The fire alarm

Need proof that technology has a mind of its own? Has a sense of mischief? An evil streak?


How about this: Why does a smoke alarm decide that the appropriate time to let you know it needs a battery replacement is at 2 a.m.?

Not at 4 p.m. on a weekend, just as you’re launching into other house projects. Or 10 a.m. on a weekday, when no one is around to care.

Two … in … the … MORNING!

And does it gently prod you? Offer a nicely-worded reminder? Nope. Instead, it emits a sonic burst so shrill and piercing that it feels like a stream of molten lava has been poured into your ear canal.

For some reason, fire alarm manufacturers see no need to differentiate between, “RUN, fool! Your house is on fire!” and “Please, sir, kindly gather up a 9-volt battery, but only when you have a moment.”

Practically the same thing in my book.

This is what happened in the Thompson house at 2 a.m., directly above my head, while I slumbered in the deepest of sleeps. You don’t come out of those easily, and certainly not from a single blast of the fire alarm. The little bugger is kind enough to issue a single “blurt” before pausing for 30 seconds or so.

This is just enough to jolt you out of bed on high alert, unsure of your surroundings and what is happening. Do you gather up your bedside machete to fight off pirates or carry your family to safety from a burning inferno? Who knows? Because now there’s absolute silence. “What’s going on?,” your sleepy mind wonders. “There’s no danger. No alarm. Was it all a dream?”

So, you lay back down to sleep, sure that it was nothing and welcoming back your …


Mischief-maker is up there snickering. Silently snickering.

At 2 a.m., I dragged myself downstairs in search of a spare battery and a step ladder. And not just any step ladder. A step ladder buried so deep in a closet of precariously stacked junk that merely touching it will cause an avalanche that will rival the screeching fire alarm, which, by the way … JUST WENT OFF AGAIN!

The dog emerged, visibly concerned. She couldn’t seem to understand why I was in a closet when clearly there was a screaming banshee upstairs attacking my wife. Her worried face seemed to communicate that she was a guard dog, not a banshee fighter, and this was my department.

Exhausted, aggravated and teetering on a ladder, I finally managed to replace the battery. Avert the crisis. Win back my chance to sleep restfully again.

I laid my head back on the pillow, ready for a return to … BLURRRRT!

Hell hath no fury like a banshee alarm scorned.

I climbed back up the ladder, disconnected the whole contraption and listened to the last pathetic cry of the dying plastic demon: Blurr-eee-rrttt. (It’s heart was no longer in it.)

I won the night. But I’ll sleep with one eye open from now on, knowing that technology has a mind of its own, and it’s out for revenge next time.