Just SHUT UP, Awright?


Since when have we decided that it’s okay for our machine manufacturers to audibly harass us?

I’m sick and I lay down to take a nap. I sleep eight minutes then the phone rings. I wake up but do not get up. The caller leaves a message—and then the bloody damn answering machine beeps every thirty seconds. It’s like having a chain saw at work cutting through my spine. It goes on and on and on until I finally have to get up.

The person calling was a gentle woman who never, ever, would have walked into my bedroom and tapped me on the shoulder every thirty seconds. In fact, she has no idea that calling and leaving me a compassionate message has triggered this abuse. The telephone did it, not my friend. In further fact, my last answering machine did not BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. My last answering machine just blinked. I’m cool with blinking. I can close my eyes.

Then there’s the bloody damn microwave. It’s cooking, the phone rings, I take the call—and it’s an important one. The microwave finishes cooking and starts beeping every 15 seconds. Like I said, THE TELEPHONE CALL IS IMPORTANT. I know the microwave is done cooking. I have no problem with it sitting there for a few minutes while I take care of business. But the manufacturer has decided I’m a complete idiot and have to be beeped at every 15 seconds. My grandma fed four kids and a husband while cooking on a wood-burning stove and never needed to have anyone yell at her every 15 seconds. What is wrong with people now?

And then there’s my biggest bitch of all: car alarms. I live in the University section, wherein we have five hotels, four hospitals, four medical buildings, one university and one college in 6/10 of a square mile. And there are about 50,000 people, at least two-thirds of whom have driven into the area. And at any given moment there is at least one bloody damn car alarm going off and forcing about a thousand people to listen to it.

Let me tell you something very clearly: I don’t care if your car gets broken into. You don’t care about a thousand of us being disturbed so why should I care about your car? Where in the book does it say that you have the right to disturb me just to protect your valuable property? Figure out another way, dorkhead.

My bedroom is directly over a Crouse Hospital parking lot that has about three hundred cars. The owners of the cars are working inside a building three blocks away and they don’t hear their cars when they cry. Approximately once a week, a car alarm sounds, sometimes intermittently for hours. Call 911 and they ask a lot of demanding questions to which I have no answers. No, lady, I don’t know where it is! Have the police officer drive to the corner of University and Harrison and roll down his damned window! He can find it! Except, of course, that it’s never going off during the thirty seconds he spends looking for it.

My friend Diana Sponsler has a great idea: the alarm on every car should be connected to the driver’s cell phone. If your car is in trouble then it should call you, not me.

I would like a law passed that says no mechanical object can be designed to send out a repeating audible alarm. Every such object can have an alarm installed but it can only be activated by the owner. And if the owner activates it but does not respond to it within three minutes then the owner has to forfeit said object to be sold at public auction and have the proceeds spent on repaving the streets in the neighborhood where the car, phone, microwave or other object has been seized.

I want machine manufacturers to leave me in silence.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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