On my third day in treatment I finally made the mistake of deciding I could handle the noise in the dining room. I followed Shelly through the lunch line and tried to lip read her over the noise. It looked like she was explaining where to find things like napkins and condiments as I followed her index finger each time she pointed to something new. I finally gave up trying to communicate with her at all after I could have sworn she said something about corn. I looked and didn’t see any corn.
We took our seats with the Silver group (everyone had to sit with their assigned group at designated tables) and I managed to put away about three bites before I decided I’d had enough. I tossed my food in the trash and walked out. I took the noise personally. I found it intensely invasive and it infuriated me. However, that night I decided to give it another shot and went back to the dining room for dinner. I don’t know what possessed me to make me think this was a solid idea.
If I got in a bite to eat, fine, but my main ambition was to discover the source of the noise. I was on a mission. I surveyed the room from our table and within about 30 seconds I honed my focus in on one table about four tables over from ours. I’d found the source. Those were the people I wanted to strangle! I decided to introduce my issue to staff. I figured it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to address the group myself considering I was in withdrawal and felt like a seething, maniacal bitch.
“Hi!” I yelled to the staffer above the noise at the table where we signed in before grabbing our food trays. “Does it seem a little loud in here to you?” He was a little guy and his name tag read ‘ERIC’. “What’?!” He yelled, leaning across his table and directing one of his ears toward me. “It’s loud in here, Eric! Don’t you agree?!” “HI!’ He yelled, smiling. “It’s always loud in here! What’s your name? Aren’t you new?” His breath smelled like corn. “Jennifer. Yeah. I’m new. Hey, do you think the noise level in here is acceptable right now?! Do you think the yelling and insane laughter and the music coming from that table over there is acceptable?!” I yelled, pointing to the loud table.
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 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 dining room. Maybe he was new.
“Are you new, Eric?!” I bellowed. “No!” He answered. “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 practically scream at each other just to hear each other and I’m nearly in your lap?!” Please take care of that!” I pointed again at the loud table…
The above is an excerpt from my memoir, Saturation.