Plague of Car Alarms

I know, I know — I didn’t move to the city for serenity and monastic silence. But still, it does seem as though car alarms have been a particular nuisance recently in my neighborhood. (This seems odd to me. Aren’t car alarms over? Passé? They seem so … nineties.)

Just about a week ago we suffered through several nights punctuated by the sound of one of those alarms that modulates its way through a series of increasingly annoying variations:

bee-boo, bee-boo, bee-boo, bee-boo
beeboobeeboo, beeboobeeboo, beeboobeeboo, beeboobeeboo
beeboobeeyoop, beeboobeeyoop, beeboobeeyoop, beeboobeeyoop,
booOOooOOoo, booOOooOOoo, booOOooOOoo, booOOooOOoo,
beebeebeebee, beebeebeebee, beebeebeebee, beebeebeebee

And so on, in a seemingly infinite loop.

This morning we were disturbed by a new alarm, which went off at about 6:30 right outside our apartment. This was no cute alarm, attempting to impress with its eclectic yodelings. This was a brute force alarm, simple, emphatic, and very, very loud: HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK! Over and over and over and over and over again. Bellowing like a wounded bull, perhaps because a butterfly wing disturbed a mote of dust that caromed a micrometer too close to one of its delicate sensors …

(Just for the record, the offending vehicle was a white Jeep 4×4, Washington license plate 885-LEE. Probably a USPS surplus vehicle, since it had what appeared to be zip code numbers on the front and rear bumpers — FYI, 05859, which would be Troy, Vermont. And a Burton Snowboard Co. sticker. Dude. So. Not. Cool.)

Seattle does have a noise ordinance, but it apparently exempts car alarms so long as they do not go off for more than 30 minutes at a time. And what good does that do? As we all know, the true awfulness of your classic nuisance car alarm is that it goes off for five minutes every hour throughout the entire night.

As opposed as I am to gun violence, I have to admit that I nevertheless felt a thrill of satisfaction when I read a recent news story about David Owen Rye, an L.A. man who shot a Toyota Camry three times with a hand gun to silence its car alarm.

Seattle, of course, isn’t L.A. A month or so ago I was walking to the Broadway QFC on a bright, sunny Saturday and heard an extremely loud car alarm off in the distance. As I got closer to the QFC, the alarm got louder and louder. When I reached the street the howling car was parked on, several people were standing around it, shaking their heads. As I passed, a woman holding a bag of groceries announced emphatically that it was not her car. When I returned from shopping, the alarm had stopped and the people were gone, but stuck under the windshield wipers were several hand written notes and, oddly, but somehow very appropriately, a large green onion.

5 Comments so far

  1. josh (unregistered) on August 25th, 2005 @ 10:58 pm

    you’re anti-Burton?

  2. skye (unregistered) on August 25th, 2005 @ 11:16 pm

    That green onion — it wasn’t a wrapped scallion was it?

  3. eldan (unregistered) on August 26th, 2005 @ 10:42 am

    I wish the city would just go ahead and ban car alarms. Do they actually stop any thefts, when everyone just sighs and ignores them anyway?

    As for the continual honking, that may have been something else. My car is equipped with a ‘panic button’ on the remote that makes it do that. It’s so incredibly annoying, and so easy to trigger by accident, that I’ve just removed the remote and gone back to the seemingly antiquated method of actually putting the key in the lock to open the door or trunk. I wish the stupid manufacturer had just provided a way of disabling that feature, but I can’t find one.

  4. native (unregistered) on August 29th, 2005 @ 6:49 pm

    pays any attention to car alarms.
    except the people that they annoy.
    I wish someone would invent a “car-alarm stopper” that would work on all frequencies, instantaneously.

  5. sp (unregistered) on November 3rd, 2005 @ 8:49 am

    They’ve always annoyed me to the utmost, also, but… since moving to Seattle, I’ve had my car broken into 4 times and stolen once. I’ve lost a lot of time/energy/money because of it, and I’m not sure what to do about it. I’ve resisted an alarm through all of this, but I’m tired of worrying and scheming.

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