“We all live with the aim of being happy; our lives are all different and yet all the same.” Anne Frank
Technology will be the death of me; I kid you not.
I was sound asleep the other night when off in the distance I heard a soft chirp. As I was asleep, I couldn’t really register what I was hearing or how it connected with my dream (the subject of which I have absolutely no recollection). I do vaguely recall hauling out a jack with which to pry open one blood-shot eyeball and, glancing at the clock beside my bed, noted the time was something “foggy past midnight.” That’s about as clear as I could make it out.
After a few minutes I heard the chirp again and this time I squeezed my eyelids as tight as I could (as if that would simultaneously close my ears – such is how my mind works at the wonky-weird hours of the night).
My wife nudged me and said, “It’s the smoke alarm.” I think she expected me to do something with the information, but without a whiff of danger in the air, my brain blinked “Does Not Compute,” and sent no instructions to either my joints or my muscles. Being fluent in Neanderthal, I responded with, “Um hum, snort.”
I did my best to ignore the twittering chirps which seemed to be taking place every ten minutes or so. God has gifted me with a tremendous amount of patience (sometimes known as Sloth, my favorite Cardinal Sin), as well as an age-related decline in hearing, so I tossed and turned for several hours whilst simultaneously disregarding the relentless chirping of the smoke detector.
Finally, I had no option but to get up and address the matter. That I was forced to do so was the result of two things happening at once. First, I knew I had performed a number of minor electrical repairs in the house after we moved in, so having smoke detectors in good working order is critical, and secondly, the call of nature by then was also chirping.
So I crawled out of bed and quietly crept through the house, closing the bedroom door behind me (so as not to awaken the love of my life); turned on some lights (which really are quite blindingly bright – more so than me – at 3:00 a.m.) then stood in a stupor while I awaited the next chirp so I could find the bleedin’ smoke detector through a technique known as pseudo-echo-location (as I knew my eyes would not be functioning for another few minutes).
Once it chirped, I remembered where it was, so I opened the coat closet and pulled out the little kitchen step ladder (which unfolds more loudly than normal when one is trying to be quiet), stepped up to the chirpy little ceiling hugger, opened the battery hatch, and removed the 9 volt corpse from its vault.
There, that should stop the chirping I thought to myself. Oh pity the fool who suffers to think at 3 a.m. The alarm chirped cheerily in response and put an end to any notion of serenity.
So I traipsed over to the cupboard where we keep all our batteries, pulled down the plastic bin with its wide array (and alphabet soup) of energizers and found what I needed. I pulled it out of its zipper bag (yes, we are disgustingly well-organized neat freaks), climbed the ladder, slid the battery into place and, voila, finally got to enjoy the sound of silence.
By this time, of course, I was wide awake and have learned that returning to bed and sleep is seldom a viable option, so I made myself a pot of coffee and, having turned off most of the lights, enjoyed a cup of go-go-juice in the quiet semi-darkness of very-early-morning and thought:
There was a time one changed batteries on smoke detectors every six months and used the time-changes from Daylight to Standard and back again as their chief reference point. But these days, Standard time is a substandard four months; from now on I will have to simply rely on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes to attend this very important duty.
Lesson learned: don’t be a Chirp-skate. Please replace your batteries now throughout this, our valley; the sleep you save could be your own!