Friday, June 19, 2020

Doorbell songs

Not terribly long ago I got a wireless doorbell for the front desk at our library. The idea was that it would function as a bit of a panic button to the backroom for when everything got very, very busy and help was needed. It was popular, but it wasn't used a lot.

Then came the Coronavirus. And with the Coronavirus came our complicated curbside pick up. Our doorbell was repurposed and has been heavily in action for people without cell phones. This doorbell set up comes with one doorbell that's battery powered and two receivers that have to be plugged in anywhere within a couple hundred feet. There are five volume levels and they can be set to play any of 15 or 20 different songs.

I love this doorbell. 

The first doorbell song during the Pandemic was an incredibly annoying, circusy sort of ditty, loud and long and sounding like an ice cream truck. This choice was the one that played for awhile, often to staff members groans. But eventually I decided to stop punishing all my co-workers as several of them were in no way at fault for... all of this. Plus I was tired of making the joke "The ice cream truck is here! Should I get you a bomb pop?"

After that we went through a few different doorbell songs. We had the Nutcracker for a time. Then we had a Christmas song that I didn't realize was a Christmas song until one of my co-workers complained about Christmas songs in June, so I agreed to change it. I'm still not sure what Christmas song it was. Some of the Doorbell songs are hard to place because they tend to be fast, strangely intense versions of traditional songs, very electronic, and with many bell and chiming effects to them.

So after the Christmas song I found a very pretty tune and left it at that. But the more times I heard it and its incredibly familiar melody, the more I wanted to know what it was. I simply couldn't place it even as I spent the whole day walking around humming it and asking people what it was.

Once my friend Jim showed me an app on his i phone where you can play it any song and it would tell you what it was. I found a likely young co-worker and asked if they had this app. They did! I went over to play the doorbell song for the app. The problem is that when you hit the button on the doorbell receiver to play the song it moves on to the next option, so I had to scroll through all the songs to get to the one I needed.  

There was only one problem:

I couldn't find it.

I cycled through all the songs, which all played alarmingly loud throughout the backroom of the library, and then I did it again. But my song was nowhere to be found. It was mystifying. But I simply couldn't find it again and had to give up. So I wistfully set the ringer to Scarborough Fair and did just that; I gave up. I figured I'd never know that insanely familiar, strangely missing song. 

At least I knew Scarborough Fair, and the ringer did a fair simulation of making it all agreeably flutey.

A couple of days later I was working on a computer over by where the person who answered the doorbell (called "The Runner") was working. I decided out of mischief I would try playing various flute and classical type versions of Scarborough Fair on YouTube on my computer to see if The Runner would notice that my music was more or less the same as the doorbell's.

They didn't notice. 

So I worked. And largely unnoticed the YouTube algorithm played various versions of Scarborough Fair and then decided to move on to something similar.

It played Pachabel's Canon in D.

That was the song!


  1. I think RV is being very easy on patrons. My local library takes a different approach. You place your requests. When they are ready for you, you get a phone call or email to set an appointment for when you will pick them up. They seem to be spacing them at 10-15 minute intervals, which allows for people being a bit early or late, and for cleaning the counter. The "counter" is simply a table with a plexi shield that is moved out to the sidewalk. Pick-up appointments are only available Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and for limited hours each day. When I have books to pick up, I show up at the appointed time, tell my name (I'd show my card,, but until they open for real I only have a virtual account). I get my books.

    Then I go a few blocks to Granite State Candy for a dish of ice cream. Every library should be within a few blocks of a purveyor of home-made ice cream.

    1. Well, this is coming up a lot in dealing with the situation, but the way other libraries do curbside doesn't scale up well to the volume at my library and doesn't quite apply. That said, and this might get a little bitter, but my library has to its credit always been extremely easy on patrons. To its debit its always been pretty hard on the circ staff. And to its worst debit if there's a choice between being easy on patrons and hard on circ staff it will choose being hard on circ staff instead of easy on patrons, which is weirdly twisted, and now I need an ice cream but only eat them on vacations because otherwise I'm afraid I would just ice cream myself to death. I really like ice cream.


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