The Backup Beep-Beep-Beeps Bit

[Take the stage and pull the microphone out of its stand. Thank the emcee and the venue. Thank the crowd for attending the show. Comment on how great it is to be back in _________. Assuming there’s nothing else with comic potential to take note of, begin the bit/chunk/routine:]

Question: What one annoying thing do trucks, SUVs, minivans, and bulldozers have in common? 

[Repeat answers, if any, and, if applicable, consider following up with, “What’s annoying about that?”]

The one thing that annoys me most about trucks, SUVs, minivans, and bulldozers is this: Whenever the driver throws any one of them into reverse, the damn thing goes: “Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!”

[Back up slowly as you...] 
“Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!” 
[Stop and pause.] 
[Stop and pause.] 
“Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!” 
[Continue until laughter, if any, abates.]

If you live in suburbia, it’s no big deal, right? A minor inconvenience. But if you’re an urbanite? And the place you rent was built back when everybody danced the jitterbug? Well, in that case, you can probably do without an alarm clock. The garbage truck that backs into your alley at five-thirty every morning never fails — certainly never on the days you intend to sleep in. In my neighborhood, it’s often a trio or a quartet of beep-beep-beeps. Sometimes it’s a full orchestra of beeping that spans multiple city blocks. Did I say orchestra? I meant cacophony.

[Perform a cacophony of various beeps that morph into, say, Beethoven’s 5th. Don’t forget to backup.]

But if it’s somehow orchestrated / coordinated / devised / machinated, then maybe Elvis Presley did go back in time after all. Why? To shoot JFK. And Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald because he (Oswald) was supposed to shoot Elvis before he (Presley) was supposed to shoot JFK. (According to unnamed sources, Oswald’s fondness for Viva Las Vegas prevented him from following through. Curiously, the film was not released until six months after his death. So, you ask, who did Oswald shoot? Nobody. His rifle misfired.) For the record, the only reason The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll went back in time in the first place was to counsel his younger self against eating so many peanut butter, banana, and bacon sandwiches. But he got side tracked. By the aliens.

Seriously, though, the trucks, SUVs, minivans, and bulldozers in my neighborhood should get together, ideally under the direction of Philip Glass, for a gig at Ravinia Festival.

Long ago, in the time before backup beeps, there were only two ways to know if a vehicle was backing up. One was by getting hit. (Well, you live and you learn. Or you don’t.) The other way took a bit of forethought. You see, you had to WATCH where you were going. And before you crossed a street, or an alley, or a driveway? You had to TURN your head. Not ONE way, but BOTH ways. These days we’re too busy to look where we’re going. It takes too much effort to lift your chin. Dammit, you’ve got cat videos to watch! But don’t you see? THIS is how the Russians are REALLY hacking our country — with endless uploads of frolicking kittens!

If you aren’t a little crusty, bitter, and/or jaded — like me — and if yours is a caring soul with a good heart, or if your middle name happens to be “Pity,” or if you have a tattoo of Mary and her little lamb on the inside of your left ankle, you might say, “But what about all the little girls and little boys and poor little blind people? Isn’t the world a safer place with beep-beep-beeps? Isn’t this minor nuisance worth saving just one life?” And as I close my eyes, inhale deeply and slowly exhale, whilst silently counting backwards from ten to one, you’d add, “If it annoys you so much, why not use ear plugs? Or move.”

So every time I’m inconvenienced I gotta move? Or I gotta plug up my ears because YOU’RE  the one making a racket? I’M not buggin’ anybody. But the beep-beep-beeps, they’re buggin’ me. So I bitch and moan. And all THAT does is add additional noise to the world. And if everybody’s bitching and moaning at the same time — ‘cause when you live in the city there’s always SOMETHING to bitch about — that means you’ve gotta bitch (and/or moan) louder than the other guy, and the other guy’s gotta bitch/moan louder than you. And if everybody else has their ears plugged up to drown out all that bitching and moaning, then NOBODY is gonna be able to hear the mother-effing

yeah, yeah, 
it’s a safety thing, I get it. 
But if you back over somebody’s grandmother with your truck, SUV, minivan, or bulldozer, do you honestly believe that the jury is gonna buy the Beep Defense? Oh, sure, yeah, right, you can count on the foreman to stand up and say, “We, the jury, find the defendant not guilty for flattening Bernice Fitzhiggum, and her chihuahua, because everybody ELSE in the neighborhood heard the BEEP, BEEP, BEEPS loud and clear.” Yup. Uh-huh.

[Shake your head.]

Lookit: If you’re behind the wheel of something that can flatten anybody, then the beeps should be on the INSIDE of the vehicle. It’s YOUR responsibility to take care, to look out for the Bernice Fitzhiggums of the world (along with the former Taco Bell mascots they may keep as pets).

Whoever CAUSED the beep 
ought to SUFFER the beep. 
Make it your motto, 
your maxim, 
your mantra: 
“Don’t back up! 
Never back up! 
Forward forever!”

On the other hand, imagine all the other dangerous things in the world that might benefit from beeps: 

A gun! 

[Slowly raise a “gun” and beep, beep, beep.]
A cigarette! 

[Slowly raise a “cigarette” to your lips and beep, beep, beep.] 

Every effing door! 

[Slowly open a “door” and beep, beep, beep.]

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