this bloke for no reason other than what he did made me feel stupid. Well done to him. What he did made him a bit of hero for the rest of the people on the train.

I have learnt my lesson, I will buy better earphones and test the volume of them, and I should have a hearing test too…

But also:

1. As I had never thought that I was one of those people who played their music too loud, I wonder if most people who do play their music too loudly are oblivious to this too. Could you be at it without realising?

2. Is there a better way of getting someone to turn their music down that is less confrontational? Because if there was there would be more occurrences of it. And we wouldn’t have to suffer it so much…

As a short 30-year-old woman, I wouldn't be thought of as an intimidating looking stranger and so the man on the train was able to ask me – very politely – to turn my music down. But would the same guy have approached someone else? What about all the people out there who are taller, bigger, male-er, than I am, who are simply sitting 'quietly' listening to their music, innocent of malice… but just don't get approached.

How many train carriages suffer needlessly?

By Liz Akers

Last Updated 13 April 2008