As I approached the intersection of Airport Road and Garfield in Traverse City the light changed from green to yellow, and I came to rest in the left turn lane. It was the morning "rush hour" and it seemed like everyone had left for work at the same time. It was warmer than usual. My windows were rolled up, the air-conditioner was blowing chilled air and the radio played quietly in the background.
Suddenly, I thought I heard thunder but the sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Two lanes to my right were a pair of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, the riders revving the hogs' throaty engines. Based on the size of the two gentlemen astride the machines, I reconsidered looking at them too long. Besides, I always enjoyed the rumble of a Harley.
Before the light changed in our favor, I felt a vibration and a thumping noise from another source. I had heard it before and knew it wasn't coming from the bikers. A small compact car rolled up to the white line in the lane between me and the two tattooed gentlemen on the bikes.
The driver of the auto was a young lad, maybe in his late teens or early twenties. His hair was long, his baseball cap was worn backwards, and a cigarette hung from his lips. The noise emanating from his vehicle was deafening. It was a very deep base drum-like thumping. No vocals, no strings, no piano, just the deep boom-boom-boom that all of us have been annoyed by at some intersection while driving.
I wanted to give him "the look" and send a quiet message of my annoyance. Instead he puffed on his cigarette and looked straight ahead. I suspected that he knew I was looking at him and wouldn't give me the satisfaction of glancing my way. As the light turned green and he raced off, I wondered why his car windows hadn't blown out or at least cracked from the concussion blast of the sound system. The arrow finally turned green and as I made the turn, I could still hear the boom-boom-boom beating in the distance.
I had come to Traverse City to keep an appointment with my audiologist. I was scheduled to have my hearing tested. I originally had suspected something was wrong with our television. Perhaps due to its age, the sound control was wearing out. I also questioned if my wife's voice was getting weaker. She just didn't seem to be talking as loud as she used to.
As suspected, the test results confirmed that the problem was not with our TV and there was nothing wrong with my wife's voice. Indeed, it was my hearing that was the culprit. The audiologist tweaked my hearing aid a little and increased its volume.
I do have one piece of advice for any young person looking for a career: become an audiologist. With the boom-boom-boom of car stereos, ear buds, rap music, and loud computer games there is going to be a huge demand for hearing aids, including the young man at the stoplight.
Ed Hungness and his wife became full-time residents of Fife Lake in 2005 after Ed's retirement. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at P.O. Box 57, Fife Lake, MI 49633