Monday, March 14, 2011


That is the new sound that has replaced the old sirens on ambulances and other emergency vehicles in NYC. I found this out yesterday on my way to the Post Office. I was crossing the street in my usual early morning stupor, thinking my usual stale, unimaginative thoughts, such as, “Will I make it across before the little orange hand stops blinking?“

URP! URP! URP! came out of nowhere, causing me to stop dead in the middle of 34th Street, look up and down, trying to decide which way to run. By the time I had decided, the ambulance had swerved, still URPING, around me, and disappeared. Shakily, I made me way to the curb, and my favorite refuge, the old P.O.

“When did they introduce the new ambulance sirens?” I asked my favorite clerk.

”About a week ago. Did you run into one? You look a little pale.”

“Yeah, it almost ran over me.”

“Do you want to sit down?”

“No, that’s okay. I’ll have a roll of stamps, please.” I fumbled in my pocketbook for the money. “Tell, me, Mike, do you think I’m getting too old to live in New York City?”

He looked me over carefully. “Naah. There ‘re a lot a people older than you here.”

Reassured, I made my way through the crowd and out into the street. Crossing 34th Street at top scuttle, looking both ways at once (an art only New Yorkers have achieved), I made it home to my quiet, safe apartment --- alive.

---Robin Hathaway

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