Sunday, September 16, 2007

Train Horn Blues

I think my neighborhood is mighty fine, but houses that are for sale here tend to stay on the market longer than average because of the adjacent railroad crossing where freight trains pass by more than 40 times a day with their horns blaring. It took me about two years to get used to their extremely loud noise, especially at 3:30 in the morning. It’s funny how I can now sleep soundly through the din of the roaring train but I wake up in an instant when my daughter is quietly padding around the house in a sleepwalking daze.

I am very much looking forward to the day, hopefully in the next few months, when the horns will stop. This will finally happen because my local county government (DeKalb County, Georgia) bowed to growing public pressure and allocated enough money to improve the railroad crossing so that it will qualify as a “Train Quiet Zone”, meaning that trains will be able to pass without sounding their horns.

Until then I'll continue to hear the familiar “two long, one short and one long” horn pattern. Although federal law mandates a train horn to be between 96 and 110 decibels (as measured 100 feet ahead), some train engineers use a light touch while others seem almost sadistic in the way they lay on the volume. It's like, "oh damn, Sam didn't get laid again, now we all have to suffer. Can't we just take up a collection?"

Many train engineers will experience the trauma of running over a person during their career, generally because of suicide but often due to accident. For this reason I can at least theoretically appreciate why they sound their horns so loudly. But I don't give a rat's ass about that when I'm watching the climactic scene in a television drama and the hero is revealing that the real identity of the killer is none other tha–

So, bring on the Quiet Zone. The whole neighborhood will have a party on that joyous day where everybody will whisper to each other and hear every word.

(By the way, if you'd like a real, honest-to-goodness train horn capable of reaching 175 decibels (which is mighty, mighty loud!) for under $400, go to I mean, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?)

1 comment: said...

Have you noticed that on holiday mornings they really lay on the horn. They must say if I am working you will have to pay.