Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.

~ Kurt Vonnegut ~

Funny Things… Like Alarms

April 28th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 45 secs

Alarms are not funny things when you're trying to sleep!

Think of funny things and you don’t normally think of alarms, do you? Downstairs, Erdinc, our brainy exchange student from Istanbul is blissfully snoozing through his. But the funny thing is it woke us up! It seems teen boys around the world can sleep through the blare of a foghorn. While we seem to be attuned to every bell, ring, beep, and siren going off in the entire neighborhood.

When that all time classic, the car alarm, goes off in your area at some impossible hour, its endless blasts can turn even the sanest person into a gibbering, bawling mess. Presumably such alarms are set by the same people who so thoughtfully stick labels on their vehicle like, “You toucha my car, I breaka your face” and other “funny” things like that.

Same goes for the home security alarms that go for hours (or days) because the owners left town to escape the noise of city life. You start by saying, “Huh. Somebody’s security alarm is going off. Pretty loud isn’t it?” Fifteen minutes later, it’s, “Who are these nuts? Why don’t they shut down their alarm?” But an hour later, you are either:

  • Crying uncontrollably
  • Plotting to destroy the alarm yourself, or
  • Rushing to your car to go somewhere, anywhere, away from the noise.

Yes, alarms are funny things all right.

Noises, alarms, in fact any repetitive sounds are enough to drive us mad. That’s why they’re used by some despicable agencies as tools of torture. No outward signs of damage; just a broken mind. Which makes me wonder whether appliance companies are taking tips from these organizations. Cute, funny things, like chirping electronic bird sounds, friendly whistles, and canned giggles are making their way into every room of the home.

When cooking is complete, the microwave beeps…and beeps…and beeps. The refrigerator burbles, clicks and gurgles. Then, if you leave the door open too long, it starts doing a two-tone bleep.  If the smoke detector decides it’s that time of the month, it begs you to give it a little test by pressing a button to let it shriek. This tells you it’s happy and you can relax. All of these funny things created for our convenience. How expedient.

But now we have computers, capable of making all sorts of sounds. Forget mobile/cell/handy phones with their rising wake up tunes and hums. Your computer will declare it’s starting up, shutting down, or just doesn’t get it; supposedly enhancing your lifestyle. So we’ve become accustomed to tinny trumpets, pops, chirrups, and dings. All sorts of funny things meant to engage our senses and get our attention. Like television, the “hey look at this” factor of frequent peeps, shrieks, and wails is starting to wear us down.

Aside from an acoustically padded room, what I propose is a master remote control. One that always stays in its proper place and lets you:

  1. Turn off the continual wow of forsaken security alarms with one showy finger press
  2. Shush all appliances so they just work, rather than instruct
  3. Mute other people’s computers (yours is not the problem), and
  4. Zap every outrageously loud TV ad, now bragging 25% more jingle to jangle you.
  5. Hush all the funny things that make incidental beeps, shrieks, and squawks, if only for a while. Like Microsoft’s infamous paper clip man, their vexing power needs deleting.

With a bit of say on the alarm front and a handle on the noise factor, there’d be less interruption to those trivial little funny things like:

  • Quiet conversations with the people we care about
  • Curling up with hot cocoa and a cool book, or
  • Having the peace to think and reflect as you get about doing.

If there’s a message from this situation it’s this: “What’s that? Is it my phone ringing? No wait, it’s your phone. Or is it an alarm? Whatever. Sorry, we’ll have to catch up later.”



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