Noise

Brian James Lewis

This morning I woke up to two birds mimicking car alarms. They had it down perfect. One bird was doing the more European “Beew beew beew!” and continued into the exciter mode that most of those alarms feature. The other bird did the more meat and potatoes repetitive horn honk thing. “Honk! Honk! Honk! Honk!” Despite being annoyed, I couldn’t help but be impressed by these birds for learning what they hear daily in our neighborhood.

Every weekday morning, I am required by marital etiquette to start my wife’s car so that it can heat up to roughly the temperature inside an industrial toaster before she drives away in it. I know that it’s wasteful to leave a car running for fifteen minutes just to warm up the interior, but that is what my wife demands. If you want to argue with her first thing in the morning, I wish you luck. For safety purposes, I’ll hide in the bushes until she drives away, and then call an ambulance to scrape what’s left of you off the ground.

My desires in the morning are to drink coffee and avoid any kind of argument. To do that, I stagger out to the car in my highly stylish winter morning attire of pajamas and large boots, topped off by a huge jacket. As I approach the car, I yell and hit the clicker on the key fob. I always yell when I’m going to start any of our vehicles because there is a very high concentration of feral cats in our neighborhood and the last thing I want to do is get one of them caught in the engine. Nobody with a dead cat under their hood ever has a good day.

Once inside the car, I turn the key, which results in the car starting and a blare from the radio. “Come on down to Ralph Burns Toyota! We got over four thousand cars! That’s FOUR THOUSAND CARZZZZ!” Why do car ads always shout at us? Do they think we’re hard of hearing or incompetent? “JOE BLOW AUTO HAS GOT YOUR CAR IN STOCK RIGHT NOW! YES, NOW! AT SIX IN THE MORNING!!!” Maybe they do it to tear our eyes away from the plethora of electronic devices most people have going even if their trip only consists of driving three blocks total for milk and a box of doughnuts.

The laws against texting don’t seem to be accomplishing much. To avoid it, the texters are just keeping their phones in their laps or on the passenger seat. I’m not sure which is worse, a person looking at the road with a phone near their face, or a person barreling down the road while staring into their lap. Neither is a good thing, but at least the person looking straight ahead might have a slight advantage.

While phones are bad, don’t even get me started on the minivans that are rolling entertainment centers! The driver is trying to watch the DVD screen over his head while the GPS navigator shows and tells him where to go. His passenger is poking her phone in his face with a fun picture on Facebook and his ten-year-old daughter in the backseat is gasping at her tablet and saying, “Uh-Oh! That’s not supposed to happen!” That person is beyond distracted and is driving on reflexes alone.

This is something that old people can’t fall back on. If they get confused in their own homes, their chances aren’t going to get any better in a moving vehicle. Throw in a cell phone and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. What’s the deal with old people and their phones, anyway? They never let a call go to voicemail! They might be going around a traffic circle, or in line at the grocery store. It doesn’t matter. They just whip that baby out and start talking as if they’ve entered a private phone booth. “Hullo? Hullo? Oh hiya, Ralph. How’s your nuts today? Hurting? You sure you’re not just sitting on them? Ol’ Burt Sullivan found out that was his problem! Pissing blood? Well, that’s no good!” This can go on for a significant amount of time. As the cashier attempts to get the man’s attention, the old guy gets all testy. “Hang on Ralph, some stupid kid is asking me for money!”

Apparently, old people don’t trust technology to transport their voices loudly enough, so they usually bellow into their phones. While it can be entertaining at times, there are moments when it can be downright disgusting. I’ll never forget the woman in the booth behind us at the Blue Dolphin Diner telling the person on the phone a very graphic account of her venereal disease problems. “There’s so much pus and it smells soooo bad! I’m all itchy too!” She had me shouting for the check and telling the waitress very firmly that I most certainly did not want any banana cream pie for dessert today!

I usually just listen to music while I’m driving my car. Mine is old enough that it plays CDs and cassettes. Hey! How about that for cool? Yeah, I’m not real modern. Most of the time things go fine. I listen to music, drive, and usually get where I’m going without incident. But problems come along when I need to change a CD or cassette. Sometimes the player isn’t ready to let them go and there’s a bit of a wrestling match as the light turns green and people honk their horns to make me get going. I respond by throwing the offending CD out the window and turn on the radio instead. The Pop music stations where I live are pretty sad and seem to have a fixation on Justin Bieber songs. So I suffer through some sort of whiney whispering, hoping that the next song will be by Meghan Trainor, but instead, all I get for my trouble is:

“C’MON DOWN TO ROD’S ROCKIN’ RIDES FOR THE SALE OF A LIFETIME! NO DOWNPAYMENT REQUIRED! FREE HOT DOGS AND BALLOONS FOR THE KIDS! THIS SATURDAY ONLY! COME ONE, COME ALL, TO ROCKIN’ RODS AUTO MALL! ALL YOU GOTTA DO IS…Click!”

Ahh! Listen to that silence. Isn’t it wonderful?


About the Author

Brian James Lewis is an emerging writer of prose and poetry who is a member of the Academy of American poets. His work has appeared in Third Wednesday, The Iconoclast, and multiple issues of Trajectory Journal. His poem Garage Sense can be read on their site's editors picks section. Besides creative writing, Brian writes book reviews for Hellnotes, The Horror Review, and Damaged Skull Writer. When not writing, Brian repairs vintage typewriters. Keep up with Brian @skullsnflames76 on Twitter!