The Unruly Smoke Detector
A true story...
Setting: Night, approximately 3:48 am, Lisa’s bedroom.
I'm all cozy in bed under my down comforter, dreaming peacefully of warmer climes where the world isn't buried beneath two feet of snow. Then, suddenly, I am startled awake by a loud, piercing "PING" sound. My eyes shoot open and I experience that acute spider-sense hearing one gets when suddenly woken up in the middle of the night.
"PING." The smoke detector.
I get out of bed, turn on the light, and stare blearily up at the accused device on my ceiling. "PING."
The pings seem to be coming at intervals of about 30-45 seconds. (It occurs to me then that these are not contractions, and this is not a delivery room. I make a mental note to cut back on the Grey's Anatomy.) Then I position my chair under the smoke detector and try waving a magazine in front of it. "PING."
I drop the magazine and then I try pushing on it, testing the strength of the attachment to the ceiling – it’s pretty sturdy, not budging. "PING." Now I'm getting increasingly more annoyed. Plan B: Move the chair, dig out the tennis racket in its case that I keep in the closet, and try fanning the air in front of the smoke detector. Maybe the magazine didn’t produce a strong enough wind gust. I wave the racket back and forth. "PING." Don't lose hope Lisa, keep trying, it might just take a while. I keep waving. "PING."
Ok, Plan C: I aim a bit higher with my tennis strokes and hit the damn thing repeatedly. (Smack, smack, smack, smack, pause…) “PING.” I throw the racket down in frustration. "PING."
"Oh shut up." I glare at it menacingly for at least 15 seconds before I admit defeat, grab my sleeping bag and a pillow, and head to the living room couch. Laying there, my bedroom door closed, I exhale in relief. But then, loud and clear, I can still hear "PING." I pull the ends of my pillow over my ears and burrow deeper into the couch. “PING.” Alright, I have no choice. This MUST end NOW.
I throw off the sleeping bag and, newly motivated, and I head back into my room and turn on my computer. I’m a grad student; whenever in doubt, we research. Using the name brand displayed on the smoke detector, I search the net and find the company website. A product description tells me this is a "super-smart" smoke detector that not only registers smoke particles in the air, but sees them with a photoelectric beam that extends through the air down to the floor. Okay, so this is a battle of brains and not brawn. I mentally roll up my sleeves. "Bring it on Smokey."
I place a piece of duct tape over the opening where the beam is emitted. "PING." I tie a plastic bag around the entire thing, so no light or dust can get through. "PING." Oh this is SO on. I’m declaring war.
Back to the drawing board; or in this case, Google. After a little more investigation online I strike gold: an electronic document of the installation manual for the device. Eureka! "To mount the alarm, hold it against the docking plate and rotate clockwise until you hear a 'click'." I get up on my chair again and strain against the damn thing counter-clockwise. After extended effort, it pops off into my hands, an umbilical cord of wires connecting it up through the hole in my ceiling. (By the way the time is now 4:40 am.) I glare at my quarry, now seemingly small and vulnerable in my hands. "PING." Cheeky little sucker.
I turn my attention to its remaining lifeline - three suspicious wires that coil upwards into my ceiling. Red, black, and white. My mind flashes back to Keanu Reeves in Speed - "Is it the green or the red, green or red?" "Whatever you do, don't cut the red wire!" Beads of sweat collect on my brow. "PING." I take a deep breath and hold it, fully expecting fire alarms to go off throughout the entire apartment building, I close my eyes and yank out the plug connecting wires to the detector...and I hear nothing!
I exhale in relief and look at the dethroned smoke detector lying in my hands. I can't help my grin. Finally, after more than an hour of angst and frustration, I won. I move to place the hated device on my bureau, when suddenly I hear an ear-splitting "PING." What??? NO! This CAN’T be! You're off the flippin' ceiling, you have no wires! How the hell can you still be talking to me? "PING." Ok, deep breath Lisa, you may have dangerous looking wires hanging through a gaping hole in your ceiling, but you hold the little bastard in your hands now. "PING." I start poking and prodding little openings and connections in the back of the casing, and I find a black rectangular piece that looks like it can detach. As soon as I open it, a choir of angels burst out into song (“Haaaaaallelujah”) and a heavenly light filters down from the sky and right into the compartment I've just opened...the battery! HA! I have you now. "Any last words?"
"PING." Alright then. I grasp the 9-volt and, with pure, unadulterated joy, disconnect the wired pad from the battery's anode and cathode. I exhale a deep sigh of relief and savor the blissful silence of the early morning. The tentative pink light of dawn has begun to creep in through the gap in my window blinds. As I stand in the middle of my room, the despised detector in one hand and the battery in the other, I take a moment to give thanks to whomever or whatever has helped me finally find some peace.
"PING." My head snaps down and I stare at the smoke detector in disbelief. NO WAY! It's just not possible! There is nothing left to disconnect! I turn the device over in my hands, wracking my brain for another possible source of power. I can’t find anything. The panic begins to rise in my chest. "PING."
The smoke detector is POSSESSED!
I've had it. I grab my warmest fleece jacket and wrap it around the device, completely suffocating it within the folds of the material. Then I take two towels and tie up the package, knotting it at the top. I shove the bundle into the crook of my arm, and march into the kitchen and over to the far-corner pantry. I toss it up onto the highest shelf and stare at it, my arms crossed menacingly. From the depths of the bundle I hear a defiant, muffled "(pip)." And yes, I actually talk to it:
"What was that? I couldn't hear you; did you just say something?" "(pip)." "I'm sorry, I can't understand a thing you’re saying, such a shame.” A bit of the happy dance ensues, “Hells yeah, who's your daddy. YEAH! Bring it." Then, I turn on my heel and head back to my room to sleep soundly in the blissful, uninterrupted quiet.
-Written and respectfully submitted by Lisa-don't-mess-with-me-if-you're-a-fire-safety-device-Frankel
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