Wednesday, January 12, 2005

A Special Place in Hell, Part Three

During the recent Christmas shopping season I was walking through an enclosed mall parking garage, burdened with goodies for all my good little girls and boys. Thinking of little except getting out of the city before rush hour, a short blast from a horn brought me to full alert mode.

Almost losing my grip on the goodies, I wheeled toward the sound. Three feet from me was the grill of a large, black SUV, parked and newly secured. The driver was walking away, putting away her electronic lock do-hickey. Thankful to still be alive - have often thought I would meet my end in the wild-west traffic of a mall parking lot - and that I had found the men's room before leaving the mall, I continued toward my car. A passerby might have heard unpleasantries. This had not been the first time, nor, I fear, will it be the last.

Car horns were originally a safety device. It says so still in driving manuals. Teenagers quickly adapted them to signal one another, a primitive bonding or mating device. Fair enough. But this new use, to confirm to a driver that their vehicle is secure and fully alarmed, is, besides being quite annoying, dangerous. Instead of alerting those in the vicinity of the dangers of a large moving object, a blast from a horn may mean nothing of the sort. Or it might. And therein lies the danger, that we will one day guess wrong.

Did I mention that it is also just flat annoying? The world is already filled with too much man-made noise, much of it also unnecessary. This just adds to the din. Certainly coming home late at night and locking the car need not involve the neighbors within earshot. In short, this feature of modern automobiles needs further study, as my former Japanese coworkers would say when confronted with a half-baked idea.

The sad part is that with just a little more thought the same result, confirmation of security status, could have been accomplished without resorting to blowing the horn. A simple buzzer or vibrating device - like found in cell phones - in the do-hickey itself would accomplish the same result without involving aurally those in the vicinity.

We must make extra space in our Special Place in Hell this week because any idea this bad has to come from a committee, in fact, lots of committees.

Of course this would make sense unless the real reason of blowing the horn is to say, "Hey, look at me! I have a new vehicle with an alarm system." If that’s the real reason we would need to add much, much more additional space in our Special Place in Hell.

I feel better now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

SUVs suck in general and i'm not afraid to say so. they're right below loud motorcycles on my shit list of vehicles. and consider the stereotypical image of the driver of each type of vehicle - the cell-toting 5'4" soccer mom whose head is barely visible above the 'honking' steering wheel (that secret Voice is for you, dad) and the leather'd-up, bandana-AND-sunglass-wearing, no-fucking-destination noise polluter whose image is less unique to view than the lid of a toilet. i wish people would stop defining themselves by their cars. . .
. . . wait, does that mean i have to get rid of my personalized license plate?? damn, there's always a catch.