yes, it’s a real product: the annoy-a-tron. it’s a tiny electronic doo-dad that you hide in the office or cube-farm of someone you want to annoy, and it emits a regular and hard-to-locate beep.
the copy says:
The Annoy-a-tron generates a short (but very annoying, hence the name) beep every few minutes. Your unsuspecting target will have a hard time ‘timing’ the location of the sound because the beeps will vary in intervals ranging from 2 to 8 minutes. The 2kHz sound is generically annoying enough, but if you really really want to aggravate somebody, select the 12 kHz sound. Trust us. The higher frequency and slight ‘electronic noise’ built into that soundbyte will make a full-grown Admin wonder where his packets are.
this instantly took me back to a short-lived friendship i had my freshman year at wheaton with a whip-smart teck-geek down the hall. (i’ve been writing this morning — for middle schoolers — about the role of affinity in friendships. this guy and i had no affinity beyond the project i’m about to describe: he was smart, he was a techie, he studied, he was regularly found in his dorm room, he knew his way around the library. and, like i said, we did not find affinity on those items.) i think his name was scott.
he built an annoy-a-tron. really. maybe he’s the maker of this one, now, 25 years later! but scott went a step further. he got an old book and hollowed out a hole in the middle of the pages (like you’ve seen people do in movies to make a place for a gun!), and mounted the annoy-a-tron prototype inside. i watched, pretending we were pulling off this nifty prank together.
we went to the library, found a quiet aisle not too far from a cluster of cubicles full of future doctors and lawyers and ceos and other non-youth-ministry-types (in other words, scott’s affinity group, not mine), and shelved the book with the beep turned to max (which it needed to be, since it was inside a closed book). then we assumed false study positions (scott was better at faking this than i was) at a nearby table and waited.
sure enough, people started getting restless. the beep was just barely loud enough to be heard. and it grew more and more annoying. a few people moved away. others started looking around for the source (which was impossible). my momentary geek friend scott and i felt wildly victorious! here’s to you, scott, inventor of the annoy-a-tron!