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Jerry Zezima

The Buzz on Beeps

By Jerry Zezima

If left to my own devices — the phone, the computer, the washing machine, the dryer, the dishwasher, the house alarm, the microwave, the doorbell camera and even Alexa, the digital voice assistant — I would run them all over with my car because they won’t stop beeping.

But then the car would start beeping and I would have to abandon the idea of silencing my inanimate tormenters and simply surrender to their incessant electronic nagging.

That’s what I did when my cellphone erupted in a brief burst of beeping during the recent test of the Emergency Alert System.

Like millions of other Americans, I was warned about the test and worried it would be so maddening that I would be unable to call for help because, of course, the phone was beeping.

That it wasn’t so bad meant I have accepted the sad fact that I am being bombarded daily with beeps, buzzes, rings, dings and other annoying noises.

Not a moment goes by that some device or appliance doesn’t go off.

The phone is worst offender. I am now convinced that Alexander Graham Bell should have been arrested for disturbing the peace and incarcerated in a cell with, yes, a cellphone that beeped and dinged so much that he had to call his assistant, Thomas Watson, and cry, “Watson, come here, I want you to make it stop!”

To which Watson would reply, “Text me.”

And then hang up.

Bell would be both amazed and distressed by the fact that his invention is seldom used for talking anymore. If you want to call someone, you have to send a text, which entails typing a message. This happens so often that humans will soon be extinct because our opposable thumbs, the reason for our advanced development, will fall off.

At least we will no longer be subjected to our phones dinging with texts or beeping with irritating ringtones.

For now, however, we have to endure the seemingly endless auditory intrusions. And putting the phone on “silent mode” does little to alleviate the problem because you can still hear it vibrate, which makes the whole thing a mute point.

But the phone isn’t the only guilty party. Our washing machine plays a little jingle when the laundry is done. Here it is: “Doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-dooooo!”

And that’s just the first part. After the second part, there is a pause, followed by the grand finale: “DOO-DOO-DOO!”

Not to be outdone, the dryer regales us with an electronic song I call “Dryer Beware,” because it goes off when I am watching TV and am tempted to stomp into the laundry room and kick the stupid thing to death.

The dishwasher is no better. It beeps when you turn it on and plays its own song when the dishes are done. It also beeps if you accidentally lean against it. This happens even when it’s not running.

Then there is the car. It beeps until I have put on my seatbelt. It beeps when I back up. It beeps when something — a car, a bird, a falling leaf — is approaching. It beeps when my left front tire goes exactly one millimeter onto a road stripe while I am changing lanes. It beeps when I turn off the car. And it beeps when I lock the vehicle. If I don’t, it will beep. Then it will beep again when I get back in the car and start the whole routine over again.

I would drive the car off a cliff, but: (a) there are no cliffs where I live and (b) I would be in it.

Other machines and gadgets have added to the relentless assault. The only answer is to set fire to the house and destroy them all. With my luck, the smoke alarm will be the only device that doesn’t work.

— Jerry Zezima 

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service, which distributes it to newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of six books, Leave It to Boomer, The Empty Nest Chronicles, Grandfather Knows BestNini and Poppie’s Excellent AdventuresEvery Day Is Saturday and One for the Ageless, all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won eight awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing.

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