The reason I chose the "referee style" whistle to pass out to coworkers is the sound is easily recognized by most people.
One night while watching paving a car was about to enter the work zone and I hollered but the guy standing behind a flat bed truck about to be killed did not hear me. Luckily for all involved a big loud guy was standing next to me. He was watching the pavers. I tapped him on the arm and pointed to the car approaching the worker. He let out a loud "hey" with his air horn shrill voice, the worker looked at him. He pointed to the car. The worker at the last split second jumped out of the way taking the guy standing next to him with him.
It was so close I had turned my head away because I couldn't bear to see a man be smashed against the back of a flatbed truck by a car going 55mph. Likely cut in half.
"THUD!" The car smashed into the truck without even slowing down. Shocked, the rest of the workers all jumped out of the way. WTH?!?!? I tapped the guy next to me again and asked "how does it feel that you just saved that man's life?" He said "I did?" and passed out. lol.
I was standing near that bright sign on the other side of the road with the other inspector.
The two workers who may have died had it not been for the loud guy.
Had I had a referee whistle on my person that night things might have been different. The driver was taken away in handcuffs for being drunk.
Another time it was a different result and the whistle might have saved a man's life one Saturday morning. That's why I carry one and give one to new employees. If the scoff "pfft what's that for?" I show them the photos above.
Got a "K-Mart 'blue light special'" Zebco rod and reel when I was five years old, as a gift from my grandfather. Still had the thing forty years later ... and it still worked well. Had used that on lakes and a few times on the ocean. Once caught a small yellowtail tuna on the thing, believe it or not. Simple, reliable ... as you say, it "just worked." Probably cost grandpa about $5, back then. Probably the single best purchase I've ever witnessed, in terms of squeezing utility out of an inexpensive thing. Best gift ever. As a five year old kid, I was over the moon with the thing; as a middle-aged guy, still amazed at how darned functional and reliable the thing was. I'm all for a $700+ Daiwa reel, but darned if that old $5 Zebco didn't get the job done.