You’re underground. You’re sitting in a comfy, tawny sofa chair, doing homework, maybe reading Dostoevsky in your funny but misinformed attempt at being self-referential — a student in Yale’s basement leafing through the existentialist musings of the Underground Man. Books, glass, open spaces and torturous isolation booths surround you. Silence reigns. All is well. Suddenly —


“Ah, what is that ungodly sound? This is a library! What is going on?”

The Bass ATM is the name of the enemy. The damned automated teller machine is at it again. But you realize it is not the machine’s fault. It’s that dreaded student who needs to take out money just for the sake for having the money. Bass is not the place for you to procure petty cash for everyday use, or some extra bills for the night-out you’re planning on having two days from now.

The beeping is gradual, punctuated by short periods of sonic relief. Still, the schlep using the ATM needs to type in amounts and make decisions via a tactile screen. Every press translates into a short, electronic high-pitched sound. This will be the closest you’ll ever come to Chinese water torture for the ears.

You cannot concentrate. You desperately wait for the nightmare of noises to stop. You shuffle around in your chair; you check your messages. You innocently creep on other people studying, wondering if there’s something wrong with you for getting increasingly irritated by the maddening symphony of bleeps while they sit there unfazed. No, there is nothing wrong with you. You want it to stop.


The beeping gets faster. The sluggish dullard making the transaction has yet to take the spewed dollar bills and his debit card; he’s too busy checking his iPhone to tweet about how strange and moronic it is to have an ATM in a library. The beeping keeps pulsating in your eardrums, like an auditory heart attack or some other sort of horrible aural medical novelty. This is not what you bargained for. Subterranean seclusion should be a backlash of academic pursuit, not a despicable acoustic Ludovico technique.

Alas, you just can’t take it anymore. This is when you leave.