“Left, right, left, right, left, right”, all the way down the twenty or so stairs from the train platform to the ticketing landing, the 5 year old twin sisters belted out the cadence of their march. Not that their belting cadence had anything to do with the cadence of their feet.
New York is a fun city to listen to. Take the 1 train. I do. (There I go again, cracking myself up.) If my bedroom window is open, I can sometimes hear it pull into and out of the 238th Street station. It’s pretty loud when you are on it, but it gets really loud, for some reason, around 126th Street. I think there is an open grate to the surface there which might have something to do with it. Other times, it’s peacefully quiet, like the whisper of the wind. I forget which station that is on the 1 train, but I noticed it today pulling out of the 59th Street station on the 4 train. The 4 train was really crowded on the way home today – I didn’t get a seat until about three stops before I got off, which is at the second last stop on the line. Even then, other passengers were kind enough to squeeze in so there was room for me.
There is another sound I’ve noticed, and wasn’t sure if it was a thing until just now. It is a particular sound police cars make here that I haven’t hear before. It’s this really low pitched whoop. Upon further research, because I and my strike force of crack researchers here at Doc Och’s Box leave no box unturned, it is a thing. That thing is called a Rumbler siren. It is a low pitched sound that penetrates hard surfaces like car exteriors better than the high pitched wail does. It also gets people’s attention through earbuds, talking on the phone, loud music in their car, and the like. I found that all out in this article, which I read, so you don’t have to. A highlight from that article:
Some New Yorkers have already raised concerns that the Rumbler’s low-frequency vibration could be injurious to their health. The Police Department insists that there is nothing to worry about and invited me to experience the effect for myself. But when Officer Joe Gallagher, a department spokesman, considered the fact that I am in what used to be known as “a family way,” he suggested that I not actually ride in a Rumbler-equipped squad car. “I don’t want you sitting in the back and going into childbirth,” he said. “I’m not handy with that.”
I’m not so handy with it either, so I rode in Officer Gallagher’s car while Officers Jeff Donato and Matthew Powlett of the 10th Precinct drove ahead of us, Rumbling as they went.
Here’s a YouTube video of a police car using it downtown. I couldn’t hear the low frequency sound through my tinny laptop speakers, but I could hear it clearly through earbuds. Surprisingly, it is actually quieter than a regular siren – about 10 decibels quieter, which translates to about half as as much volume. The sound penetrates, though; it always gets my attention.
I have the window to my room open today, and it is quiet out there right now (at about 8:20pm). Earlier there was music playing, but it is off now. I can hear the steady hum of the traffic on the Major Deegan Highway – that’s constant, but fairly quiet. It is quiet enough, in fact, that I can hear an air conditioner across the street. I can hear the children playing in the park up the street, and some conversation closer by. I can hear the occasional beep of the horn. Here in New York, it is rarely a friendly toot-toot. It is almost always an angry blare. I can hear a plane climbing over head – probably taking off from LaGuardia. Now the music is back – it’s Latin – it might be those kids down the street who practice dancing. It sounds like their music, plus it keeps restarting. I can hear the occasional bus go by – the rev of the engine as it climbs the hill southbound, and the whoosh of the air brakes when it leaves the stop.
If I open my door, I can hear the mix of music Leo, my apartment mate, is playing. It is a mix of Latin, rap and other stuff. He likes to sing along. I’ve got to tell you a little bit about Leo. His 104 year old grandmother passed away the second day I was here, so I got to meet his mom. Leo is a super friendly guy, almost to a fault. One day, early on in my stay here – like maybe day four or five, I was walking home from the grocery store. I was just crossing the street when I hear a yell from behind me, “Joe!” I ignored it, because what are the chances it’s for me? “Joe!” OK, there are no male people in New York who know me. I work for Girls Who Code. “Hey, Joe!” Now I’m thinking, how could anyone know me? Did I leave my debit card at the grocery? I replayed my transaction, nope. Besides, the cashier was female. “Joe!” finally, I turned around, and there’s Leo hanging out the door of a retail store he works in. “Hey, Joe! How are you doing?” As I said, friendly. Almost to a fault, but not really even close.
That’s about all for now. I am getting up early to see a class at a site I haven’t been to yet, so off to bed a little early tonight.