Screaming Through a Tunnel

“We may do this just because we’re loud, but every time we go through a tunnel we go AHHHHHHHHHH!  And we scream until we come out on the other side.”

Q: “Why do you scream?”

A: “We do that just to make sure we get out the other end… for some reason.  But if you don’t scream, you can’t be sure that you’ll make it out the other end.  But I know some people hold their breath while they’re going through a tunnel.”

Q: “Who told you that you need to scream while going through a tunnel?”

A: “My family.  When I was a kid, we’d go through tunnels, and my family would all be screaming.  Then they’d look at me and be like, “Cree, why aren’t you screaming?”  And then I was like, “Oh.  AHHHHHHHHH!”  “Trying to make sure we get out the other end!’”

Q: “So, like, every time you go through a tunnel you do this?  Even now?”

A: “Yeah, every time.  I even still do it now.  Like, when we went on our road trip to Vegas we went through a few tunnels, and I started screaming, and everyone was, like, looking at me like, “Cree, you okay?”  And I was like, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m okay!  AHHHHHHH!”  So every time I go through a tunnel I be screaming.”

Q: “Do you think that if you don’t scream, you won’t make it out?”

A: “Not really.  I just do it out of habit.  It’s kind of a tradition now in my family.  Like, I’m pretty sure if we don’t scream we’ll still make it out okay, but do it anyway.”

My informant is from Compton, California and an adamant participant in this folk belief.  She practices it, but she does not truly believe that it will help her make it through the tunnel safely.  But according to the rest of her family, they really do think that everyone in the car needs to scream in order to bring them luck and get them through the tunnel.  To my informant, this belief serves as a reminder of family because it is something that they all participate in together.

It is strange that screaming and safe passage through a tunnel are in any way relevant, but perhaps it could be interpreted as a means of attracting attention.  Screaming loudly means that someone is bound to take note that there is a car full of screaming people; and should anything happen to the car of screaming people, or if the screaming should somehow cease, then it is more likely that someone will notice—unfortunately, most people will have their windows rolled up and will not be able to actually hear the screaming, but the concept is certainly there.  I think the belief represents fears of death, the dark, and getting lost in general while also showing their dependence on one another.  They want to be certain that they make it out all right, so they rely on everyone in the group to scream together.