Saturday, April 5, 2008

Silence can be Golden

Although I do most of my writing in my home office, I like to start off chapters at the library. There’s something very motivating in hearing the tapping of keys all around me. At the Bibliothèque nationale in Montreal, there are 200 work stations for those who want to surf the Net or use a computer. Today a middle-aged man sits down with a young female friend across from me. They are having a conversation.

In this section of the library, every sound is magnified. Users require absolute silence. Many are students working on papers, while others have projects like mine.

The Chinese woman next to me holds a finger to her mouth and says, “Sh-h. No talking!” He nods but then continues the conversation. Now a woman two rows away walks over, glares at him and reminds him that this is a silent area. He nods to her as well but keeps conversing with his friend, who answers in monosyllables.

I, too, am now having trouble focusing on my writing. I watch as a young man goes over to the troublemaker and tells him that he is disturbing everyone here. Perhaps he would like to leave? The offender is muttering now. The young man strides over to the attendant and points him out.

One more word and the man will be kicked out. Mercifully he shuts up. This is the kind of person who will play music so loudly that even the deaf can hear. It’s all about ego.

I am not too fond of rules and regulations but I see how they serve a practical purpose. Some people just won’t behave without them.