13 January 2015

In 2009, my roommates and I sat on our creaky, green futon and were busy watching an episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Suspenseful music blared from our twenty-seven inch television while we waited for Regis Philbin's crackly voice and wrinkly face to formulate the words, "Is that your final answer?" But the contestant had picked the wrong answer--"No, I'm sorry. The answer was C, the Doppler Effect."--and he stood up, shook Mr. Philban's hand, and took home a little bit of money and some defeat.

The Doppler Effect. It is the alteration of sound as a moving object changes position relative to its listener. Standing on the sidewalk, I could hear the ambulance before I could see it. The sparse leaves on the trees that lined the street quietly swayed side to side, almost in sync with the sirens that were wailing rhythmically. I heard the sounds getting slightly higher and more alarming, and with this change of sound came the anticipated ambulance itself. The sounds were still shrill, but as it approached, closer and closer, the tone changed. No longer piercing, but deep and solemn, like a young boy whose voice begins to change that summer between junior high and high school indicating that he had become a man almost overnight. The sounds continued in this lower register, diminishing as the ambulance moved farther away, past the horizon, hurrying to save someone's life. I always imagine an old man for some reason.