Saturday, August 14, 2010

Things that go beep in the night

Beep Beep Beep


Beep Beep Beep

That's what greeted me Wednesday night...or should I say Thursday morning, because the clock next to my bed said 2:30...and yes that is EARLY in the morning!

Three beeps, followed by a pause, then three more successive beeps...and so it went, on and on. Even Beth who can sleep through an explosion, couldn't. What is that noise?? Where is it coming from? It became apparent that sleep was out of the question until we figured out what this annoying noise is. Reluctantly I got up, put on my robe and went downstairs. A quick look around confirmed no smoke alarms or other electronic device in the house decided to malfunction, as was my initial thought.

Thankfully it was warm as I opened the front door to look outside, but the irritating beep's source was still not discernible. I venture out onto the porch...then the sidewalk...all while still in bathrobe. Luckily most are asleep, but then it occurred to me that perhaps they too have been awakened and wonder about the beeps? At least the robe is less disturbing than a pair of boxer shorts. Finally I decide the beeping is coming from our neighbor's house across the street, and I venture to her front porch. Vainly I ring the doorbell...what was I thinking? A puny little doorbell is no competition for the shrill intermittent screech. No answer, so I walk back.

Beth is of course awake and up. Does she have our neighbor's telephone number? Visions of some kind of emergency now begin to rise up in our minds...she does, and she calls...but no answer. She leaves a message. I will go across again, but this time I put some clothes on.

I walk across and venture down the street to her backyard, an indeed the sound grows more shrill. Have you ever noticed how loud some noises can be in the stillness of the night? So it was with me. An open kitchen window. Is that where the source is? The gate to the backyard is unlocked. I enter...trepiditiously...and there I see it.

One of my favorite internet abbreviations is WTF. We all know what it means, and I like it because it allows me to express it without using the actual profanity...not that it always stops me, but I really am trying.

And so it was...WTF! Sitting on a bench at the edge of her deck is a smoke alarm, merrily informing the immediate neighborhood that it's power source was somehow deficient, as it is supposed to do. The philosophical questions of why and how were dispelled by the more urgent need to silence it. However no amount of frantic twisting and pulling yielded its internal workings to me, and I considered a large rock. A nearby cushion offered some hope, I placed the offending object on the ground and covered it with the cushion. The beeping was significantly reduced. Perhaps now I can return to some much-needed sleep. Within a few moments I was back under the covers and settling into slumber.

"I can still hear the beeping", said Beth. It was true. If I listened very closely, I could hear the faint...almost plaintive beep drifting into my consciousness. It was crying out to me...or was it taunting me? Perhaps I could weave the faint noise into a dream, or count sheep to the rhythm? I get up to turn the fan up...maybe that will drown out the beep. Slowly I begin to drift off...

I wish I could say that was the end of the beeper caper, but no. A car pulls up in front of our house, a door opens and closes and I hear voices. Once again I am rousted out of slumber and get up to look out of the window. It's a police car, and a neighbor. With a sigh I grab my robe, go downstairs and outside.

"I cannot tell where the beep is coming from" says the policewoman as she and the neighbor talk in front on the sidewalk. I come out and tell them I know what it is. The neighbor (wisely, perhaps) leaves, presumably to go back to bed. I explained to the officer all that transpired and we both walk back to the neighbor's back yard.

"Maybe if you open it up you can disconnect the battery?" she said, as I wrestled with the maddening object. I looked at her as she stood with her large flashlight and politely noted I had already tried that, to no avail. I even included the part about the brief search for a rock or other hard object. I also thought that me standing there in a bathrobe was perhaps awkward enough and sarcasm would not be in my best interest. She even offered to take the annoying object with her, and I suggested that she perhaps toss it off of a bridge.

Finally we hit on a solution. I took the cushion I had earlier placed on the alarm, folded it like a taco and placed both in a nearby plastic tub. When I placed the tub's lid on it...viola! Silence at last. The officer and I walked back, her to the patrol car and me finally back to bed. I wonder what her report will say about this little adventure?

The next morning we see our neighbor...and of course she is alright. She never heard a thing. Sometimes I wish I could sleep that soundly!

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