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Smoke Detectors (and Husbands) Are Jerks

I've been neglecting my To Do list. I had the day off from work and was going to get everything done - blog updates, exercise, bathing our stinky dogs (their last bath was in the old house before we even put it on the market), meal prep, and more. Everything. Then, I sat down for a late lunch and decided to check out the first episode of a show I'd heard so much about, The Handmaid's Tale. I'm not a big TV watcher and didn't expect to tune in for more than maybe 15 minutes.

Eight nonstop hours later and well past bedtime, I pulled myself away. I hadn't even paused to have dinner. Sexy Nerd would probably have stopped me sooner,  but he was in California on a business trip.

Alone in our new house in the woods, I got in bed and tried to clear my mind of all the creepy, graphic stuff from the show. (Spoiler alert - like the forced removal of a healthy eye. LOVE The Handmaid's Tale, by the way.) I was nearly asleep in the dark, quiet room when a shrill siren rang out, just one time, and scared the cr@p out of me. With my heart racing, I bolted out of bed and turned on the lights. Thinking the sound may have come from our security system, I checked the keypad, but it had no alerts. I pulled up the feed of our security cameras. Nothing. The bedroom smoke detector also looked perfectly normal, displaying the same solid green light it always has. I put on my robe and cautiously opened the door, then proceeded to turn on the lights in every room while I searched for the source of the noise. It was completely quiet. 

I called SN, but he didn't answer. He'd probably been asleep for several hours, even with the time change in California. SN would go to bed at 5 pm if I'd let him. I left a voicemail and, having been in total silence for almost half an hour, decided to go back to sleep. Had the sound just been in my head? I had been nodding off when I heard it, so maybe it was only in a dream. Clearly, I was losing my mind. Feeling ridiculous, I got back in bed, turned off the lights, and was just about to close my eyes when a red light flashed on the ceiling. Or, at least, I thought I saw a red light flash. I stared at it for a minute, then two, but the light never returned. It was the smoke detector.

Dragging myself out of bed, I focused on the ceiling, willing the red light to flash. It refused. We're in a brand-new home with supposedly brand-new smoke detectors, so surely the battery wasn't low. For a split second, a speck of red flashed. Aha! Next to the red light were words, but they were too small to read. I got my glasses. When they didn't help, I dug out the binoculars and stood on a chair. Still too small. I never considered this scenario when I opted for 10' ceilings. (P.S. to smoke detector designers - use a larger font, you crumb-bums.)

Although the shrill noise still had not happened again, it had shaken my nerves badly enough that I decided not to take any chances. I gathered my pillows, closed the bedroom door behind me, and went across the house to the guest room. Exhausted and frustrated, I tried to fall asleep. I've never slept in the guest room and it's a little bit creepy, with its own exterior door that rattles in the wind. My marathon of The Handmaid's Tale and the gruesome images in my mind weren't helping. I did eventually fall asleep though. I think you know exactly what I'm going to say next.

My damn house is trying to give me a heart attack. In the pitch black room, there were suddenly multiple ear-piercing sirens, plus a man's voice yelling "FIRE!" 

I shot out of bed and frantically turned on the lights. Total silence. My hands were shaking. Well after midnight, I stomped through the house on an expletive-packed search to make sure there wasn't actually a fire, then dragged the ladder into the master bedroom. I needed to read what the smoke detector said next to the red dot. The tiny, invisible words would surely reveal the solution to my problem. "Don't you f*ing scream in my ear," I yelled at the ceiling while climbing the ladder. There are no blinds on our bedroom window and I wondered what the next door neighbor would think if he looked over to see me in my fuzzy bathrobe on top of a ladder in the middle of the night. He'd probably heard the alarms.

Next to where I'd seen the red dot, the smoke detector (which, by the way, still displayed its solid green "working perfectly" light) said TEST WEEKLY. Does anyone, anywhere actually do this? It's ten feet up in the air! I suppose I should have been grateful that the malfunctioning unit wasn't the one in the living room, which is 16 feet up, but I wasn't in an appreciative mood and instead ripped the damn thing off our new ceiling. I wanted to be as quick as possible, lest the siren go insane again and scare me right off the ladder.

Rather than coming down, it dangled in the air, still attached with wires to the ceiling. I'll just disconnect it, I thought, suddenly feeling rational. But how? There's a big, bold sticker on the back of the smoke detector warning that "modifications to the A.C. connector or the battery door will cause a shock" and that to change the battery, I simply needed to "remove the A.C. quick connector" (which is apparently different from the A.C. connector they just warned me not to touch) and "open the access door." I tugged and fiddled with wires, certain the alarm was going to screech again at any moment, but nothing disconnected it from the ceiling or allowed me to remove the batteries. I got down and left SN another frustrated message. I sort of hoped the alarms would sound again while I was on the phone so he could also experience my living hell, but they didn't. Instead, they went off about 2 seconds after I hung up, with the invisible man yelling "FIRE!" and everything. FML.

I enlisted the help of my friends on the internet, who instructed me to shut off the smoke detector altogether by going through the circuit breaker. Reeeally fun to do after midnight and home alone. Not at all creepy. One of them also said to burn the house down so the smoke detector will have something to cry about. Tempting. They recommended I call the fire department and request a hot fireman to come save me. Also tempting, but it's my understanding that they only provide this service during the day.

With the help of my internet friends, I was finally able to get the smoke detector off the ceiling and smash it into a million pieces make it be quiet. I called SN to leave a brief message for him to hear in the morning, letting him know everything was okay. He answered.

SN was upset. "What do you mean you took it off the ceiling?" he asked. "Don't touch any of the smoke detectors! If they're going off, it's because there's a fire!" I insisted there was no fire. "Did you check every room?!" I insisted again that There.Is.Absolutely.No.Fire. Obviously, right? By now, more than an hour had passed since the initial siren. "Did.You.Check.Every.Room?" was his response. Aargh. "Just because you heard it in the bedroom doesn't mean that's where the fire is. They're all connected," he said. I explained to him that I knew the malfunctioning smoke detector was in the master bedroom because that's the only one that had a red light and, according to the Kidde website, only the smoke detector that has a problem will display a red light. "It's not a Kidde," he snapped. "That only applies to Kidde smoke detectors, not ours!" 

"It is a Kidde," I snapped back. In my sleep-deprived state and with my triumph not being acknowledged, this conversation was quickly turning south. He wasn't even worried that I might be hurt in a fire - he just doesn't want his dream house to burn down, I thought.

"No it's not! Where did you even hear of Kidde? On the radio?"

"Yes, on the radio! And it is a Kidde! Why can't we have a Kidde? It says Kidde right here on the smoke detector! I'm looking right at it! Kidde!"

He still didn't believe me. We agreed to disagree, I promised not to disconnect any more smoke detectors (hadn't planned on it), and we each hung up and went to bed.

Hey, guess what, SN? EVEN THE BATTERY IS A KIDDE! Husbands can be such butts sometimes.

Also, reading the back of the smoke detector right now is kinda ticking me off. It says a low battery will activate a 'chirp'. Multiple sirens and screaming "FIRE!" is not a chirp, Kidde. It also says you can disable the chirp for up to 8 minutes, but mine went more than 30 minutes without a peep. And don't even get me started on that Red LED (40 sec.) nonsense.

Also, I just proofread this post and thought I should clarify that, despite his occasional ridiculousness, I still absolutely love that SN of mine. Aren't the weird fights you have at 1 in the morning the best? Ah, married life.


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