The Car Alarm

Written by Jester

The car alarm has been ringing for about 15 minutes now.

I'm living in an apartment in one of the largest and most populated cities in Canada, wearing the clothes I wear to bed. I'll spare you the gory details. Needless to say, it's the middle of January, and although it is way too warm for this time of year, I`m not dressed to go outside.

The car alarm has been ringing for about 15 minutes now while I write this. Time enough for me to save my work, get dressed, go downstairs, locate the car with the raging alarm, smash its windows and yank out the radio, check my hair in one of the sideview mirrors, and then walk back up to my apartment.

You know, somehow I don't think that the Metro Toronto Car Alarm Taskforce will swoop down on me and drag away me or anyone else off in cuffs. Could you imagine if the police were told to respond to car alarms? They'd say "Yep, sure. We'll do that right after we crack down on those hardened criminals that bring 9 items to 8 items or less counters."

Car alarms are marvellous things, if you need something to annoy the neighbours. If your intention is to prevent crime it's somewhat less effective. I understand that most crimes against cars don't involve the actual theft of the vehicle, but the smashing and grabbing of anything valuable inside. This takes about 1.5 seconds, which is kind of lean if you want someone to get there on time to do anything about the crime. I imagine any nifty stickers that proclaim the car alarm manufacturer might deter the less courageous thieves... but stickers cost substantially less than car alarms and they don't wake the neighbours at 4 am. And I'm sure stickers or dumb alarms don't bother the more experienced smash and grabbers.

The car alarm is still going as I write this.

Now it occurs to me that car alarms serve other purposes too. They also can immediately alert the owners to the fact that an adult cat has jumped on the hood of a car, or a careless skateboarder has bumped into it. I'm willing to bet than in at least 96% of the cases in which a car alarm goes off, it's not because the window has been broken and there's a dark gap in the dash with wires hanging out of it where the radio used to be. I remember once closing my own car door hard enough to set off the alarm of the car parked right next to me. And it's not as if I slammed the door. I've seen a marching band practising in parking lots, and the bass drum alone has sent a car detector wailing.

That alarm's still going. It's one of those alarms that has a variety of different noises for maximum annoyance. Wheeoowheeoowheeoowheeoo-oooh ooohh oooh ooh-pheow pheow pheow pheow--whoooop whooop whooop whooop-orina orina orina... repeat over and over again, until the doofus who owns it comes down.

Maybe it's because I haven't driven in years and never owned a car, but I don't understand some car owners. A car isn't a cheap investment I understand the need to protect it, but I don't understand why too many drivers treat their cars better than their wives. Or believe that buying something expensive has somehow given them control over nature or the ability to claim land in the name of their vehicle, like some conquistador jabbing a flag into the ground and declaring "I claim this land in the name of Spain" while the natives look on and wonder who this arsehole is.

I was an autoshow with some friends once. My admiration of cars is purely aesthetic. Some of them have neat shapes and colours, but then again, so do birds, and I can't name all the families of birds. So while they were talking horsepower and V whatever engines and strokes, I was more interested in the models that had been paid to look pretty and have very little clothing on while standing next to a car.

One thing relating to cars actually did catch my attention though. It was a demonstration of a car alarm, in fact. Not like the one I can still hear. This one had some sort of sensor that could detect people close to it. And it spoke! It warned people that they were too close to the car, and if they stayed long enough, it would warn them that it would sound an alarm.

Pretty neat toy actually. And it proves my point about the conquistador. So what if I am standing close to your car? What crime have I committed, exactly? You've bought an expensive car and an obnoxious alarm system, and that gives you the right to determine where I can stand? Tell you what: can you look deep within your heart and find it within your soul to stroke it, suck it, then shove it as far and as fast it will go? Can you do that for me? Unless I'm masturbating in front of your car, which is something a person who would buy this kind of alarm would more likely do, I am not doing anything illegal.

Hm... doofus must have finally staggered downstairs. The alarm is finally off.

Let's not even talk about the mentality that "everybody on the road is an idiot but me" that seems to go hand in hand with driving. Even I thought that when I was driving. But I did remember the basic natural laws that govern our environment. I remembered, for example, that there are seasons, including one called "Winter." For drivers and those unfamiliar with life in the northern climes, we get this interesting substance dropping from the sky we call "snow." It's white, it's cold, it's slippery, and if you're a man, you can write your name in it if there's enough it on the ground. You see, one "snow-flake" by itself tiny and short lived, not significant. They tend to travel in packs however, and when there's enough of it on the ground, roads become slippery, and it can even reduce your visibility if there's still snow in the air.

It has snowed in this country every winter for quite some time. Strangely, every year drivers seem surprised that it comes back. "Stupid weather cycles, how dare it snow?" they rave. "Don't you know that I've bought an expensive vehicle with an alarm system that talks to you, in fact it's a far better conversationalist than I am?" As Mark Twain said, everybody talks about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it.

Presumably the now silent car outside my building is surrounded by the city's finest detectives who are trying to determine what set off the alarm. Maybe they found the culprit and he's sitting in a cruiser with metal bracelets behind his back. There might also be a walrus down there explaining the origins of the Anglican church to a curious penguin who's writing a term paper on the subject.

Oh fuck, the alarm just went off again.