Eric’s smile faded as he looked from me to the loud table. “The noise level coming from their table is totally unacceptable, Eric!” I answered, for him. Eric blinked at me and said nothing. Why did I know what to do and he didn’t? Maybe he’d never confronted a group of unruly residents before. Maybe he was trying to decide for himself whether or not the noise level was unacceptable. Maybe he was trying to figure out how to escort me from the cafeteria.
Maybe he was new.
“Are you new, Eric?!” I asked. “No!” He yelled back. “You look confused, Eric. Here’s the thing. I can’t hear what people at my own fucking table are saying. Have you noticed that you and I are having to scream at each other to be heard while I’m practically in your lap?! I can’t stand much closer to you! The noise level in here is over the top! Will you please take care of that?!” I yelled, pointing to the loud table again.
His uncertainty and immobility unnerved me. I needed a confident, go-getter right then and it seemed I’d chosen the wrong guy for the job. Finally, he said, without yelling, but I lip-read enough, “Yeah, I can say something to them for you.” “Eric,” I said, “don’t say something for me, say something because they’re being too fucking loud!”
I watched him approach the loud table as I took my seat. I disliked his slouched posture and decided he looked insecure. He got everyone’s attention though, and the entire decibel level in the room dropped. This amazed me. But as soon as he turned and walked away, it rose right back to where it had been. No one gave a shit. Except me. Some guy at the loud table started strumming a guitar.
I snarled. “Fuck this shit.” I said to myself. “What?!” Yelled the woman across from me at our table. “I can’t hear you!” I had no doubt in my drugged-up head that I could succeed where Eric had failed. I confronted the noise and got down to business. “HEY! Excuse You!” I yelled from one end of the loud table. At least 25 people sat clustered around it – about one quarter of the total house population. There were residents sitting here that belonged to other groups.
The young guy near the middle picked away at his guitar between two young women – a blond and a curly haired brunette. These three were clearly the center of attention. Several residents made eye contact with me including music man, who stopped playing, and the two girls, while others ignored me or simply hadn’t heard me. So, I tried again. “Fuck me! HEY!!” I roared. This worked. It actually worked for the entire dining room. The instant quiet got my attention for a moment. Sweet.
“Didn’t that guy over there,” I said, pointing to Eric across the room, “Just ask you all to keep the noise down? Yes, he did!” I answered for them before they had a chance to answer. “I know he did because I asked him to and watched him do it!” I leaned over their table a bit and placed both my hands in front of me – for balance, mainly. “Why didn’t you take him seriously?!”
No one answered, so I continued. “You guys are being OBNOXIOUS! The noise level coming from this table is fucking RIDICULOUS and it’s PISSING ME OFF!” I was finding my rhythm here. “Do you realize that everyone at my table has to yell at each other just to be heard?! We’re all the way over by the doors!”
Several residents looked away from me, embarrassed, while others just stared. And then, as though on cue, about half the table, including Blondie and Curly Brunette, started defending their behavior simultaneously. However, Music Man immediately silenced everyone by simply raising one arm. I found this quite impressive. “We’re just having a little fun and enjoying each other’s company. Why don’t you ease up?” He asked me. He smiled and strummed a few chords for emphasis.
“Oh, yeah?!” I shot back. “Why don’t you ease up on your guitar pickin’ and muster a little fuckin’ consideration for the new people here, like me, who are detoxing?!” And then I tipped the scale before he could weigh in. “Oh, what’s that?! You didn’t get the memo?! YEAH, BUDDY – THIS IS REHAB! Some of us are on meds and going through withdrawal, and I for one don’t appreciate having to listen to your backup singers while I’m trying to eat! They SUCK!”
The above is an excerpt from my memoir, SATURATION.