–Fred Stock

         You’re sitting quietly watching a baseball game on TV with a remote control clicker in one hand and an electronic Yahtzee game in the other. You are switching between the Angels on one station and the Dodgers on the other, and each time you hit the “revert” button the thing chirps! That’s OK because you know you have actually pressed the button and something actually was transmitted to the TV set. Meanwhile the Yahtzee game chirps that you are allowing too much time to increment. Nag nag nag!

         Then in the background there are three high quick chirps. “Bee-Bee-Beep!” You begin running through the mental list of chirps of things that could be. The toaster oven or the microwave – no, your spouse is sitting across the room reading. Maybe it’s a cell phone that has a message for you? No, that’s in the bedroom on a charger. What is it? Yikes!  You begin your hunt through the kitchen where it probably originated… carbon-monoxide detector? No, not the right kind of chirp. Smoke detector? No, not loud enough. Hmmm… Dishwasher’s not running so it’s not that. Oven is off – not that. Good grief! How can I pay attention to my two baseball games with this mystery?

         Oh, I know, it was the coffee maker. Yah, that has a series of lights and panels and little square shapes flashing on and off. The coffee is ready! Nice to know your addictions have been quantified and matriculated, then automated to annoy you! “Get out here and drink this coffee!”

         About that time there’s a “ba-gong” sound from the computer in your little office. That must mean something; better check it out. Sure enough, there’s a message on the screen that some program that was in there when you got the thing and never use, needs to update to a newer version. You press “cancel” and within five seconds it ba-gongs again! Alright, for Pete’s sake, update something. Leave me alone; Chone Figgins is batting. My word!

         Settle back down in the recliner and shortly there is a chirp from the answering machine. While you were chasing down the coffee chirps a voice mail came in on the house line. Hit a button for another series of chirps to check the caller I.D.. Don’t want to talk to him tonight… ignore it. At least that stops the chirping. About that time the cell phone has a musical chirp to tell me there a text message. Meanwhile Manny-wood is going crazy because he hit another two run homer and I missed it! Sigh! That’s OK. They’ll rerun it about thirty times before the broadcast is over; just listen for the little chirp that is broadcast as they start the tape. That’s comforting.

         Suddenly there’s a new series of chirps! The Emergency Broadcast System is interrupting the baseball games for a test just as O-dog Hudson is running to catch a high fly. You may never find out that result! Great gooba-jooba!

         Later, you run down to the Shell Station for gas. As you stop at the pump, the car chirps to tell you to turn off the headlights. Then you run your card and the pump chirps to get your zip code. I guess that’s important to the pump for some reason. Then it chirps to tell you to pump your own gas. Didn’t a kid used to do this for you? Then it chirps to tell you the tank is full. Then it chirps to ask you if you want a receipt. Then it spits out a receipt and chirps at you! “Hey, your receipt is ready.” Yah, yah….

         Then you pop back in the car and the car chirps at you to put your seat belt on. OK, OK, you brute. You put the thing in gear, and it chirps again. You forgot to release the parking brake. You head back home and a few seconds later the car is chirping again. “What now? Good lawd!”  Turns out you left the turn light on too long. Dash boards don’t like that, evidently. And of course they chirp in protest. That’s when the Bluetooth chirps. Push the button (another chirp) and the wife says, “Where did you go?” You explain that you have been conversing with all the chirps. She hangs up. She must be shaking her head by now, probably rightfully so! At least her neck doesn’t chirp as it shakes the pretty head.

         You get home and park, and open the door. The car chirps once again to make you turn off the headlights. You close the door and click to car alarm. It chirps at you. Oh, good, I needed that! It's nice to have approval from an inanimate object. I tell you, all this chirping is for the birds.  –fhs