Attack of the Killer Vac / by Courtney Mehlhaff

The woman who lives next door to me likes to keep a clean apartment. A very clean apartment. I know this because she vacuums every day for at least an hour, usually between 11:00 and noon. This seems just a bit excessive, even though she does have a potentially messy little tornado of a two-year-old (and possibly some OCD?) But it never really bothered me  . . . until she got a different vacuum cleaner.

This new machine does not emit a low, white-noise-like drone. It sounds, for lack of a better comparison, like a swarm of very angry bees. And it's SO LOUD. You can hear it throughout the entire building, including from the parking lot. It's the kind of high-pitched, whiny tone that worms its way so deeply into your brain that you can't remember a time when you weren't hearing it.

I should probably mention that I'm not good with repetitive noises. There would be no surer way to drive me insane than making a recurring annoying sound, especially one that I couldn't identify. There you go, future torturers. I handed you that one on a silver platter.

For example, not long ago I was enjoying a lovely afternoon when an animal (I'm assuming a bird) started screeching outside. It was piercing and unrelenting, and paced at regular intervals.

SCREEEECH!  Roughly a minute would pass.  SCREEEECH!  Another minute.  SCREEEECH! This went on for hours.  Hours.

It got to the point where I considered going out to track it down. But what would I do if I found it? If it was injured, I couldn't nurse it back to health. Alternatively, I couldn't bring myself to put a hand over its beak and slowly choke it out while whispering, "Shhhhhh . . .  shhhhh!"

I decided that soft-hearted people with no restorative skills should probably let nature take its course, and I resigned myself to hoping that something would just eat it. Or have sex with it. Maybe it was calling for a mate. In any case, I could offer no relief.

Eventually, the screeching stopped, as the vacuuming does -- as most noises do. Except my other neighbor's overly abundant cacophony of wind chimes. [shakes fist] Wind chimes!!! Soothing in a mild breeze, absolutely maddening in a winter storm. They should be sold with a warning label: May cause pleasant drowsiness or fits of rage, depending on weather. I like the sound of that.