How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Letters to the Editor, Summer 2015

A view of Lake Tahoe in Washoe County, Nevada

A student from Lake Tahoe, Nevada wrote, "Earlier this summer, I had joked with friends that this was going to be my Summer of George - but I meant it in a positive way. Everything was looking great.
I was starting a three-month break from college and had enough money saved to take the summer off. This would be my first extended break in as long as I could remember - time to catch up on a mile-long "to do" list of projects, time for a little traveling, and time to just relax. Little did I know that a large portion of my attention was going to be stolen from me.

"I had never thought much about noise. In the summer you sometimes hear car stereo systems, or parties, and I live down the street from a fire station, so we hear sirens and engine breaking from time to time, but nothing that particularly bothered me. You can sleep with the windows open. If anything, I tried to be conscious of creating noise, playing music lower than I would have liked to. I was never on the other end of the conversation, asking someone else to lower the volume. But all that changed this summer, when my next door neighbor got a new car and started working a late swing shift.

"My neighbor would come home every night between 3:00 and 5:00 a.m. and use the remote to lock her car, confirming lock status with the horn up to 5 times, with the car parked 15 feet from my bedroom window. I'd always slept with my windows open and a fan going during the hottest months, but this noise was enough to completely wake me up. On top of that, my neighbor's horn would honk remotely and the car's panic alarm would go off randomly during the daytime, and we later learned that the neighbor's young child was playing with the remote. The neighbor was affronted when we asked if she could try to keep the remote out of reach so her daughter wouldn't actuate the horn. We backed off.

"I went on a two-week road trip, staying in several campgrounds in national parks. By now I was noticing remote horn noise where I hadn't noticed it before. I couldn’t understand why someone sleeping ten feet from their vehicle in a safe, congenial environment would need to lock a car with horn confirmation every ten minutes when they forget their water bottle or sweatshirt at one o'clock in the morning.

"It was Summer of George all right, but with a twist."

A Phoenix couple described a weekend in Sedona.

“We rented a cabin in a pristine, stunningly beautiful place. A neighboring guest had a new Camaro parked between our cabins. He honked whenever he left and honked whenever he approached the car. I asked the manager to speak to him about it, and he told her that he had no choice but to sound the horn to lock his car. And so he did – all weekend long.”

Another couple visited the Grand Canyon.

“We were dismayed by the honking sounds coming from cars arriving and departing from the parking lot at the north rim, and at the otherwise lovely lodge where we stayed. Such a beautiful, amazing natural wonder of the world. The noise diminished our enjoyment of our surroundings, all the more so in such a beautiful, natural setting. We couldn't "escape" horn-based alerts even at this beautiful national park.”

A musician from a Washington, DC suburb had a better experience this summer.

“I worked up the courage to speak with neighbors who were honking early in the morning - I took them a bottle of wine in fact, which they said wasn't necessary, but I wanted it to be cordial. They said they'd lock and unlock silently from then on."

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