It isn't your imagination, the noise in some restaurants, stores and gyms is dangerously loud. The Times went and actually measured the noise in places like Lavo, Abercrombie & Fitch and Crunch and the decibel levels they recorded are actually, with long exposures, deafening. As in, so loud that making employees work in some of those places for more than three and a half hours is a breach of federal guidelines.

Of the 37 restaurants and stores the Times checked out a third of them had dangerous-to-your-ears sound levels. We're talking well above 84 decibels, which is what the Times recorded coming off a C train hurtling down the tracks. But there are some "good" reasons for all that noise: loud music scares away the olds and, apparently, makes people eat faster—especially when the music has high bpm. Cause if it is loud, you'll talk to your friends less and eat more (or shop faster). And open up that table for the next chumps.

While some of the places the Times visited claimed ignorance of the noise and the law, not everyone played dumb. "Are we manipulating you? Of course we are," restaurant and nightlife consultant Jon Taffer told the paper. "My job is to put my hand as deeply in your pocket as I can for as long as you like it. It’s a manipulative business."

The noise doesn't just bother patrons, though. It also bothers employees who have to work with it. "We can’t do anything about it," and A&F sales clerk said. "They want it to be like a club in here." Another said she would hide out in the stock room to escape the noise. Which is probably for the better, since all that BOOMBOOMBOOM could have serious long term effects:

Up to 30 percent of workers exposed to noise levels of 90 decibels or more over their working lifetimes can expect hearing loss, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Few waiters or gym instructors are likely to stay in their jobs that long. But noise exposure is like sun exposure. Different people have different susceptibilities, and too much of it gradually wears on the body until, for some, irrevocable damage is done.

But what do businesses care about their employees' long term health?

Of course, complaining about loud noises isn't anything new—the critic at the SF Chronicle has been bringing a decibel-meter to restaurants for years—but it is nice to know it isn't all in your head. As for what the too-loud places the Times found are going to do about it? Depends. Some of them promise to look into it immediately, some are not. It isn't like any noise violations were given to restaurants or stores last year—"all of the 14 noise violations issued by OSHA in New York City went to construction sites or factories." The only kind of noise from those places that the government cares about are the ones that bother the neighbors.