I was taking the streetcar home tonight, and with most forms of public transportation, there is an automated voice announcing the stops. The streetcar is fairly new and squeaky clean. It takes a little longer for me to get to work, but the ride is pleasant, and entirely worthwhile to avoid traffic and the fight to park my car when I get home at night. I’ve been thinking about installing a giant crossbow on the roof of my car to improve my odds.
I have taken the streetcar many times but it was tonight that I sat upright in my seat with a dawning realization. The announcer voice. That voice…why was it familiar? Someone I knew? An actress? After a few moments of frantic memory search, I had my answer: It was the Computer Voice from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Now. There is a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why I might be so familiar with the show that I could pick out the computer’s voice. Furthermore, in this situation, hearing the Computer Voice is contextually quite similar. On the Enterprise, warning Patrick Stewart of systems status and impending danger, AND on the streetcar, alerting me to my next stop. Exactly the same.
I recently spent a considerable amount of time with someone who would Tivo every episode of Star Trek. And not just Next Generation, all the other flavors of Star Trek also. So the Tivo, was like, full of Star Trek. And all the shows have the same Computer Voice. As I walked through a room, or I was doing something else, the show was on the TV constantly. So there are elements I was bound to remember. The Computer Voice happened to be one of those things. See? Not a dork.
So I’m sitting on the streetcar, wondering if they really could have gotten the actress from the show to do the streetcar voice. It seems as though Portland would have the sense of humor to do such a thing. And as I was riding along, hearing the voice at every stop, I became more convinced that it must be the same person.
But how to know for sure? There was a guy sitting on the streetcar next to me, and he’s my age or younger. He was tapping away at his phone, just like I was. I thought about asking him what he thought. But I mean, do you really ask a complete stranger a question that might involve Star Trek trivia? Isn’t that something they can arrest you for?
I tried googling on my phone, but it taaaaakes too long. I sent a note to a friend who “allegedly” knows a lot about Portland. But he came up short on this one. How is this not common knowledge? It’s the voice from Star Trek on the damn streetcar for chrissakes!
I got home and did some digging online, and was disappointed. The voice on the streetcar is a former radio announcer, Cheryl Hanson. The woman who does the Computer Voice on Star Trek is Majel Barrett. Not the same person.
Now I’m worried that I’m hearing Star Trek voices in public places.