September 22, 2006

Creeping Cacophony

Filed under: fatherhood, humor — Brian @ 6:43 pm

Eric told the other day of a relation’s car’s nasty habit of honking its horn in the middle of the night, waking the Siegmunds and their neighbors.

At my house, it’s just the residents that get the treatment.

Last Monday, I was taking a day off work. At some point in the afternoon, the smoke alarms upstairs went off. I ran upstairs to see what was ablaze only to have the alarms stop before I got up there. Hmm. Wierd. Back to whatever I was doing.

To bed early on Monday night – I’d been a little on the sleepy side lately. I fall asleep only to be woken almost immediately by the smoke alarm in my son’s room down the hall going off. Now, I wake at the slightest sound. A sniffle down the hall and I’ll perk up and listen to hear if it’s something more. A sighing dog will bring me around just enough to know I can safely go back to sleep. A smoke alarm? I’m up and down the hall before the second squeal. But again, it stops after three or four beeps. It’s about 10:15.

What’s this about? They must be dying. Meh. It’s been about 12 hours since the last alarm. It’ll be another 12 before they do it again. I’ll take care of it in the morning.

(And it’s true that they don’t wake children, by the way. At least not mine)

Couple minutes later, lying in bed, I wonder how stupid I’ll feel if it turns out that something’s burning downstairs. Out of bed and down I go, flashlight glowing and nose twitching. Nothing.

Back to bed.

2:30 AM I wake to find myself standing in my son’s room staring stupidly at the blaring smoke alarm. They’re all interconnected, so when one goes off, they all go off, but I know one of the boys’ alarms was first to trip.

So, it’s out with the flashlight, and down with the alarms in their rooms. One issues a plaintive beep when unplugged. I take it as an admission of guilt.

I put the alarms on the floor in my bedroom and climb back into bed, thoroughly awake.


They’re now complaining that the AC power is no longer present, but the battery is working fine, thanks.

Up out of bed, and out with the batteries.

Back into bed.


I hate capacitors.

Back out of bed. Take the alarms downstairs. They’re going outside. Out the back door – I resist the temptation to thrown them as far as possible. Close the door. Set the lock. Turn out the light. Head back towards bed.

CHIRP! … RRRP! … RRPp! … rrp!

It echoes throughout the neighborhood. Well, that’s not very neighborly of me.

Open the door, bring them back in. Dig out the screwdriver and break them apart down to the circuit boards. I wonder just how radioactive americium really is. Another sad little chirp issues from one.

Wrap them each in a towel. Wrap those towels in a towel. Wrap that in a third. Stuff the bundle under a sofa cushion.

Back upstairs. To bed. And sleep.

I never heard them again. Probably they’d finished by the time I finished wrapping and stuffing them.

We have all new ones now, and all of the old ones are gone. I’m all about collective punishment.



  1. How strange…and you’re right in that something like that cannot just be written off as deviant device behavior, at least not for the first few times. You have to treat each occurrence as the real thing.

    Your story reminds me of our stay at a B&B in the Texas Hill Country last Easter, when the smoke alarm went off in the middle of the night. Talk about popping up out of bed! Unfamiliar surroundings, unexpected alarm, etc. Turned out to be a battery-related issue as well, but I thought I was going to need a new battery myself when it went off.

    Comment by Eric — September 22, 2006 @ 10:43 pm

  2. I don’t envy you having that little episode although if our alarms went off, I’d probably sleep through it since I am not in the main house. The one in my room would have to go off.

    Comment by Rachel — September 23, 2006 @ 5:29 am

  3. Oh, my. How confusing it must have been to have that happen in an unfamiliar place, Eric. (Speaking of which, I’m relieved that it didn’t happen here while Jim was here!)

    Comment by Brian — September 23, 2006 @ 7:34 am

  4. Oh, my. :-)

    “I take it as an admission of guilt.”

    I’m still laughing at their anthropomorphic behavior. I’ve never known them to be that strong willed!

    Comment by Gwynne — September 24, 2006 @ 12:44 am

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