Empty vessels

My primary school teacher used to tell the class, ‘empty vessels make the most noise.’ I was never sure what that meant. Miss Flood viewed questions from a five-year-old pupil as a challenge to her authority and a slight on her teaching ability. So, it was one of many things in childhood that I accepted without question and moved on with life.

Recently, I’ve come to understand and agree with Miss Flood. Perhaps it was the quiet isolation imposed by covid, or I’m just growing into the grumpy-old-man persona, but I now find loud people very annoying and empty.

As I type, I’m sitting in a quiet cafe. Most people are head down working on a laptop, except for a guy in his early thirties sitting several tables away. He is talking at full volume to his tablemate. The noise cancellation in my headphones can’t stop the barrage of sound. I now know the loud guy’s ‘good cholesterol is only 30.’ And he finds this very worrying. I don’t pay much attention to my own cholesterol level, so I can’t empathize. But, I guess, if

If I ever bump into him in the future, I will have a ton of ready-made conversation starters. I wonder if that would freak him out — an old guy he doesn’t know, asking him if his HDL has improved?

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Gerry McDermott

Gerry McDermott

Scottish by birth and American by choice. Trying to write more clearly, take better photos, and read instead of watching YouTube.