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Just Write: Not every conversation should be for all the world to hear

Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Not necessarily a soft-spoken person, I've grown used to finding my “inside voice” at times.

Whether I'm thumbing through bookshelves at a library, sitting in a doctor's office waiting room or strolling the aisles of a store, I always have found it disrespectful to be loud in a public place that isn't a sporting event or a concert venue.

Perhaps it was my upbringing, as my parents always encouraged me to be respectful of my setting.

At the risk of sounding like someone on the cusp of telling a “When I was your age...” story, it seems being respectful of shared public spaces is a thing of the past.

Last week, while perusing clothing racks at a Macy's, another customer shared his entire conversation with those of us shopping.

I moved away but continued to hear his end of the conversation from several clothing racks away. I knew his plans for Easter and what he was hoping to buy in the store.

His bellowing laugh seemed to ricochet off the walls.

It was as if this man was lounging on his couch at home.

A store isn't necessarily a “quiet zone” such as a church, library or hospital, but it seems even hard-and-fast rules in those places have mellowed.

Once regarded as a place to quietly read and study, many libraries now allow patrons to hold conversations at levels they'd use at home or in restaurants.

Perhaps the most awkwardly loud place was at the last funeral viewing I attended.

I was somewhat appalled to find such a large amount of chatter.

Sometimes these gatherings bring together people who might not have seen each other in quite awhile, but at times, I felt as though I was at a backyard barbecue rather than 30 feet away from paying our respects to a man we all knew.

I'm not out to “shush” the world like the stereotypical librarian we all feared in school, but a little common courtesy knowing that not everybody wants to join your party can go a long way.

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or

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