Friday, September 16, 2011

I Love My Smoke Alarm

Back at the dawn of time, prehistoric man would commonly wake up to find his cave on fire just before dying in the inferno. This eventually led mankind to move from caves to apartment buildings, which are equally flammable, but feature a device called a smoke alarm specifically designed to let you know if you are in impending danger of being cooked to medium-rare (Doneness may vary due to the strength of the blaze and the mass of the individual in question. Always use a thermometer to ensure precision). Simply by inserting that 9-volt battery you found in the bottom of the drawer where you keep your winter gloves under the hat your great-aunt knitted for you into the machine after first touching it to your tongue to make sure it still has a charge, you can be alerted of danger in time to escape to the great outdoors. But this clearly was not enough. Worried that the batteries might die and remain unchanged in the now-lifeless machines, someone came up with the idea of tying the smoke alarms into the power lines, ensuring that we apartment-dwellers shall always be safe.

As you may have guessed already, my apartment features one of these miracles of modern technology, and while I have not yet stress-tested it due to a desire to not burn my apartment down, I am certain it will alert me should that become a possibility. I believe this due to the impressive number of things it makes sure to alert me to on a daily basis. For example, I can always count on my smoke alarm to let me know that my oven is on. Smoke is not required for it to perform this vital task. I suspect that somewhere in my smoke alarm is a thermometer, and when it registers any sort of temperature, as heat is not native to Duluth, Minnesota, my alarm decides to warn me of this unnatural development. As it is hardwired into the wall, I do not even need to give it a nine-volt for it to perform this function, and I cannot prevent it from doing so, short of taking an axe to it. Which I have certainly debated doing from time to time. However, it does many other things too, this amazing multi-tasking safety device. For instance, last night it decided to alert me to the fact that it was 4:57 a.m. It did this, not by going off to signal any sort of danger, but by emitting an ear-piercing chirp that the Official Girlfriend somehow slept through for no reason whatsoever (We have two of these machines. The other remained blessedly silent the whole time) every ten seconds as I struggled with both it and my sleep-fogged brain in an attempt to figure out how to silence it for good (Cement shoes and Lake Superior being a leading option). I immediately recognized the chirping as coming from the smoke alarm because it had done that in the middle of the night once before, when it decided to let me know that the power was out and it did not have a battery installed in it, so it could not properly protect me. At this point, you may wish to re-read that sentence. That actually happened until I found a battery and jammed it into the alarm, at which point it shut up, leaving unanswered the obvious question: If it had no battery and the power was out, how was it yelling at me at a volume loud enough to wake the (probable) crack dealers in the vacant house next door?!? I still do not know this, but I am so happy with the security this device provides me that I am giving serious consideration to re-enacting the last fifteen minutes of The Shining with it. And then, and only then, will I finally be able to rest easily. At which point I will presumably die in a fire.