Here’s the deal. Last night, when I arrived at my gym, the fire alarm was going off. A flashing light and a high-pierced shriek and when I looked inside…people were just plodding along on their treadmills – business as usual. As I stood outside, wondering what to do, a guy walked past me and into the building from whence said fire alarm was blaring and proceeded to start his workout. I understand. It certainly didn’t look like the building was on fire. But I just couldn’t stand the thought of my obituary reading, “Died when he ignored a fire alarm and voluntarily entered the building…”
It’s as if everyone in the gym were hitting a giant snooze button on this fire alarm and rolling over for a few more reps. And it’s even worse with car alarms. Whenever I hear a car alarm going off, I spring into action and do absolutely nothing. My only response to a car alarm is to think to myself, “When is that person going to turn their car alarm off?” Of course, the alarm is designed to alert us of a problem – but they simply don’t work.
As a society, we’ve become jaded to alarms. And I do think the alarm clock is partially to blame. If we can roll over and switch off the alarm that blasts us awake every morning, why should we take particular notice of the other alarms that bother us throughout the day? Alarms are simply no longer alarming.
The other problem is that humans pretty much expect things to go as they’ve gone in the past. In the past, when I go to the gym, it is not on fire. Therefore, the gym is probably not on fire this time. And it wasn’t. The culprit was an over-cooked bag of microwave popcorn (I warned them, here). But alarms serve a purpose – we need them for exactly those times when things do not go as they have in the past. So, technically, this should be called not “Makya McBee Vs. Alarms,” but “Makya McBee Vs. Our Obliviousness to Alarms.” (I suppose it would be easier to just go back and switch the title than to explain that here. But my motto is, once it’s typed…it’s good enough).
So, how am I going to do it? How will I make alarms work again? I think the key issue here is the delivery system. The variety of annoying sounds that different alarms make…we’ve heard them all. We’re used to them. We need something new. Something that will really get our attention. Something that will make us listen. I think we should replace the loud beeping with a ferocious growl and replace the strobe light with the holographic image of a rabid grizzly bear – now that’s a good alarm. A giant, diseased, roaring grizzly would get people off their treadmills. And while noises and lights aren’t particularly alarming, there are plenty of things that scare us. A giant banner of a homicidal clown. A pit of snakes. Dental equipment. You get the idea. Or we could have our own personal alarms, an electronic signal would trigger the alarm which would show us the image of something terrifying (for me, sharks) and we would run in fear.
Yes. I’m going to implement this plan. I’m going to make alarms functional once again. I’m going to make the world a better place. Besides, I don’t want to stand outside the gym all by myself anymore.