Tuesday, October 23, 2007

RANT - A phenomenon I have recently noticed

...although I'm loath to put it out there as "hey, have you seen...?" because it usually turns out I have had my head jammed up my rear and haven't noticed something the rest of you have been laughing about for ages. So I'm slow and self-absorbed to boot. You're the idiot reading about it.
But I digress, and let me just apologize in advance because boy am I prickly tonight. I've noticed this strange phenomenon recently and I swear I never saw growing up or even in the past few years. So obviously I live in the big city, and one of its chief charms is the constant police and ambulance activity - it's like urban church bells. You're having dinner outside at St. Ex, or just walking down the street, and--hey, where's that siren coming from? Oh, it's over there, yup, there it goes - probably heading towards Howard or GW. No more than 30 seconds later, it is gone from our sights and our ears, continuing on its all-too-decent mission of serving, protecting, and saving lives. Everyone goes back to their entrees or their stroll down 14th, no harm no foul, right? Right??

Well, that's what's weird. Let's say for the sake of argument I've seen about 5 ambulances in the past 3 weeks - by no means out of the ordinary. What the hell is up with people sticking their fingers in their ears as though the ambulance is trying to dock directly in their external auditory meatus (see photo)?? When did we become a city of sissies who can't stand seconds - not minutes, seconds - of slightly-louder-than-average-city-din? I've started counting; I was just leaving Creme not 20 minutes ago and wouldn't you know, an ambulance rolls by, EMTs probably doing chest compressions on some poor old woman heading to Howard to be brought back to life, or maybe some cute little kid who needs a new liver. And I counted no less than five bratty annoying weenies I wanted to smack sticking their fingers in their ears and looking around like they just realized they stepped on a rat and it exploded in three pieces, like, oh my god the assault on my sensitive eardrums! It's an ambulance, people - do me a favor and grow a pair. And at that moment of looking around at the yuppie, toothless losers who have over-evolved to the point where they couldn't survive the common cold if they were in the medicine aisle at Rite Aid, I turned inward to my own personal Jesus and prayed and prayed that the one time one of these beings-bearing-no-resemblance-to-their-ape-ancestors-with-no-ability-to-cope-against-the-most-mundane-of-challenges needs an ambulance to get to Georgetown so they can get a brain or a pair transplant, the dedicated EMT looks out the window at all the other gutless wonders with fingers applied to ears and goes "wow, this siren appears to be hurting those sensitive souls out there! I'd better turn it off and just go with the traffic." And you get stuck behind a metro bus with 8 bikers needing to load their bikes on the front of the bus so they can get on. And they give the brain meant for you to a drunk homeless guy.

35 comments:

Jonathan said...

No offense, but people are being smart by covering their ears. The sirens are designed to be loud enough that people insulated in automobiles with music going can still hear their approach. Average decibel level for ambulances? 120 db. Time it takes to cause hearing loss when listening to something at 120 db? 9 seconds. Perhaps people want to save their ears for something more enjoyable than an ambulance siren.

for reference:
http://www.drf.org/hh_dictionary/noise_hearing.htm

Tim said...

ya, i'm totally a weenie. yep, count me in.

Brian said...

Can they control the volume in those things? Most of the time, I don't notice or mind a passing siren.

But sometimes they are just so exceptionally, painfully loud, and I feel like there must be some little gnome on the roof pointing the thing directly at my skull. I do cover my ears for those.

Joelogon said...

Tinnitus is fun. You'll find out.

David said...

I'm 26 and already have documented hearing loss. If I could afford those volume-sensitive smart earplugs, I'd wear them in the city at all times (while outside, that is). And yes, I bring earplugs to concerts as well.

So count me among the weenies.

DCMovieGirl said...

Yup, I'm a weenie, too...Who will be able to hear when she's an old lady.

Kim said...

Sirens don't bother me at all but I live next to a fire station so I think I've blocked out the sound.

Tom Joad said...

Well, my hearing has gone to pot, thanks to my iPod earbuds, so the sirens don't bother me, and even if they did, the earbuds are conveniently placed (as they are in many people I see walking around downtown) - at least, much more so than my fingers would be. I certainly sympathize that ambulance sirens have a painful decibel level - much higher and more damaging than iPod earbuds. Fortunately, I can't fit those ambulance siren horns in my ears, and I suppose distance dilutes the damage, if not pain, of the sirens, yes?

Grow a pair, and I don't mean ears...

Ears of Tom Joad said...

Tinnitus is fun. It drowns out the voices.

Anonymous said...

Fun rant, but count me in the wienie pile. Also one who thinks folks who suffer pain to be tough are kind of chumpy.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...I think you might only experience the full 120 dB if you are, what, on top of the speeding ambulance with your head inside the siren. And I would not recommend doing this for reasons not directly related to hearing loss. Sound intensity dissipates with the inverse square of distance, so sitting in a restaurant tens of meters away means the siren would easily drop to a level that would be drowned out by the whining from some of the commenters here. Go to http://www.numericalexample.com/content/view/18/33 to figure out how loud the sound would be in the hypothetical case in which you were not on top of the speeding ambulance with your head inside the siren. You can even change the dissipation coefficient if you want--what fun! If you were just 30 meters away (assuming the original 120 dB were measured at, say, 1 meter), the sound would dissipate to 90 dB, meaning you would have 2 hours 31 minutes--not 9 seconds--before you experienced the claimed hearing loss. Oh, and I *know* someone didn't call 14th Street Girl "chumpy." This from someone who spells weenie "wienie."

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sildenafil citrate said...

thanks to my iPod earbuds, so the sirens don't bother me, and even if they did, the earbuds are conveniently placed (as they are in many people I see walking around downtown

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