Though I live in the center of Manhattan, on the Upper West Side, in early morning and on Sunday I can hear many types of birds. Obviously I have always lived in the city or suburbs as sometimes I believe the sounds to be coming from giant pre-digitial stereo speakers.
I was typing in tune to The Subdudes my group of the year. Suddenly my Bose stereo went off; I’m not enamoured with my stereo, It’s one for non music lovers as it lacks depth, or so I think. But it’s reliable; in its place I heard all the people who were at a party in a townhouse, and a loud high c noise–uh, a, uh–car alarm.
My block is so quiet at night that a car alarm is disruptive. I have never lived in such a quiet place; the white noise from The West Side Highway sounds like ocean waves and all I need is a salt machine. I know, Kramer made one. Sometimes I feel as though we share much in common.
The noise went on and on. I called the doorman who knew about it. He suggested that I call 311; the city complaint number. I did and only had to wait a moment or two.
“Are you sure that it’s a car alarm? Could it be a horn?”
Was that a trick question? Once I drove all the way uptown with my friend Patrick when his horn was stuck. He was mortified; Lucia and I couldn’t stop laughing. It did sound like this.
“Well, it could be a stuck horn.”
The woman sighed.
“Can you tell me what model car it is?”
“I have absolutely no idea what car it’s coming from.”
“You have to know something. You have to know if it’s a horn or a car alarm.”
“I think it’s a car alarm. It could be a stuck car horn. I don’t know. It’s very very loud…” I put the cordless phone out the window and played it for her.
“Well, I don’t know….”
“Right, exactly. It’s just very loud.”
“There’s a special noise complaint number. You’re supposed to call your local police precinct.”
“You are? I thought 311 was the number for all non-emergency calls.”
“No. Who told you that?”
“The mayor? Not personally of course but…”
“Well, I’ll be glad to take your complaint. Wait a minute.”
She put me on hold. Five minutes later the call was lost. It’s been an hour and a half and the noise is still going on. My stereo suddenly went back on, and once again I’m typing in time to The Subdudes.