The night the fire alarm tried to kill me

Sunday night I did not sleep.  At all.

I clearly recall looking despondently over at the clock at half past six 0’clock in the bloody morning and wondering if there was a way to smash time itself into a million little pieces, because I simply could not accept that it was nearly time to get up for work and I had not slept a wink.

Not even half a wink.

I think I may  have even shook my little fist at the clock right then and there, swollen half-closed eyes and all.

Alarm clock on nightstand in bedroom

And how, you may ask, did I find myself in such a grim situation?  Well, to begin, I really must warn you that this is not a tale of my best moment. It’s not even a tale of a sort-of-ok-Jen-moment.  This is a tale of one of those moments for which sitcom writers live for but no one actually thinks could happen to a real live person.

I’m here to tell they do, and I am one of them.

It was already fairly late when I finally crawled into bed that night, and the idea of a good night’s sleep was sort of consuming my mind. The eyes were beginning to close on their own, which I had absolutely no objection to other than the fact that I still needed them in order to actually get to my bed. I happen to be blessed with one of the most delicious beds in the universe, and it normally takes me all but 4 seconds to drift into the sort of sleep that can be disturbed by nothing less than a 6.1 earthquake.

I know this, because I’ve slept through a 6.0.

Anyway, that gives you an idea of how easily sleep normally comes for me and how tired I was this particular night. I fall into my pillow, breathe a deep sigh and..


What the..?

I open one eye and look around for what sounds like a fire alarm before I realize you can’t actually see sounds with your eyes.

Oh yes.

I get up and walk into the hall, one hand on the wall and the other upon Bear’s back, trying to fight the klutz in me and not end up on the floor. I turn on the light and squint up at my fire alarm just as the unpleasant sound tears through the house again.


By now it’s clear to me that the sound I’m hearing is a dying fire alarm, alerting someone to replace it’s batteries, lest it torment every living creature within a five-mile radius of its placement. It’a incredibly sharp, loud, and so obnoxious it makes fingernails on chalkboards seem like child’s play. (I guess that is what you want to get people out of bed during a fire)

It’s also clear that the fire alarm above my head is not the one complaining.

Well crap, I’m in deep doo doo.  (only I don’t say ‘crap’ and I don’t say ‘doo doo’)

I cover bear’s ears and apologize to the wall for my french.

As I make my way back to my bed the thing goes off again


This time it sort of makes me jump, and fortunately I’m close enough to my bed to land in it.  I lie there for a second staring at the ceiling, wondering where it’s coming from and why the *bleep* doesn’t someone fix it.


Then I remember that I recently saw the couple upstairs moving out. It must be their’s, which means it’s in a vacant apartment, which means I’m screwed.  I turn gloomily over in bed, realizing there is nothing I can do about it tonight and will have to figure out a way to sleep through it.


At first it’s the beeping itself that keeps me up, jolting me awake just as I begin to drift off.  After about an hour of this my brain begins to anticipate the dreadful sound, and I find myself lying there waiting for it in horror because it’s even worse having that sound tear through one’s head unexpectedly.  I start to feel like this must be some sort of twisted torture and wonder if I’ll ever escape it.

I try everything I can think of. Cover my head with pillows, blast Civalias on my ipod, I even turn on the bedroom TV to drown out the sound. But tis all for naught, I cannot escape the harrowing, ghastly beep. Not for a minute, not even for a second.

I feel like Pheobe on Friends in that episode with the inescapable fire alarm where she ends up smashing it to smithereens.  I certainly would do likewise if I had thing in my hand.



And thus I spend my night, staring at the ceiling waiting for the next horrid screech to sound out. I start to wonder how cold it is on my back porch and if remember where my sleeping bag is.  My dogs lie next to me, as disturbed as I at this point; wide-eyed, confused, and so tired I think they might be delirious. They start randomly barking and whining at nothing every few minutes or so, turning their heads in a most unnatural fashion.  It doesn’t matter now, we’re all pretty much screwed.

And this is when I turn over and see that it is half past six o’clock. In the morning. I feel very strange knowing that I will soon be expected to get up and go to work.


The thought of this makes me laugh out-loud, the sort of laugh borne of madness which only lends itself to rash, irrational behavior. It is at this moment something inside me sort of breaks, and the fear of the dreaded beep is overridden by an enormously powerful need to sleep. I say one last word to the fire alarm, wherever it may be, text my assistant that I will be late coming in, and drift into an hour of beautiful slumber. I wake up to a return text reminding me that I have an appointment in 30 minutes and jump out of bed to get to work.

God bless my assistant.

I do not need to tell you that this particular Monday does not turn out to be my finest. No, not by a long-shot.  I imagine if someone had followed me around with a video camera all day they would have had themselves some hearty entertainment.  By the end of the day I am utterly spent and I, thinking someone must have reported the fire alarm by now in some adjacent room, step back into my apartment.


Words. Lots of  bad words come out of my mouth.

And then, suddenly, I remember something. Something terrifying.  Did I, at one time, have a second fire alarm? A carbon monoxide detector?  I go over to the hallway where the sound has been coming from and turn my gaze towards the hall closet. I begin pulling out storage boxes and emptying their contents on the floor, half-hoping I won’t find what I’m searching for.  It’s at that moment I see it.

And here is the horrible, awful, really bad part. That alarm that kept me up all last night? Yeah, that was mine.

There before me sits the second fire alarm and it’s wretched beeping. About 6 months ago my complex had replaced the carbon monoxide alarm I had been using plugged into the wall with a newer, regulated one.  Thus I had stashed the old one without knowing it had a battery in it.

Wow Jen, wow. For SHAME.

The only person I am brave enough to tell my story to was my assistant Katie.  Her response was, and I quote, “Bahahahahahahahahaha, this absolutely made my night”
Well, at least someone’s night was made, because that’s one I’ll never get back.

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