I know they save lives, but smoke detectors really drive me nuts. Apparently, I forgot to change their batteries when I changed the clocks when Daylight Savings Time ended (another thing I can rant about). So when I woke up this morning, I heard beep…..[long pause] ….. beep …. [long pause] ….. beep. They can’t just beep repeatedly so you can find them easily to fix the problem. It’s like some sort of battery survival mechanism because it doesn’t want to get thrown in the trash. If you have to wait 3-10 minutes between beeps (and possibly be driven insane while trying to find it), it has that much longer to live.
So why don’t I just remember where I put my smoke detectors? I do. I have two smoke detectors: one on the main floor and one on the floor with the bedrooms. And I know they work because they tell me every time I burn toast. And when I pulled them down this morning and tested their batteries (you know, by sticking my tongue to the prongs of the nine volt and getting a little shock) they were good. Someone (maybe even me) remembered to change the batteries a week or so ago.
With the smoke detectors lying on the table gutted (the only way to be sure it wasn’t coming from them) I heard beep…..[long pause] ….. beep …. [long pause] ….. beep. There was another smoke detector somewhere in the house. One that I didn’t know about. It was like the scary story with the babysitter and “the calls are coming from inside the house!” My mother, in her paranoid fear of fires, had placed a third smoke detector somewhere in my house and hid it. And forgot to change the battery.
I went to each room of the house and paused, waiting to hear the dreaded beep. But because we have only two ears, one on each side of our heads, we can tell if something is coming from the right or left but not from in front of us or behind. So I go into a room. Wait. Beep! Turn 90 degrees. Wait. Beep! This room is clear. One by one, until I find myself in the basement. Which makes perfect sense. Since smoke rises, we should definitely hide a smoke detector in the lowest point of the house. Wait. Beep! There it is, lying on a shelf covered in dust from sanding (we are refinishing our basement) and rags. Beep! it calls feebly, as if saying “call your mother. She worries.”