On Sunday, December 20, we had dinner at your restaurant but had to leave before we could order desert and coffee or relax after our dinner because one loud woman in a party of four would not stop her loud talking. Her loudness wasn’t helped by the annoying and grating tones in her voice. She had an unpleasant voice that she used in a loud manner. We had to leave.

One of the top rules of etiquette is to be quiet in a restaurant so you don’t annoy other patrons. The loud woman failed to observe that simple rule. Everyone with manners respects the fact that there are other people around them and therefore they keep their voice low. Not the loud woman who not only talked loudly, she talked incessantly making it difficult for anyone in the entire room to relax.

The waitress was advised the woman was annoying but she simply smiled and did nothing. She could have asked the woman to lower her voice. Your dining room is not an outdoor picnic.

Quiet is necessary for proper digestion. After spending extra money to have food professionally prepared and served it’s particularly annoying to be constantly upset by loud talking which is taken subconsciously by the body as a signal to be alert. Being alert makes the muscles tighten up and the body becomes ready for danger. This is no laughing or trivial matter as food is not digested when the stomach is tense because of possible problems. The body goes into a fight or flight mode and the resources of the body intensify the alertness which begins by shutting all non-essential activity. It’s a biological and physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. Loud noise triggers flight or flight until the danger is past. A loud noise can be the first loud word from a noisy diner. A second word is an additional loud noise and so on until the loud talking simply overwhelms the other diners. The restaurant loses business as nearby diners are forced to leave to get some peace. Who would want to continue to suffer by staying for dessert and coffee? No one.

Imagine a firecracker thrown into your restaurant. Everyone would be frightened and would stop eating until they found out what was wrong. Same for your loud talking woman who wasn’t told so lower her voice.
Getting technical but staying on the point, fight or flight causes the adrenal medulla to produces a hormonal cascade that results in the secretion of catecholamines, especially norepinephrine and epinephrine. The hormones estrogen, testosterone and cortisol, and the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, also affect how organisms react to stress so the body is sub-consciously arranged to stop digestion until the stress-inducing noise is removed. In the case of your loud customer, the stress continues until we had to leave to protect both our body and our sanity.

The fight or flight response is recognized as the first stage of the General Adaptation Syndrome that regulates stress responses among vertebrates and other organisms. My wife and I are vertebrates and we had no choice in reacting to the loud environment.
That’s not all the loud talking did. When it hears a loud noise the body starts to respond and puts itself into a stressful state of alarm. Physiologists define stress as how the body reacts to a stressor, real or imagined, a stimulus that causes stress. Acute stressors affect an organism in the short term. The General Adaptation Syndrome is a profile of how diners who are subjected to loud talking respond to stress. It’s characterized by three phases: mobilization, resistance and exhaustion. In the mobilization phase the body reacts with heightened sympathetic nervous system activity. In the resistance phase the body attempts to cope with the threat. The exhaustion phase, which occurs if the organism fails to overcome the threat and depletes its physiological resources is the final phase, We avoided exhaustion by leaving your restaurant.

Resistance is the second stage of the General Adaption Syndrome. It causes an increased secretion of glucocorticoids which play a major role in intensifying the systemic response—they have lypolytic, catabolic and antianabolic effects: increased glucose, fat and aminoacid/protein concentration in blood. Moreover, they cause lymphocytopenia, eosinopenia, neutrophilia and polycythemia. In high doses, cortisol begins to act as a mineralocorticoid (aldosteron) and brings the body to a state similar to hyperaldosteronism. If the stressor persists, it becomes necessary to attempt some means of coping with the stress. Although the body begins to try to adapt to the strains or demands of the environment, the body cannot keep this up indefinitely, so its resources are gradually depleted.

As we left the restaurant we began to feel better. The stress had been removed but there were lingering after-effects. The high glucose, fat and aminoacid levels in the blood from the loud woman are used by the body to repair the stress-induced damage with anabolic reactions, restoration of homeostasis and regeneration of cells. The result of the General Adaption Syndrome can manifest itself in obvious illnesses, such as peptic ulcer and general trouble with the digestive system (e.g. occult bleeding, melena, constipation/obstipation), diabetes, or even cardiovascular problems (angina pectoris), along with longer term clinical depression and other mental illnesses.

We have enjoyed the dining experience at your restaurant for years and will not let the loud woman keep us away. In the future we hope the above information will be useful to verify why loud people should lower their voice, ….. or eat outside.

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