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I would like to talk to you about a problem in our nearly otherwise perfect nation. That problem is prffftrcpfff khffsshhhttnnnff. Wait. Hold on. Did you understand that? I didn't. What I meant to say was "Intercom Systems."

When's the last time you thought you were being spoken to, only to discover it was just someone on the intercom system? This has never happened to me. If it did, I would begin to really doubt that I could even HEAR. Ok, so when's the last time you had no idea, no matter how hard you listened, what the stupid intercom was saying? That happens to me all the time. And yes, I hear FINE.

I have a theory. It goes like this: all intercom systems are actually old Metallica guitar amplifiers. If you think about it, this theory really makes a great deal of sense. No company I know of actually manufactures speakers that have extreme difficulty making sound. The only way this can happen to speakers is when they get "blown." This is an industry term meaning "someone at a Metallica concert turned the volume up too far, which sent an absolutely Goliath signal to the speaker, which the speaker received and thought to itself 'There is No Way I will be able to make that Goliath noise. Instead I will explode.'" So what we have here is the Great Chain of Speaker Existence: Metallica buys several hundred guitar amps, then they thrash them all, then they sell the used speakers real cheap to Ed's Intercoms of America, then Ed installs all the speakers in drive-throughs, schools, stores, and other public buildings across the United States.

What I'm wondering is "why don't they take the speakers out of cars totaled by reckless teenagers?" Believe me, this idea makes almost as much sense as just not using intercoms. I'm sure we've all heard cars miles down the road with ultra expensive stereos making lots of noise. These cars have speakers systems that Metallica would kill for. Seriously. I mean, I hope none of them read this article. These cars also frequently have drivers that Metallica is not able to kill, because their driving habits do it first, if you know what I mean. This is why we can use their speakers.

There are several facts I would like to bring to your attention about intercoms and their design and installation. Installing an intercom is one of the last things ever to be done to a building, similar to a breath mint after a meal. When an architect (usually someone named Rod or sometimes Bob) goes to design a building, the first thing he does is NOT think "Well, I'll need to allow for an intercom system in my design." Instead, he goes and buys a pop. Then he sits down at his computer and plays Solitaire. After finally giving up in frustration, he turns to his building plan and promptly designs a wonderful structure, allowing, of course, for heating and air conditioning ducts, electrical wiring, insulation, phone lines, plumbing and What Have You. Notice that "intercom system" was left out of that list. After Rod finishes his design, he shows it to the client, who directly says "We need an intercom system." The architect then calls Ed without so much as blinking. You know what happens next -- Ed installs his used Metallica amps throughout the building. Then he eats a breath mint.

You may be saying, "You know, Zach, I totally agree with you. I think Ed should start using speakers from totaled cars." If you are saying this, I would like to point out the numerous negative points to this idea. First, some other executive genius may start using the blown Metallica speakers for, say, car horns. Imagine the horror you would feel if you went to honk at somebody for cutting you off only to hear a spasm of uncertain static issue from beneath the hood. And secondly, most of the stereos in teenagers' cars only do bass. Only when you get really close can you tell there is actually Other Noise besides bass. Although that may be the ringing of your ears from getting too close to the bass. Everyone working at Burger King would sound like James Earl Jones. Even those really squeaky girls named Calypso or Asia or other weird names would sound that way. This could lead to some interesting pranks. I'm sure the "Hi, I'm Darth Vader" joke would get old REAL fast.

As you can see, even this solution has its downside. Those people with the very best stereos with very recognizable Other Noise as well as very recognizable bass never total their cars, possibly due to the phases of the moon. This is known as the Law of Inverse Availability: the more something is needed, the harder it is to find. This is especially true during a new moon, because it is very dark.

If you are STILL saying "You know, Zach, I STILL say we should use stereos from cars totaled by reckless teenagers" then I would have to point out the other disadvantages. Many times people really don't want to hear what is being said on the intercom. Especially at stores, when they try to say "Cashier to counter 8." The cashier, Matt or sometimes Tim, is back in the stockroom drinking a pop with Ed, and the intercom makes a very convenient scapegoat. Often people will even act as though they are trying to hear what is being said. Then, when the announcement is over, they will say, "Did you understand that? I sure didn't. Oh well. Here's to many more successful intercom installations!" and they will drink more pop with Ed. If we actually used these high-fidelity speakers that teenagers mysteriously get enough money to put in their cars, everyone within walking distance will know exactly what James Earl Jones said over the intercom. Then, when no one shows up at counter 8, everyone will also know exactly who to blame.

Another problem is that grocery store owners would lose money. Even if Ed installed the speakers dirt cheap. If you have ever been to a grocery store, then you know that they often play what is known as "Elevator Music" over the intercom system. If you haven't, I highly recommend you go. There is food there, including pop for far cheaper than you can get from a machine. Elevator Music is so named because it was often played in elevators over the intercom system. It sounds terrible, mostly due to the speakers. Henceforth, all horrible-sounding music was placed under the blanket term "Elevator Music." I have often mistaken people talking over the intercom for Elevator Music, it's so bad. What's really interesting is that this elevator music supposedly helps grocery stores sell more items. Independent laboratories have done studies proving this. It's probably because people hear the music and want to leave so badly that they completely forget their grocery list. If they wrote it down, they forget where it is. If it's sitting right in front of them, they drop it into a pile of oranges. Then, they buy more than was originally on their list because it's better to buy too much stuff than to forget something and have to come back again. If we implemented the "use car stereo speakers" plan, the music would sound so incredibly good that people would all stop putting things into their carts and listen to the music. I'm sure several of them would begin dancing and knock over at least a dozen of those nice displays. Then James Earl Jones would come on and say "Matt, get over to aisle 8 and help clean up." Matt would have to help; he couldn't blame it on the intercom. Then all the customers would dance out into the parking lot WITHOUT BUYING ANYTHING. Since they could easily hear the intercom out in the parking lot, they would just start a big dance out in the lot. They would require anyone who pulled up to join them, preventing anyone from getting IN. The combined force of all those people jumping around would ruin the parking lot. All in all, it would be very destructive to grocery stores. And other stores that play Elevator Music. People may even stop buying Ed pop.

So it seems to me that, no matter what you're STILL saying, the best option would be to use car horns. I have never in my life misunderstood a car horn.The Compendium

© 1998-2021 Zach Bardon
Last modified 7.19.2019
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