Sunday, December 16, 2007

'Delicate Decibel Balance'

In 2006, the Library in the University of Limerick was dealing with a constant menace that threatened the very existence of students cramming the night before an exam. This menace was mobile telecommunication devices.

Before I left for my year of study in Pittsburgh, there were signs up at the entrance to the library saying things like "NO MOBILE PHONES!", "TURN OFF YOUR MOBILE PHONE!", "SILENCE AT ALL TIMES!" and other such statements that showed the establishment meant business. There were no pleases and thank yous on these signs, oh no. Anyone who dared to upset the delicate decibel balance knew the risks, but they dared anyway.

...Mostly because the only retribution you suffered was some minimum-wage earner looking at you disapprovingly as you gossiped away defiantly. The crack security-personnel were equipped with frowns, and goddamnit, they weren't afraid to use them.

Obviously, frowns alone does not a quiet library make. I'm not sure what happened over the year or so I was abroad, but when I came back, the new regime had made changes.

Drastic changes.

I can only imagine how badly things escalated that prompted such a radical overhaul of the system (maybe a security guard popped a blood vessel during a particularly intense frown-down), as the current arrangement targets the individual chatterbox with laser-guided-missile-like-efficiency.


'Phone-friendly areas' have since been established, where students 'can have quiet conversations', but only within the confines of this magical zone... That's it. That is the solution to the problem. Somebody probably even got a raise for it.

Perversely, these new rules tolerate texting, so long as the phone is set to silent. The constant clacking of keys that sound like termites tap dancing their way into your skull is no longer considered a noise offence, so enjoy those brief moments of respite as that girl with ten thumbs awaits a response from whatever jackass she's sending vowel-deprived messages to.

Other than the stairwell to the side of the building - phone-phriendly areas are located conveniently on every floor. In fact - here's a zoomed out view of the above picture.


Yep. The University is actively promoting the use of phones in the bathroom. I cannot list enough reasons why I think this is a bad idea. Even if you forgo the objections one would have from a hygienic point of view - what plonker is actually going to use the bathroom as a phone booth? Do you really need to take the call? If somebody is ringing to offer you a job, do you really want to risk them overhearing the distinct sound of a flushing toilet? Are you willing to explain to your mother why there's a man with a panic-stricken tone asking you to throw him some toilet-paper?

Consider urinal etiquette for a second - these bathrooms aren't exactly spacious. If you're the pacing kind, you're risking all manner of splashback, as well as some overly-zealous, underly self-assured guy kicking your ass for getting that bit too close to comfort during his shakeoff time.

Realising that such a system is now in place at the library has convinced me never to call one of my friends during his study time if I know he's a multi-tasker...

3 comments:

Sully said...

I had most of this written and saved online as of November 16, but it seems that once I got interrupted it took me a month to finally publish it!

Probably best I held off on this then... Don't want to get a name for myself as the guy who takes pictures inside bathrooms.

Nancy said...

Funny post Sul :D

Sarah said...

Nanc talks on the toilet in the library all the time....