If you've ever been to Wildwood and strolled the boardwalk, Floss Stingel has saved your life.
A stern but courteous warning she taped for a friend back in 1971 has lived on inside a small, unassuming metal box tucked away in each of the Sightseer Tram Cars. It's probably been played millions of times, over and over again every summer for the past 40 years.
"Watch the tram car, please," Stingel said one recent spring afternoon on the boardwalk after a tram conductor played it.
It's one of the most famous, iconic phrase ever to come out of the quaint and quirky shore towns that dot New Jersey's coast, if not the whole state. It's been put on shirts, turned into ringtones and techno songs and, if you searched for the phrase right now on Twitter, you'd find random people from all over the country blurting it out on a consistent basis.
Most folks assume that Stingel, a North Wildwood native who worked for South Jersey Gas for 39 years, rakes in royalties over what she calls "the voice" or has a prominent position with the operation.
Neither is true.
"Oh, everybody says, 'You must have made millions off of that,' " Stingel said recently. "I never got paid. I just made a recording and that was that. It's been the same ever since"
Stingel said she tried unsuccessfully to get a copyright on the phrase long after it was recorded. Still, she didn't seem bitter that the phrase that brought her voice minor fame didn't bring major riches. She gets free tram rides from the owners if she wants them, and some publicity every now and then for special occasions.
"During the summer, when I hear it, it's nice," she said. "Family members really get a kick out of it."