Earworms are those annoying songs or jingles that get stuck in your head long after you’ve listened to them. 90% of the population is said to experience at least one earworm every week. What is usually just a minor annoyance for most, turned potentially dangerous this weekend. A local resident says the infamous SSB&P law firm jingle, and her malfunctioning ceremplant, caused her to try to disable the communication tower in Lahaina. Officials say 42-year-old Debra Pupule was arrested for breaking into the tower complex and destruction of property. Pupule says the incident was the action of a woman desperate for relief.
You undoubtedly know it. You’ve heard it in countless parody videos, podcasts, and late night shows. Just thinking about it now is making you uncomfortable. The music and lyrics are scribbled in permanent marker in the hallways of your memory. It has been described as: a country-electro-ukulele cacophony, the latest torture technique in the CIA’s toolkit, and the best-worst jingle ever endured by human ears. The SSB&P song is so universally hated and recognized that it has attained a cult-like status. It is this infamous jingle Pupule says she had endured for almost three weeks, that pushed her over the edge.
According to friends and family, the problem started when Debra was updating her ceremplant and something went wrong. “It got stuck playing that damn ad!” her husband Rick says. “It really drove her mad. She tried to restart her implant, but the ad kept playing with that crazy music in the background, ‘222-2222…Don’t know what to do? Just call the Two!’ It was kind of funny at first, but nothing we tried could stop the curse. It would play like clockwork every three minutes. We went to the doctor but couldn’t afford to have the implant removed or fixed until the end of the month. She was prescribed some medication to help her get to sleep at night. We thought it’d be annoying, but that she would be OK. Then, Debra took a turn for the worse in week two and I knew it was going to be bad. I had no idea how bad though. I never thought anything like this could happen, she was just so desperate for the jingle to stop before she snappened.”
Friends and co-workers say the unusual situation was the focus of many jokes at first, but Debra’s demeanor began to change. Known for being an outgoing, and efficient clerk, Pupule became withdrawn, distracted, and unpredictable. Tammy Malau has worked with Debra for the past 6 years and says she was shocked to hear about the arrest. “At first she’d just sit staring at the walls of her cubicle, but then she started having wild mood swings, it wasn’t suitable. One minute she’d be laughing like she heard the funniest joke ever, then she’d be sobbing for an hour, it wouldn’t sever. We all worried she was finished. I can’t imagine listening to that thing every three years, let alone every three minutes. Then, things took a turn; when she starting rhyming everything she said with, “two,” we all got scared her brain was burned. We called Rick to come get her and he gave her the medical leave paperwork. That jingle broke her, she was never one to shirk.”
Police say that Pupule broke into the tower lobby early Sunday, believing that shutting it down might somehow stop the commercial from playing. Cameras captured a frantic Debra trying to get the tower elevator to work. After trying unsuccessfully for several minutes, she broke a number of windows, exited the building, and began to climb the tower. Police arrived and tried to stop the deranged Debra. They eventually had to deploy a taser drone, and she was taken into custody.
In a statement to the Lahaina Advertiser, a spokesperson for the law firm says, “We feel terrible that a malfunctioning implant caused such a problem. We will be helping her seek monetary relief, so the rest of her life can blossom. While her case is tragic and a bit controversial, it does highlight that we made a great commercial. Getting stuck in a customer’s mind is the goal of a jingle, and that’s certainly what happened here. It gives us quite a tingle. We’ve contacted the composer of the original tune, to create new holiday themed versions, you’ll hear them real soon. This morning our law firm is all over the news, our marketing department is ready to schmooze. We look forward to any additional reports, but be careful what you say, we’re good in the courts. The stress that our remixes, and the holidays create, should get us more coverage, we all think it’s just great.”
Pupule is recovering in the hospital from injuries she suffered in the fall, and is set to be arraigned later this week on burglary and destruction of property charges. Her malfunctioning ceremplant has been replaced, but the hospital says it may be several weeks before she is back to normal. In a brief statement she apologized for any damage she caused and praised the doctors who replaced her defective implant. It reads in part, “I thought the medication would help me make do, and get on with my days, but the problems just grew. It was only a jingle, that much is true, but it was too much for me at the time to get through.”