Down on the Farm: Beepers
This season of gratitude, I am thankful for beepers. Where would we be without them?
The alarm beeps to get us out of bed. Otherwise, we might sleep all day. The washer beeps to remind us to put the clothes in the dryer. The dryer beeps to remind us to fold. Recent dryers are more persistent. If you don’t get there right away, they will beep again in five minutes. The microwave beeps to remind you to take out the mug of tea so you don’t find it there two days later, cold and dark. The oven beeps to tell you it has reached cooking temperature, and then it beeps when the turkey should be done.
The smoke alarms beep when the batteries are low. More importantly, they go into a full screech when the bacon has reached charred perfection.
The computer calls me back to the desk with a beep that I have an email from Nigeria that demands an instant response or I won’t collect the $18 million waiting for me in a numbered bank account. When the septic system malfunctions, it lets out a beep that will awaken the dead and scare the rest of us half to death. No waiting for morning to fix that one.
The garbage truck beeps so everybody knows it is time to run out with the garbage before the truck escapes and you have to smell rotting coffee grounds in the entry for two more weeks. Trains whistles beep to remind us that the economy purrs along and that when Christmas comes, there will be plenty of junk from China to buy the kids.
The car beeps when there’s only fifty miles worth of gas left in the tank. The gas beep has saved me sometimes, but other times I ignore it until the twenty-five mile beep. I haven’t yet heard if it beeps when you have zero miles left. Maybe it doesn’t figure it needs to. By then, it is too late.
Out here in Tucson, police sirens go off every couple of hours. It’s more a wail than a beep, but you get the point. The siren’s purpose is to wake up the coyotes so everybody can have a good howl. The coyotes awaken the dogs, the police helicopters hover overhead, and a general state of emergency prevails because some guy blew through a stoplight down on Speedway Avenue.
Now I have one of those very intelligent phones which beeps at the slightest provocation. Beep! Somebody in China liked the photo you posted on Facebook. Beep! Your stocks are going down fast. Beep! You have a dentist appointment tomorrow morning.
Fortunately, you can customize the beeps so you know why the phone has beeped without pulling the thing out of your pocket. At a restaurant, I overheard a man’s phone issue a cat screech. “Oh, that’s the wife,” he said.
The most bizarre beep on my phone came in the middle of the night last week. It was so loud I jumped out of bed.
It was an Amber alert. A child had been abducted. They have a system where every intelligent phone within 100 miles is notified, no matter what time of day or night. Our phones are now electronic milk cartons!
I consulted the internet. The victim is six years old. The abductor is her sixteen-year-old sister. She was last seen driving a gold Yukon. Big sister has no license. She was very upset the last time she was seen. Kids upset her, which makes you wonder why she was babysitting in the first place.
The other 53,000 people who were awakened probably thought the same thing. I went back to bed. Just as I fell asleep, the phone beeped again. It was the system just making sure that the first beep went through. In my slumber, I almost started folding clothes.
The beeper people didn’t beep again when the hunt ended, so I don’t know if they found the gold Yukon over at the boyfriend’s place or what.
You can shut off the abduction beeper on your phone, but what kind of a person are you then? And who will find out that you have shut off your abduction beeper? The NSA? The Google machine?
I can hear the newscast: “Bergeson’s poll numbers continue to plummet in the wake of allegations that he callously shut off his beeper while children were abducted twenty-five years ago.”
So, I left the abduction beeper on and went to check the microwave.
There was my tea from Tuesday, cold and dark.