There is a ringing in my ear. It started on my drive home from work a few years back. At least that's when I first remember hearing it. I thought it was coming from my radio, a weird defect in my speakers. I'd turn off the radio but it was still there, ringing loud and clear. Crazy I thought. Where was it coming from. I tried the radio again but like before the high pitched tone continued. I rubbed my ears but it wouldn't go away. Turns out, It was in my head. In fact it's in my head now as I type these words, but now I understand it better. Back then it was just a weird ringing in my head. I googled it. Talked to others that had it. I needed to know why and how I could get rid of it. It was annoying and disruptive. Tinnitus they call it. An audiological and neurological affliction shared be 50 million Americans. Okay I don't feel so bad now. I wasn't the only one. But why me and why now? The experts offered no answers and there was no cure that I could find when searching every corner of the internet for information. There is nothing fun about constant ringing in you ear, in fact it's annoying and distracting. It sucks actually. It seems to come and go and usually happens when I'm watching tv or sitting quietly. Some say years of loud music is the culprit. Given the many concerts I attended in my youth that was a possibility but I wasn't convinced that was it given I hadn't been to a concert in 40 years. I racked my brain. What loud situation had I experienced recently that could have damaged my ears? I hadn't been to a concert in years and I didn't listen to loud music they way I used to. Then it dawned on me. A few months back t I was working on a series about Sandhogs, the construction crew that dug water tunnels under New York. There was this massive piece of machinery called the mole, a beast of metal the size of a locomotive. All day It was grinding through the toughest rock on the planet using four foot tall blades that chewed up granite like it was candy. The rock was pulverized into smaller bits and carried on a conveyer belt to waiting carts which in turn were pulled through the 3 mile tunnel where they were lifted above ground and hauled away. It was a remarkable process that made me think of the drug tunnels I had been in years earlier and if they had only had a machine like this how efficient they would have been. The mole was loud, very loud and they handed out ear plugs. Unfortunately for me i had to communicate with crew so earbuds weren't going to work.
I was around this machine enough to know it was worse that any rock concert. Louder than any guitar solo.