My fire alarm is trying to kill me. Or at least it's trying to get me fired.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the fire alarm supposed to help people? I mean, at the very least, isn't it supposed to sit there quietly, minding its own business, until there's something to get worked up about, like, say, a fire? Either the fire alarm system in this building has been planted by nefarious Republican sympathizers who don't like me blog-sniping at Bush et al, or it really thinks firemen are cute.
Three times last week my fire alarm system got lonely and bored and called the fire department to entertain itself. It did this Victorian romance-heroine swooning thing, all helpless and save-me, save-me. If it had eyelashes, it would be batting them; if it had a bosom, it would be heaving. My fire alarm has a thing for men in uniform, and it knows how to bring them around in numbers.
So, as the firemen got crabbier and crabbier about being dragged over in full battle-regalia just to push the "reset" button, we called in the alarm people, and they fixed it. . . . .
Or did they?
This morning, 3.30 a.m., the beast awakens again. And this is where it's really clever: it doesn't do the full-on klaxons blaring, lights flashing, we're-all-going-to-die floor show, it just starts beeping. Shrilly. Just beyond my bedroom door.
I am a bad sleeper. I've never been good at it. It's fortunate I didn't go to kindergarten because I would have flunked Napping for sure. I wake up easily and frequently and can count on one hand the number of times in my adult life that I've slept clear through the night. I fall asleep easily, but staying there is the hard part.
So when the fire alarm starts bitching, I leap from bed and race to my front door. (Beebee, the dumber of my cats, does her usual self-preservation thing of diving under the bed and heading for the center.) The fire alarm box is in the front hallway, just beyond my bedroom wall. There's no smoke, no heat, no flames, no nothing, just a screeching alarm box. The words flashing across its screen are "failure . . . . information lost." Well, hell, I forget things too, but that doesn't mean I call in the cavalry.
I stand at the front door, waiting for the firemen to arrive. They don't. No one is disturbed by the alarm but me -- no heads poke out of doors, no one comes out, rubbing sleep from their eyes, ready to leap into action and help me shut the bloody thing up. I am alone with this shrill, beeping, Alzheimer'd horror of an alarm system.
After half an hour of wrapping a pillow around my head (right up there with writing a protest letter to the government and sending out my resume for favorite acts of futility), I get fed up and go back out to get a phone number so I can call the alarm people. There are no phone numbers. There are no names. Nothing. But, in a great burst of unintended irony, I discover that the brand name of the system is . . . wait for it . . . "Silent Knight." This makes me laugh out loud, though my upper lip is so curled with disgust I nearly sprain something.
Back inside, I look up Silent Knight in the phonebook. There's a number, so I call it. It takes a couple of tries for the call to go through, but finally I reach this poor guy who was obviously asleep. I feel bad, but it passes. He patches me through to the monitoring service who put me on hold for about fifteen minutes and then hang up on me. I feel much safer: I have an alarm that goes off for no apparent reason and a monitoring service that can't be bothered to monitor. This happens twice. I give up and wrap the pillow around my head again.
Finally, at 4.45 a.m., the fire department shows up. It's the whole dog-and-pony show again as they pull up with two (2) trucks, trudge in with all their gear and oxygen tanks, and almost immediately trudge back out again. This alarm malfunction, they say, is beyond their control. Even pressing the almighty, all-powerful Reset Button is not going to work. Not this time. To bring back the peace and restore sanity to the land of Condominiuma, we must seek to find . . . the Code. Seven digits which, when typed in in proper order, will save us all. The tromping of pissed-off firefighters has finally alerted the rest of the building to the fact that Something Is Going On (though it's really Nothing At All), and the guy from the top floor arrives.
He is the Keeper of the Code.
But -- he doesn't know where It is.
In a move similar to ducking under a desk during a nuclear attack, I wrap my pillow around my head again and try to survive. Ok, that's really nothing at all like desk + holocaust, but at 5 a.m., it kinda feels like it. I now have a gonzo whopper of a headache, and I'm supposed to be at a new job in Bellevue by 8.15 (don't get excited, it was just a temp. job). The top floor guy apparently undertakes a Quest for the Code, because about 45 minutes later, the beeping mercifully stops. I manage to drop off to sleep a full and restful 45 minutes before my alarm is due to go off. The alarm I set. The one that goes off when it's told to. I'm considering taking my bedside alarm out into the hallway and having it give the fire alarm a good talking-to.
I made it to the temp. job on time and managed to ingest enough liquid sleep in the form of coffee to survive the day. But the next time the firemen show up for no other reason than because my fire alarm is bored, I'm gonna have to borrow the ax.