Heathenish Noise

Why does that adjective heathenish come to mind? Maybe because peace and quiet are hard to come by anymore, and seem to require diligence and mindfulness. The current practice of designing alarms into every machine makes no provision for our need for refuge from the noisy world that is often right outside the door. They are uncivilized in that way.

My house is starting to resemble a hospital emergency room, with all the many and varied BEEPs signifying matters that need to be attended to. As in the ER, the matters are not usually life-threatening, and the messages might just be that things are working as they should. The oven beeps to let me know it has reached the desired temperature. My car beeps to tell me it is locked.

My new refrigerator beeps if I leave the door open longer than one minute. This is less of a problem now that it’s been moved into the kitchen where it belongs, but it was a constant annoyance during remodeling when I would go out to the garage to get some cold item and find that by the time I arrived, I’d have forgotten what I wanted, and stand staring into territory that was also unfamiliar. Or I was trying to figure out whether moving a shelf would improve the organization, but the psychic tension of waiting for the beeping to start was almost worse than the beep itself, and would make it hard to think calmly.

My old appliances did beep once to tell me when the timer expired, or when the microwave turned off. The new ones never stop the infernal beeping until I do something about it, like open the microwave or press a button on the stove. And all this for my convenience, I’m sure. Though I would rather risk my mug of tea getting cold in the microwave than have one more seemingly gentle alarm. All these many small beeps are like a constant and aggravating sound of dripping, or like the raven quoting “Nevermore,” that threaten to take my sanity from me.

This morning as B. and I were standing in the kitchen, I heard a beep so faint I thought it must not be in the same room. Perhaps it was from a neighbor’s house…but when I stuck my head out the back door, there was quiet. I walked toward the garage, and it got louder. Oh, no! The washing machine had stalled and was flashing a new error message along with a frequent beep, just minutes after I’d canceled the Sears repair request because the other error message was in remission.

I was getting ready to have a friend for lunch for her birthday, even though the house is still in great disorder, but all morning I dealt with the washer. Decided to call a different repair person, because I had had enough of the impersonal (and also heathenish) Sears telephone system. Then I had to be sure I kept the washer malfunctioning so that the repairman wouldn’t come for nothing. That took so much time I had to drastically alter the menu. Also, I don’t know what box my baking pans are in, so I realized I can’t make banana bread yet! I don’t know where the citrus juicer is, so bottled lime juice instead of fresh lemon juice went into the kale chips.

I was getting items from the fridge to start lunch when the microwave beeped, because I’d put my tea in there to reheat after it was forgotten in the flurry over the washer. So I went to take it out, but I must not have shut the fridge, and that started beeping. Shut that door…o.k….Now go out and check on the washer, to see if it will start now that it’s cooled a bit. No, it won’t start–but the beeper is working great.

When I came back in the kitchen there was, I hate to say it, a new and different beep happening. God, help me! This one was very fast and furious. Was it the refrigerator telling me that it’s too hot, perhaps? No….How about the stove? Is something burning, or shorting? This beep sounds so urgent. But it seems to be between the fridge and the stove…..in the drawer.  Oh. It is a comparatively old-fashioned electronic timer that must have been accidentally bumped when I shut the drawer. Simple to turn off.

I wonder if anyone has done a study on how this uncivilized beeping affects the health of humans? For myself, it seems certain it would make me sicker if I had to be in the ER hearing all those sounds. Can’t we have ring tones, say, of Pachelbel’s Canon, or a few notes of other good-mood music?

Perhaps the situation has generated a new kind of business opportunity; if I look in the phone book maybe I can find a listing for someone who will disconnect all the beeps that are getting on my nerves. The old-fashioned people noises we heard camping last week in Yosemite–I didn’t appreciate them enough.

7 thoughts on “Heathenish Noise

  1. Oh, I had to laugh…kind of. I so totally agree with you. And it's not just noises, it's lights! My fan beeps when I turn it on, and has three lights on top (power, speed, timer). I turn off my monitor on my computer, but there are still lights on my printer, my modem thingy, my mouse, my speakers, my power strip. My television has a light that comes on when I turn it OFF! In case I forget where I put it?? Walk in the kitchen, there are lights and/or clocks on the refrigerator, the range, the microwave, the coffee maker, the dishwasher. I am grateful I have all these lovely items, but I so miss the dark. I'll bet there are children out there who don't even know what REAL dark is!


  2. Oh, yes, Bliss, you are right….having our computer in the bedroom while we remodel has made me more aware of the increase of lights. I have to cover up the new phone, be sure the computer speakers are off, turn the clock away from me, just to reduce some of the light that I think contributes to the insomnia that is more of a problem the older I get.


  3. The real picture I kept seeing in this piece is you, longing for quiet and reflective time…

    I trust you will work out a more transcedental relationship with all the bossy conveniences…maybe you would like the little wood burning stove I bought a while back? Just having it near somehow is a comfort…


  4. My brain started to feel flustered just reading your post. We haven't upgraded to new appliances yet. I think our newest piece is about seven years old. I think I'm just going to keep them for as long as I can. I hope you can find a cure for all that noise.



  5. I didn't have anything that beeped until recently. Now my washing machine whistles constantly till I open it (and the cats get terribly upset and run round the house adding their own beeps), my bread machine does it and I have no idea why and so does the dishwasher at least on the one occasion I used it. I don't like it – it feels like being nagged and that spoils the fun of living alone!


  6. Oh yes! It is the constant beeping and the lights (as Bliss say) and the white noise. Everything seems to have a fan these days. The only time the house is truly quiet and dark is when we have a power outage.


  7. I sympathize with the ER sounds of beeps and alarms and signals in the house too. I only have one beeping appliance that's newish….the microwave. I have noticed that the car has a ding-ding when the tire pressure is low or the fuel is low.

    I'm not much for alarms and beeps either — I prefer the quiet and not knowing. Ignorance is bliss, right? I even prefer “vibrate” on the cell phone.



Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.