I have observed that in a room with a group of people, the amount of noise from people talking rises. At first it's just a little bit, and then people start talking louder to overcome the increase. Soon, it's like being in a laundromat size dryer with a handful of ball bearings. The noise gets to be too much.
Some people are just naturally loud, never having learned the term "inside voice". These are the people who shout across a table all of the time. I know some people don't hear well, so you have to speak up for them. That's ok. I'm talking about the type A people that have to be first in the loudness category- turn it down, hey.
Right now, where I'm sitting (in a corner with no windows, facing a door), I can hear five or six conversations at once. There are also occasional noises from the kitchen, fries that are ready and the drive thru window demanding attention. From the ceiling comes dance music that's not loud enough to overcome the conversations, but loud enough to make the noise level higher.
Sometimes, the TV's add CNN's narrative to the sound level. Tonight they're silent, thank goodness.
The sudden, unexpected sound of metal chairs being dragged across the stone tile floor in any other environment would be reason to worry. I try to settle for just annoying, but I still jump. It takes a few minutes to convince myself that it's not the sound of bad things.
Kids screaming I can't handle. People ask me why I am so against ever having kids-- that's why.
I can usually only stand being here for a little while before getting anxious. I'm trying to tolerate it; exposure therapy, perhaps. I'd like to think I'm getting better at it, as I'm able to concentrate well enough to write this. I take progress where I can get it.
I'm still fidgety though. My heart is beating faster than normal, and my muscles hurt because I'm holding them tight. I really want to get the hell out of here, like now.
Which is exactly what I'm going to do.
To everyone else, it's just McDonalds. Not to me.