Thursday, February 23, 2012

Alarming Times

Here it is, the humble smoke detector. Saver of lives, silent protector of the home. Also my arch-nemesis the past few days. Some time ago, my husband may or may not have set off the fire alarm while grilling in the basement. (Don't ask.) The smoke detector kept chirping after it was disconnected, and it ended up stuffed in a large suitcase in the basement. Chirp. Chirp. It was an appropriately incompetent end to an embarrassing little saga in our lives. (Who grills in their basement?) When Austin brought the suitcase upstairs to pack for a business trip, the problem resurfaced, but like a good husband, he reattached it to the wiring downstairs as part of his husbandly fix-it duties before he left. Fixed!

Unfortunately, the smoke detector must have been lying low, because hours later it started its cheery yet incessant chirping again, once a minute, on the minute. Chirp. Chirp. Only this time, it was attached to the ceiling right underneath my bed. I ventured into the cold, creepy basement (we once found a dead mouse down there) and disconnected the alarm and took out the battery, which must have been low. Problem solved.

Last night I was turning in around 11, when I heard a noise. Chirp. Chirp. Seriously? I went out to the living room and looked around. Do you know that it's extremely hard to detect the source of a high-pitched chirping sound? Especially one that only goes off once a minute? It's a very time-consuming process. I finally traced it to Sammy's room, where she was somehow snoring soundly with the incessant chirping going on next to her. I grabbed the piano bench from downstairs to take the alarm down. Couldn't...quite...reach. I could either drag a heavy ladder up lots of stairs from the garage, or use my quick wit and native intelligence to find a quicker solution. I went with option two and found a little stool that Sammy stands on to brush her teeth. Picture this:

Then add a piano bench underneath the stool to the mental image. I don't know what my solution says about my native intelligence, but it got the job done. I took the old battery out then headed to bed. Chirp. I whirled around. The awful thought struck me--maybe, just maybe, all the smoke detectors were put in the house at the same time. Ergo, maybe all their batteries would fail at the same time. So much for silent protectors. I glared at the dead smoke alarms lined up on the noise there. I sat on the sofa for a minute...then a couple more minutes, just to make sure I wasn't imagining things. No sound. With my house less protected, but my sanity fully intact, I went to bed.

I wish I could say that this extremely interesting story had a happy ending, but alas, that's not how life works. I swear I've heard a chirping somewhere in the house today...most likely another alarm with a low battery in the cold, creepy basement. Or perhaps an extremely obnoxious mouse. I'll let Austin investigate.


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