Monthly Archives: February 2009

Car alarms are like the UN of the streets: they make lots of noise, but no one actually listens.

Ever notice how car alarms have now become part of the “normal” downtown city atmosphere? All day, all night, you will hear a car alarm going off somewhere.


We accept things like ambulance, police, and fire truck sirens because they serve a very important purpose (on the odd occasion, however, that purpose may just be getting the driver past that red so he can cash in on the Circuit City out-of-business sale). But what I consider even more important is that they are effective. You hear that siren, you get the hell out of the way. Mission accomplished.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about car alarms. To prove my point, let’s analyze two situations where a car alarm comes into play.

SITUATION 1 – Some idiot touches your car by mistake: He fumbles around like a moron, taken aback by the sudden noise. Embarrassed, he tries to regain his composure by fixing his shirt and maintaining position beside the car, because moving too quickly will only worsen his already cemented title asĀ that douchebag on the street. A few people look at the car to inspect what’s going on, notice that a man is standing beside the car with an alarm going off, assume it’s his, and just keep moving.

SITUATION 2 – Someone is actually stealing your car: He gets the door shimmied open using a hangar, and just as he opens the door the car alarm goes off. A few people look at the car, notice that a man just got into the car, assume it’s his, and just keep moving.

LESSON OF THE DAY: There is no way for people near the car to differentiate between situation 1 and 2. More importantly, no one will look at the car long enough to find out. They are so annoyed by the obnoxious eardrum-raping assault that is your car alarm that they are getting the hell away from your car as quickly as possible.

Think about the sheer volume of noise pollution caused by all the car alarms out there today. Noise in itself is not the worst thing in the world, and can’t always be avoided. Useless noise, on the other hand, is goddamn sacrilege. This general rule applies to speech too, by the way (translation: say less stuff and people might actually tolerate you). The only other justification I can think of for these horrible systems is the goal of alerting the car’s owner. Back to the situation rule.

Imagine yourself sitting in your desk, and suddenly your car alarm goes off. What do you do? Quickly run outside because you recognize the car alarm as yours, defeat the evil car thief and save a baby from a fire on your way back? NO. You hear an annoying car alarm, you don’t even think about the possibility of it being yours because a) they all sound the freaking same and b) what are the chances of that happening to you? You make the obligatory joke with your coworker about the owner of that car being a douche for never turning their alarm off, and then as an exaggerated expression of your anger you threaten to burn down the building. To escape the awkward silence resulting from your threat, you put on your headphones and get back to not doing any work. Alert Fail.

So, now that we have established that the warning system is completely ineffective, as its audience pays no attention to the signals, shouldn’t logic prevail and the systems be disabled? Of course not. If such logic were ever to dictate policies of any kind, I wouldn’t hear “We are now on Homeland Security Alert Level Fuschia” every goddamn time I walk into the airport.

So do humanity a favour. Disable your car alarm. If your car gets stolen, don’t worry. Just steal someone else’s car. And don’t worry if their alarm goes off while you’re doing it — no one will care.

**NOTE: I do not, in any way, condone or advise the theft of motor vehicles. I do, however, believe in the blow up car if alarm is on for more than an hour rule.