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Beep Beep!
Noting the proliferation of alarms on modern machinery.
 


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Beep Beep!...          The door alarm went off as I walked out a store today. A security guard rushed to intercept me and asked if he could check my receipt. The cashier had failed to remove an anti-theft "tattletail" from one of the items I purchased. The guard quickly retrieved the "tattletale", apologized for my inconvenience but was curious why I kept walking even after the door alarm was triggered. I replied I knew I had done nothing wrong so I paid no attention the noises going on around me. The guard shook his head and went back inside the store.

           It seems all modern machinery is equipped with noisemakers that serve no other purpose than to annoy humans around them. It is as if machines must now call attention to themselves by incessantly beeping, chiming or whining like hungry fledglings until their existence is acknowledged by an obedient human. Computers, copiers, garbage trucks, pagers, even commercial french fryers beep to call attention to themselves. And don't forget to wait for the sound of the beep to leave a message....

           My new truck starts out my day by chiming the moment I put the key in the ignition. I know the key is in the ignition; I just put it there. But the truck feels the need to remind this stupid human that the key is in the starter. Successfully starting the vehicle sets off the next barrage of chimes because I have not yet buckled my seat belt or turned on the head lamps. My truck thinks I am an idiot, I guess.

           If I am so ignorant to not answer a call by the third ring, my cell phone reminds me with a high pitched squeak every twenty seconds until I listen to the message or crush the phone under the track of a Caterpillar, whichever option is more convenient. And Heaven help me if I forget to recharge the phone's battery. It always waits until 3:30 in the morning to begin its low battery alarm; a annoying beep loud enough to awaken this old man trying to sleep with two pillows over his head .... at the far side of the house...through two closed doors. Nothing will do until I get out of a warm bed to plug my cell phone into its pacifier.

           Every piece of heavy construction equipment now beeps incessantly. Forward alarms, reverse alarms, alarms for hoisting, alarms for lowering. The modern construction site now sounds like a pinball arcade on steroids. There are so many alarms that no one pays any attention; workers just raise the volume of their radios to drown it all out.

           So, for the security guard who had to jump to duty when his door alarm sounded, I hope this will help explain why I paid no attention to that noisemaker today. You see, I didn't get much sleep last night because my cell phone needed to be recharged, I didn't remove the key from the ignition fast enough to satisfy my truck and, besides, my ears were still ringing from all the noise at work.

I hope you understand...

2002.12.14






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