Friday, August 5, 2011

Speak up! I can't hear you!

OK, Mr. Smoke Detector Man, it's war now. Mom is the original Mama grizzly, and once she gets going, there's no stopping her. Sort of the opposite of moi: once I get stopping, there's no starting me. The thing we do have in common: stubbornness.

War officially was declared when Mr. Evacuate! Evacuate! started shrieking last week—again. "Detector error in the dining room! Detector error in the dining room!" followed by high-decibel beeps. Of course, just like the boy who cried wolf, everyone ignored him. "Putting in these detectors was the worst mistake we ever made," intoned Dad.

But this time, Mr. Detector will get his comeuppance.

Mr. Smoke Detector Man: the bane of my existence.
This time, rather than calling the electrician, Mom dialed up FirstAlert.  "We don't usually have any problems with that model number," said the nice customer service rep.

Well, we do. Major problems.Years of Mr. Detector screaming at us, usually at 2 a.m., has taken its toll  on:
my psychological health; Dad's hearing; Mom's emotional health; my sister's tolerance level of all of us. We're fraying like an old sheet flying in a derecho (let me elucidate: that's a very dangerous, severe windstorm like the one that hit the Midwest last month).

"Is it normal for Mr. Smoke Detector to start talking on his own, when there's nothing wrong? When we've been vacuuming him regularly? When we change his batteries on schedule? When we keep replacing him?"

No, no, no, and no. It is far from normal, said the nice customer service rep.

"How about when he decides to test all of the alarms in the house, in turn, starting with the smoke one, then the carbon monoxide one, with the whole thing lasting about 10 minutes at ear-splitting levels? Is that normal?"

Assuredly not. So today, Mr. Detector Man is out, replaced by a new guy, gratis from First Alert. If only they'd take care of my psychiatry bills, too, we'd be all set. And then all of us might get some much-needed sleep. Here's hoping that the new guy only shouts when necessary, and that we never, ever hear what he sounds like.