By Katherine Wright
There’s nothing more relaxing than a weekend wake-up call at 6 a.m. to the sound of blaring fire alarms.
We’ve had an issue in our apartment where the alarms erupt spontaneously, without any sort of trigger. The alarms must think it’s funny, laughing at one another from each room, a conversation between a screeching banshee and blaring nails on a chalkboard.
I would say this experience has become something of a routine, but “routine” implies predictable timing. Unfortunately, my fire alarms don’t have any consistency other than being a consistent inconvenience. On that note, they’re always right on schedule.
One of the first times was at 1 a.m. Then, 3 a.m. Then, 4 a.m. Most recently, 6 a.m. Now that I think about it, I guess we’re slowly moving toward the waking hours of the day. So that’s something. Perhaps the alarms are sleep training infants or are suffering from jet lag. I guess I can’t blame them, then.
My favorite part of the experience is climbing up chairs in the middle of the night to rip the alarms off the wall — the only way to provide momentary relief from their smoke-less, shrieking cries of agony. When we finally succeed in removing the batteries, silencing the piercing, synchronous howling, one remains stuck to the wall, chirping.
The chirping lasts the rest of the night, no matter how many times we push the button to reset it or replace the battery. It always takes a different solution to finally get rid of its persistent, slow chirps, and therefore haunts the apartment for hours on end.
After the middle-of-the-night wake-up call, those chirps mock my prospect of sleep, laughing every 60 seconds when their sound returns. In between chirps, I sit awake, waiting for its call, dreading its noise. And just when I’m about to fall asleep again and temporarily forget about the melodrama of the fire alarms, the chirping happens — this time, right on schedule.
We thought the problem was fixed last semester. It wasn’t. But I guess that’s part of the alarms’ charm: they go off completely randomly, on their own accord. They wait for no one and do not care about timeliness or comfort. “Oh, were you sleeping? My bad. Anyway, surprise! We’re back!”
On radically optimistic days, I guess you could call it an adventure. Staying in near-constant contact with the property manager, shopping for new batteries, pushing the fire alarm button, climbing up ladders, desperately searching the internet for any kind of saving knowledge and living in a constant state of anticipation. It’s an adventure.
I wouldn’t recommend it, though. I’d maybe give it one out of five stars on Yelp. You might have better luck adventuring to Hawaii or Florida or the tundra of Antarctica.