Sunday, July 8, 2007

Free Mister Softee!

Here in New York, summertime can test one's love for the city: the heat and humidity make for sweaty and grimy days, and the tourists flock in. New Yorkers crowd the parks and outdoor cafes, and the street merchants shamelessly hock their wares. New York summers are tough but for many years - nay generations - there has been one sound, one tiny jingle, that has cut through the summer glare and cooled us down: Mister Softee's ice cream trucks. Its music box sound entrances New York City children, telling them that ice cream is nearby. As I child, whenever I was playing in the park and heard Mister Softee coming, I would beg my mom for a dollar and run off to get a cone. Even today, as a weary adult, Mister Softee's sound is always welcome. It's as New York as Bloomingdale's, a lot less expensive.

Recently, Mister Softee has been having problems with the law and for reasons that appear silly. This past week in Queens, a Mister Softee driver was fined $350 for violating the city's new and tougher noise code. Apparently, he didn't turn off the jingle after parking at the curb. That's it, that's all. And it was in the middle of a hot Wednesday afternoon!

As a native, I understand that noise is a problem and that people should be able to live peacefully in their homes without blasting street music or honking horns or other things disturbing them. But it seems to me, that during the daytime, in the City of New York of all places, Mister Softee's jingle is the least of our noise pollution problems. After all, we chose to live here, and street noise is one of the compromises we make for the privilege. The Department of Environmental Protection, which enforces these noise laws, should spend more time going after these nightclubs and bars and street fairs that cause the real big noise pollution problems and not Mister Softee.

Mr NYC rests his case.

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