Letter to an anonymous screamer

Dear Screamer,                                                                                                                     I can’t be sure that it’s you every time. It’s probably not. But it sounds like you most of the time, and I have something to ask of you. Beg of you, actually: Please find somewhere else to yell at people.

I try to make lemonade out of your sour morning screams and tell myself they are a good excuse to start my day earlier, but I have to tell you I’d rather be given the choice of when and how to wake. Birds would be fine. Children playing. The pitter-patter of lizards sunning themselves on my tin roof. Even the caw-ing of neighborhood roosters. But must it so frequently be you a mere few feet from my bedroom window? I get it – 6am is a perfectly natural time to be chopping wood or revving your moto for an extended period of time, and I get that yelling is a common form of communication here. I’m getting used to those things. But you have to know that someone lives in this house, and you have to know that not everyone is awake before 6am. Granted, you Cameroonians are early risers, but even if I were wide awake before the air-raid siren of your yelling pierced my eardrums, it can’t have escaped you that you’re leaning on someone’s house.

I’m not asking you to change. It’s just an issue of proximity. Let me illustrate:

A certain amount of noise is to be understood due to the occasional foot traffic around here. For an unknown reason, though, you are most often in the areas within about 20 feet of my home when your forceful wailing commences. Often closer. Your favorite spot, apparently – as this morning’s aria demonstrates – is around the area represented above by the large X. This spot is also closest to the corner occupied by my bedroom. You may have noticed that my walls are indeed made of concrete blocks and not mud bricks, but they do not – as you may think – absorb sound. Combined with my tin roof, they actually amplify and distribute it throughout the rest of the house. I also hear you in other nearby spots (represented above by the smaller x’s), but less often. If you’re wondering how I can be so sure of your exact location, I must reiterate that concrete does not muffle sound, nor does the ½-inch gap underneath my front door or the screen windows on three of the four sides of my house.

I admit that I struggle on such mornings to hold in my irritation and not run outside in my underwear. If your yelling lasted long enough for me to get properly dressed and go outside to confront you, I would. I have tried this on three occasions, actually, the latest of which was this morning. But by the time I am dressed and reach my bedroom door you have stopped. And when I reach the outside to see if you’re still standing nearby you are either nowhere to be found or too far away to avoid yelling after an old woman.

Which actually leaves me to wonder – can you hear me rustling? And if so why do you immediately stop? Is it because you know you’ve woken me and that I’m getting up to tell you about it? If so that’s messed up, because it means that you know exactly what you’re doing and you’re just playing with me.

Please, please help me avoid becoming a crazy person and setting my alarm for 4:30am so I can catch you in the act. Do me a favor: Whatever you’re saying that requires yelling, say it earlier, later, or just more quietly. Say what you need to say before you’re out of normal speaking range, or wait until you’re within such range. Or if you’re just the kind of person who yells when you talk, do it farther away. Because I’m telling you, you and me are getting ready to have a really awkward conversation where I don’t care that I’m the crazy grumpy guy outside in his underwear.


8 thoughts on “Letter to an anonymous screamer

  1. Hilarious. Love the diagram. Hope you get to sleep in one of these mornings. Keep up the great writing! I always enjoy hearing what adventures you are up to. 

  2. You have your screamer, we have two yapping dogs two doors down Vernon Ave. We will be putting a gift in the mailbox – two muzzles. Failing that, options are earplugs, calls to police, yelling back, poison darts, firearms, etc. OK, so you don’t have some of those options. Have you identified the INTENT of the screaming? Is it directed at you, or just an unfortunate location and timing? Two different avenues of solution. Love the scientific analysis of acoustic properties, but that’s apparently not getting at a solution. Hmmmmmm….

  3. LOL. Love the diagram. Reminds me of late night study sessions in the DU library conference rooms where that poor white board fell prey to us dillusional paper writers. Good times.

  4. I just read your comments. They made me laugh but they also made me realize how different life could be in a new culture. It sounds like you are having quite the experience there!

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