Michelle Sieg

Waking to the sound of a car alarm

By - Oct 5th, 2009 10:45 am

It’s Monday morning, and I can hear it from my office just as plain as day — someone’s car alarm across the street is going on and on and on. Sometimes, it sounds a little earlier in the day or a little closer to lunch. But every day, at some point, I hear it. And I think I hear it much differently than other people because many of my colleagues have acknowledged that they’ve noticed it too. Noticed it? Seriously? I wish I only noticed it. Instead, I experience it as if the car were actually parked inside my auditory cortex.

So today, I set out to find the source of this annoyance, jot down its plates and call it into the police. After all, this has to be some sort of disturbance of the peace. And I’m really at the point where I believe the car’s owner deserves to be ticketed and the car itself towed far, far away. (Failing that, it should be pushed into the Milwaukee River sooner rather than later.)

I was greeted by a security officer who refused to let me climb the parking ramp in search of the unsub. “I’m sorry,” the guard said, making the “halt” sign. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was somehow protecting the identity of this car (which I was now picturing as a tan Toyota Camry whose incessant alarm and flashing parking lights were its only chance to stand out.)

UnscriptedPIC1I continued to plead my case, saying it was a matter of public sanity that this alarm be disengaged. I thought about describing how I imagine a Matchbox car driven into my ear canal every morning by some very ordinary (yet sinister-looking) man who parks, then kicks his own tire to activate the alarm. He then walks several blocks to his office, which is clearly out of earshot. The security officer assured me he’d already notified the parking garage attendant who was doing everything possible to get the owner to come deactivate the alarm. Defeated, I walked back to my office with the alarm still ringing out from what must have been somewhere around Level 2, near the north stairwell.

Then suddenly, I had a sinking feeling — what if this time the car alarm really did stop? What if the garage attendant actually did track down the owner? And what if the owner finally put a stop to the insanity? Then what?

You see, I’ve become very accustomed to hearing this alarm every day. And although it’s distracting, it’s also consistent. No matter what kind of day I’m having at the office, regardless of what’s going on in my personal life and with no regard for the weather, the car alarm persists. I think that’s how it is for people sometimes. We get used to things — even the stuff that drives us crazy. And sometimes, it’s actually our own dysfunction that needs to be rewired. In some ways, I realize that I’m the car’s owner who just keeps on parking the car too close to the wall, knowing full well that it’s going to trigger the alarm; who just can’t seem to find the time to get the car into the shop and get it fixed; or who simply doesn’t acknowledge that there’s a problem.

So many people have told me that they want to do this or that and that someday they will. I can relate because my list of want-tos has also grown over the past couple of months. I want to start eating better, calling my folks more often and finding a new church to join. Then there are the habits I want to stop (and boy, is that list long.) I don’t know if the car alarm is going to sound again tomorrow. If it does, I’m not sure how I’ll react. And if it doesn’t, I think I’ll enjoy the silence, even though it’ll take a little getting used to. But then again, so did getting off the couch and back into running, starting to paint instead of watching mindless TV and the list, ironically, goes on and on and on.

Categories: Unscripted, VITAL

0 thoughts on “Unscripted: Waking to the sound of a car alarm”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I can identify with this, only my pet peeve really is a pet…one or is it two? barking dogs holed up behind a fence on the property adjacent to and north Green Gallery East. Night and day, day and night..bark bark bark. I live a block to the east and have to endure this daily and nightly.

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