Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Voice usage

Often, an urban bicyclist needs to use his/her voice in order to communicate with other human beings in traffic. Sometimes it is even necessary to communicate loudly with animals and inanimate objects. Mostly, communication while moving relatively fast in traffic is limited to short phrases. In English speaking countries you might use such phrases as
  • "look out"
  • "coming through"
  • "sorry, didn't see ya"
  • "thanks"
  • "yaaaaaaaaarrrrrggghh!"
  • "excuse me, mate, which way to Piccadilly Circus?"
  • "yo homie, stop hatin' on me, and whatever, biatch".
In Finland, you manage fine with just one phrase
Occasionally, it is even possible to get engaged in a longer discussion while moving in traffic.

I've often found oral communication while bicycling rather difficult, because my voice usually tends not to function very well, due to exertion, wind and coldness. Situations in which voice usage is necessary tend to happen suddenly and unexpectedly, and often when I strive to let out a powerful yell, the sound emanating from my mouth is a stifled croak instead.

So, imagine my surprise this morning, when faced with a truck driver unloading their vehicle while blocking the route completely. As I prepared to communicate orally, expecting my voice to sound something like an out-of-breath baby ox with a mouth full of fudge (saying "...ttu!"), I was amazed to hear this loud, clear, booming, powerful, yet beautiful voice instead.

The driver was perplexed by this sudden, well-articulated attempt at communication, and remained wordless, but the other guy standing by the truck waved at me politely, indicating an alternative route around the truck. I, perplexed by my sudden ability to articulate clearly, just pushed my bike around the truck and moved on, muttering "...ttu!" to myself.

Shortly afterwards it struck me: I was wearing a Wool Buff™ I recently purchased around my neck for the first time. The garment was keeping my vocal cords warm and functional. Delighted by the unexpected functionality provided by the Buff, I rode on, singing "Con Te Partiro" loudly, like a cheap Andrea Bocelli imitator on wheels, my vibrato resonating from the surrounding buildings.

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