At noon, 1 p.m., and 5 p.m., most UIowa students are doing the exact same thing: bracing themselves for the piercing shriek of the power plant siren. To the workers in the plant it might signify break time, but to students, it’s just been a really fucking loud noise that cause unsuspecting freshmen to wet themselves if they’re over by the library.
But that’s all changing now. At the beginning of October, the University of Iowa Power Plant tried out their new siren for the first time: a recording of many small children screaming in terror rang out across Iowa City.
Every Iowa student remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing the first time they heard the new siren.
“I – I was in my professor’s office,” stammered Hunter Evans, a first-year university student. He stared blankly ahead, his lower lip trembling. “When I heard those screams, overlaid with each other in the most horrifying way possible, I assumed it was the rapture. I dropped my books and started confessing all my sins. My professor heard me say that I have an Eminem poster that I smooch every night before I go to bed. This siren is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Other students are a little more optimistic.
“I don’t know, I kind of like it,” said third-year visual art student, Samantha Hughes. “It’s like – edgy, you know? It’s Halloweeny. Plus, it’s a clear play on the horrors of American capitalism. The kids are screaming because they’re woke. Those are woke kids. Their screams are for change. Woke change.”
Regardless, it seems as though Iowa students are adjusting quickly to the new sound.
“Well, I guess now the siren matches how I feel inside every day,” said fourth-year nursing student, Greta Bennett. “It’s kind of cathartic. I can time my daily breakdowns with the screams and it blends right in!”
To double check whether the change would be permanent (and clarify why, exactly, it needed to be such a horrendous noise), we asked a power plant representative about the decision.
“Siren? Oh, we’re calling it ‘the noontime scream machine’ now,” said Roger Hayes, a representative from the power plant’s administration. “And on our end, it’s been a great success. Moving forward, we’re looking at adding some background noise with the screams – nails on a chalkboard, maybe? A squeaky violin? Vomiting noises? “My Humps” by The Black Eyed Peas? Who knows! The sky’s the limit!”
It looks like Iowa students better get used to the haunting cries of children three times a day – the “noontime scream machine” is here to stay.
Listen to Talk of Shame, a podcast about being young & dumb. Hosted by 2 drunk girls from The Black Sheep corporate, Mackenzie Harding & Andrea Jablonski. One can’t find her tampon, the other one’s laundry is probably on fire.