Say What?

My hearing isn’t what it used to be. In ideal circumstances it’s still plenty good enough; I tend to like the TV volume a bit lower than my sweetie, for instance.

Add background noise and that changes in a hurry. My ability to filter noise from signal was never that good, I think (recalling people having conversations with bursts of static on their CB radios), but thirty-five years of rock and roll and twenty-five years of highway driving with the top down have taken their toll. Now when my sweetie is by the sink with the tap running I’m lucky if I can tell she’s speaking at all. Forget about understanding her words.

Recently I was on an airplane and every time I tried to speak with the attendant I had to repeat myself. I could understand her, but she couldn’t understand me. The difference? I was wearing noise-canceling headphones. Even with the big cans over my ears I could hear her much more easily, and so naturally I responded in a lower voice than necessary. A nice reversal of the person-with-headpohones-on-talking-loudly joke.

If I wore those big-ass headphones around the house, I’d probably miss fewer things that my sweetie said. I’d hear more while driving as well, though wearing those things would undoubtedly get me pulled over.

What I need, then, are nice little inserts like a hearing aid, but while hearing aids amplify the signal, these would simply reduce the noise. My hearing without noise is plenty good enough, thank you.

I mentioned in an episode a while back that if I ran an airline, I’d have all my on-aircraft personnel fitted for items like this, both for their health and for more efficient service on-plane. So this isn’t a brand-spanking-new idea. I just can’t find a product that actually does this. I don’t even think this is a get-poor-quick scheme. I suspect the pattern of my hearing degradation is pretty dang typical, and all the technology already exists to make these things. The market could potentially be huge.

So, someone make me my earplugs already!