Sunday, July 6, 2008


Have you ever noticed how many things in life beep these days? Actually, I didn’t just notice it, we’ve lived in a beeping world for quite some time, but it seems seem to be ever on the increase. I don’t know about you, but I’ve started talking back to some of mine. It doesn’t make them stop, but at least I’ve had my say.

When I get in my vehicle, if I happen to put my keys in the ignition with my right hand before I’ve pulled the door completely shut with my left, a flurry of hysterical beeping begins. There’s real panic in the tone. And I say to it sarcastically, “Relax chum, I’m not forgetting my keys.” Then, if I happen to start the engine before I put my seatbelt on, more frantic beeping until I snap the belt in place. If I were to drive off not wearing the seatbelt, that beeper would never shut up! …I mean stop. BTW, I never drive without my seatbelt, ever, but there’s no telling the beeper that. After driving at night, if I take the keys out and the lights are still on, I get beeped. Well, maybe that’s a useful one. Besides, I don’t drive much at night, so that beep and I hardly ever meet. But for the rest of my nights, and days (yours, too, I’m sure) it’s beep city. The microwave beeps (Look at me, I’m done!). The oven beeps before I even put anything in it (Yoo-hoo, I’m ready!). The dryer buzz/beeps when it’s almost done, and again when it is done, very impatient (C’mon, get this load of stuff outta me!!). The washer, on the other hand, could care less about keeping me informed. And I’m grateful for that. Of course, I can’t forget to mention that one modern device (you can bet I don’t own one!) whose sole function in life is to beep: the beeper.

Some beeps may seem pointless, but some are completely baffling. Years ago I visited in a home where the fridge beeped if you don’t shut the door after a few seconds. This might be handy if you accidentally left it slightly ajar, but would make it very annoying for those times when you just have to stand there, staring at the contents, hoping for a bolt of inspiration. That fridge also had several other beeps in its repertoire. I think they all had something to do with the icemaker; I never found out. Ditto the steam iron. That beeped at me practically the entire time I was taking the suitcase wrinkles out of my clothes. It was on the correct setting, it didn’t need more water. I never knew what it beeping at me about. From the tone, I don’t think it was too serious, but it remains an unsolved mystery to this day. Even my host said she didn’t know.

A few beeps I must reluctantly admit are useful. I’m glad my cell phone beeps when the battery needs recharging. And I’m especially grateful the cordless phone base has that handset locater beep. If fact, I dearly wish the TV remote had one as well (I sense a lot of head-nodding in agreement out there). I’ve learned to be okay with vehicle back-up beeps. I used to think that, in most cases, if people aren’t smart enough to realize they need to pay extra attention around large vehicles, then maybe they deserved a Darwin Award, but I’ve mellowed with my advancing age. Truck beeps are okay. The rest of the “public” beeps may also be useful to some, like for security, but even if working in a convenience store was the best and highest paying job on the planet, I couldn’t stand listening to those long piercing beeps every time the door was opened. Think of it – on a day when you make a stop at a convenience store (door in, ATM, buy lotto ticket, cash register, door out), then go to the car wash (wash, then rinse, wax timer), the grocery store (all items over the electronic scanner, credit card swipe) – by the time you get home, only a small part of your day has gone by, and you’ve probably been beeped about 75 times. Seventy-six if you forget to take your keys out. Not only your ears, your complete psyche has been thoroughly beep-riddled. And you haven’t even fired up your computer yet! I don’t know what to tell you except, start talking back to those beeps (if you don’t already). It can be very satisfying to the psyche.

Phone photo-Wikimedia Commons
The Shriek by Edvard Munch from Wikipedia


Anonymous said...

Great observations of our modern age. My wife calls the microwave my jealous mistress. "Look at me, look at me".

Deborah Godin said...

LOL "jealous mistress", that's a good one!