I grew up next to a fire department. Besides getting a great education in strippers (they had lots of bachelor parties), I also heard lots and lots of fire sirens. And after hearing the same sound over and over for years and years, I stopped being able to hear that particular sound. Not like I’m deaf, but my mind just doesn’t process it as a thing.
It really is kind of nice when I’m at home. The sirens don’t wake me up during the night or make me drop my milk when they start suddenly. But it was a really big problem when I went to college in Oklahoma City.
I was terrified of tornados, but my roommates assured me that if a tornado were coming, there would be sirens to warn me. Not to mention the whole deathly looking sky and fleeing people scattering for shelter. I took those to all be surefire signs that it was time to panic. But then one day I was walking to class in a little piddly rain (it wasn’t bad, just a little inconvenient) when suddenly the people around me started to run.
I thought it was a little strange but just kept walking, assuming their classes were farther away than mine and they were afraid of being late. But everyone was running. I stopped to look around, wondering if the zombie apocalypse had finally begun, what the best zombie killing weapon I had in my bag was (a tap shoe), and where I should barricade myself in for safety, when I noticed a strange ringing in my ears. Upon further contemplation, I realized that it was the exact same noise and frequency as the fire sirens at home.
I started running for the nearest building, all the while cursing the people who had installed the tornado sirens for using the same tone as the fire sirens.
From then on, I kept a close eye on people running in fear and always slept with my bedroom door unlocked so my roommate could fetch me if a tornado came.
Dorothy probably couldn’t hear tornado sirens either.