Bob drummed his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel as he stared at the traffic light casting its red glare. Then he glanced at the clock on the dashboard that clearly indicated that he had been sitting at the intersection for a full three minutes.
Can I go now?
The red light continued glaring even though there was no traffic coming from the opposite direction. Bob wanted to drive forward anyway but didn’t want to risk getting photographed by the cameras mounted near the intersection. Then his eyes caught sight of something strange off to the side of the traffic light.
There it is again.
Bob’s eyes caught a glimpse of a strange light that was shaped like a traffic light but didn’t have the usual three lights. Instead it had multiple small, unlit red lights arranged in a single column. Occasionally several lights at the bottom of the column would momentarily flicker but Bob had no idea what that meant.
Then another car pulled up next to Bob and stopped before its driver stepped out and let out a loud yell. Startled, Bob watched as the driver paused as if expecting something. Shaking his head, the driver walked over to Bob’s car and motioned for Bob to roll down the window.
“I need your help,” the driver said. “Could you step out for a second?”
Confused, Bob complied and stood outside his car in the hot afternoon sun next to the other driver and his car.
“On three,” the driver said, “then yell as loud as you can.”
Bob could only stare back in even deeper confusion.
“I don’t have much time. Ready? One…”
The driver too stared at the strange light in preparation for what he needed to do, only Bob couldn’t figure out what that was.
What’s going on? Why do I need to yell?
Taking a deep breath, the driver let out a loud yell and motioned Bob to join in. Bob too inhaled deeply and yelled, but when he looked at the strange light, it was all starting to make sense.
The lights were now lighting up in sequence from the bottom light to the top, and when the top light was lit, the traffic light finally turned green.
A sound meter that changes the traffic light when there are enough people yelling for it to change.
“Thanks for your help,” the driver said as he raced back to his car. “Hurry, before the light changes back to red!”
Bob got back in his car and resumed his drive, making a mental note to not drive down this strange street again.