Independence Day fell on a Sunday this year, so it was extra fun! (Insert loads of sarcasm into those last two words.) Because so many were out of work and school on Monday, we got to be bombarded by the sounds of fireworks for TWO nights, not just one!
(Insert even more sarcasm into those three words.)
Our across-the-street neighbors decided to put on a major fireworks show. As I had no idea how long the Sunday night show would last and my boyfriend and I were hanging out playing a puzzle game, I elected to stay inside and didn't watch. The next night, my boyfriend and I were trying to finish a movie so we missed seeing that evening's extravaganza.
When I say we missed watching and seeing, I want to make it clear that we did NOT miss hearing the fireworks. They sounded like they were literally shooting them right outside of my bedroom window.
I don't like loud noises; I haven't my entire life. As a child, I hated going to the city-wide fireworks show each year. I thought they were beautiful but just couldn't take the volume, especially at the finale'. I spent the entire show with my hands tightly clasped over my ears.
Normally, if this happened in my neighborhood, I would have put on headphones or earbuds and turned the music up. But since I was with my boyfriend and both times we had started something we wanted to finish, I didn't feel comfortable drowning out both the fireworks (a good thing) and him (a bad thing).
So both nights I endured... clenching my teeth, getting knots in my stomach, jumping at the loudest booms.
As they lasted much longer than I would have ever expected (who has that much money to spend on fireworks, anyway?), I had plenty of time to think as I prayed for them to be finished.
One thought that was pervasive during both "shows" was how I wanted to be the mean old neighbor who would call the cops. It's technically illegal to shoot fireworks in our small town, but I know many do so anyway. However, there are lots of illegal things that I used to participate in and hated those adults who were too serious for anyone's good. (Don't go too far with that - I'm talking about trespassing to get our only baseball or TP'ing a yard, not stealing a car.)
I decided I wouldn't be that neighbor. I would continue clenching, knotting, and jumping for a little while longer.
Then they kept going. I had more time to think.
During Sunday night's display, I was thankful for a strange issue - that my cat was at the animal ER. Annabel is very skittish and even jumps up and runs when I sneeze or cough. Though I was very scared that we might lose her as she was very, very sick that morning, I consoled myself with the thought that at least she wouldn't be subjected to this sensory onslaught.
Monday night she was home but wasn't completely well. Earlier in the day I thought about last night's fireworks and was so glad that she had missed them. When the insanity started back Monday night, I was upset - I wanted to scream and cry at the same time. My little cat was very fragile and I knew this would stress her out even more than her overnight stay in the vet hospital.
I almost broke my prior night's vow to not be the mean old neighbor when she ran and hid behind the couch. I wanted so much for those kids to stop and I didn't mind if they got in trouble in the process. But I also know how much fun it is for kids to shoot off fireworks and there was a part of me that hated to spoil their fun.
(Besides, it's possible the police wouldn't have helped and I would have still had to endure.)
Both nights' musings led to a very important issue - when does one person asserting their rights trample over another's? On one hand, I had the right to have a quiet evening at home. I had the right to not have to fight a panic attack over something I couldn't control. I had the right for my sweet kitty to not have to stress out so much she couldn't heal.
But those kids also have rights. Leaving out the whole "illegal" part of this, they have the right to have fun as long as they weren't on our property.
This led to the debate I have within myself multiple times each week - when is it okay to tell another individual that they can't do a particular activity because of how it affects you?
- TV volume:
I live with my parents. They are at the age that hearing loss is pretty much a given. They watch tv a lot, LOUDLY - shows I don't like and some that particularly annoy me. But is it "fair" for me to ask them to always turn the volume down if it means they can't hear it?
We have sidewalks in our neighborhood and many of my neighbors have dogs. This means there are dogs in or near our front yard almost every day of the week, multiple times per day. Sometimes these dogs bark at or run towards my cat. I would love for them to not go in front of my house and terrify my anxious cat, but is it "fair" for them to not be able to walk their dogs on the sidewalk in their neighborhood?
I am what is called a "supertaster." This means I taste bitter and spicy more aggressively than most. I don't even like black pepper. The bitter aspect isn't usually an issue but there are many times that the food I am eating in a group situation is too spicy for me. But is it "fair" to ask the hosts beforehand for bland food? I mean, it's personal preference, not like a life-threatening allergy.
Being very overweight means seating can be an issue at times. The biggest fear related to this area is that I'll break one of those little wedding chairs or something similar at a gathering of friends and family. I would love to ask that whatever would be appropriate seating for me be used for all of the guests so I don't have to be singled out. But is it "fair" that those hosting have to pay more for seating or have to do more than they typically would have due to one person's needs?
I could go on with more examples but to get to my point... I'm an advocate for helping those who need special accommodations. I'm one of them. I've written several articles about the value of doing so.
However, every time I request a special accommodation I wonder if it's "fair" to ask. After all, I'll be inconveniencing someone else, even if it's in a tiny way, to get my way. How much should a person with a disability or someone with mental illness or an elderly person be able to ask for before it's too much?
It's entirely accurate that the fireworks the past two nights were anxiety-producing and could have easily led to a panic attack either or both nights. We had just spent a lot of money taking our cat to the ER, only to possibly have her hurt herself due to the noise. We had numerous reasons to ask them to stop shooting those fireworks.
I'm glad we didn't.
But the next time I have a dilemma like this, which will I choose? Asserting myself for what I or a loved one needs or keeping in mind that the other person(s) rights are just as important?
There's not a clear answer. There never will be. I just hope that as we keep standing up for the rights of those who need something special to have the best life possible, we don't trample over the rights of everyone else.
Please comment on what you would have done in this situation - would you have called the police or endured? Also consider following this blog, my Facebook pages (SpotlightonStigma and nowNovelPhotos), and my website (www.NovelPhotos.com). Thanks for your support.
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