Friday, June 17, 2011

RG hears a what?

Superhuman hearing can be a curse at times.

So I'm sitting in my living room, watching a TV show about explosions on the internet, when I become aware of a beeping sound. It sounded a bit like a busy signal; a low noise with a constant, slow rhythm. After sitting through two commercial breaks with the sound still going, I figured I should check it out more closely.

At first I thought it was my stereo speakers (through which I wired my laptop's sound), since they can often pick up sounds from the radio. Nope, wasn't that.

Then I thought it was the relatively new (to me) and relatively expensive printer, which prefers sleep mode to being turned off. Maybe it was throwing an error. Nope.

It was louder in my living room than in the room to the left, and it was louder than in the room to the right. But I could hear it out of the window at the front of the house. It still sounded louder from my living room window. It must be outside.

I could hear it outside, not much louder than I did before; the sound would be obscured if a car went by or a squirrel farted. My living room window is just above the hydro meters on the side of the house, but it wasn't those, and it wasn't an alarm (or a phone off the hook) from the unit downstairs.

I followed the sound across the street and down two or three houses, and narrowed it down to one of two middle units in a rowhouse. The volume subtly adjusted with the subtle variations in the wind. Maybe it was a smoke or CO2 detector going off, or maybe old lady Fletcher has fallen and can't get up again.

It didn't look like either one had been broken into, and there were no signs of fire. I narrowed it down to one unit, but couldn't tell if it was the basement, (raised) ground floor or upper floor.

The ground floor window was open, and I was able to close it from the outside, but this had no effect on the volume of the sound. Looking in the front door yielded no further clues, though it did look like the place was unoccupied. I didn't want to knock on the door yet, since I wouldn't exactly want to startle a burglar who might have broken in the back door.

I also didn't want to yell out if someone was in need of help. I seemed to be the only one who could hear this noise, and I'd rather not draw attention to the drunk guy on the second floor patio two doors down, yelling out slurred approximations of partial '70s song lyrics. I also wouldn't want to challenge his title of craziest guy on the block. I could imagine people reacting to my calls: "Drunk? Sure, but that guy who hears noises? He takes the cake!"

So instead I went around back to see if it could yield more clues. As I approached the rear of the row, I saw it was fenced off and could block my vantage point, but to my fortune, there were a couple people on the rear patio of the unit in question. I called out and asked if they could check on the beeping that I heard.

Then I waited as he went in.

And waited.


Finally, he came out and confirmed that someone had left an alarm clock on. Presumably the higher frequencies were muffled by the windows and/or doors, leaving only this quiet, low beep that only I was obsessive enough to notice or care about.

I promptly thanked him and walked back home, trying my best to ignore whatever else he was trying to say about why the alarm had gone off (probably trying to ensure the blame would not fall on him).

I was reassured once again that I am not crazy.

Now to get someone to turn off the attempted singer!

- RG>