Smoke defective

smokedetectorThe smoke detector went off just before 3:00 a.m. and I leaped out of bed like it was an Olympic event. If there had been an actual fire, the tumultuous flapping of the blankets would have fed the flames to a frenzy.

Oh my God!” I cried. Deb claims I flung myself across the bed and nearly headbutted her, but I maintain I hit the floor at the foot of the bed and sped out into the hall. Remember this discrepancy the next time you hear a so-called “eye-witness account.”

So, no, I wasn’t calm under pressure, but I didn’t panic. No, sir, I didn’t, probably because by the time I got to the hallway to rouse the children, the beeping had stopped, and instead of the choking fog of smoke, the floor was filled with the delightful aroma of freshly baked bread.

Death by toast inhalation – very rare.

We had put a loaf on in the bread-maker prior to going to bed, and something in the baking must have triggered the alarm. I went downstairs to check – nothing burning. I scanned the house, sniffed around the basement. Everything was fine. Well, the basement never smells fine. Everything was normal.

I went back to bed. Ten minutes later, it went off again. I re-checked the house. After the third time, another 10 minutes later, I unhooked the detector from the wall and brought it into the bathroom. I was trying to read the tiny print on the back through 3:30 eyes when it went off in my hand. Good thing I was in the bathroom. I took out the battery and crawled back into bed.

And then I lay there awake for another hour. This is what happens when you suffer a near-bread experience.

The thing is, I really wanted to sleep. It had been a tiring week, and the night before I had gone to bed while my young-adult children and their young-adult cousins partied loudly downstairs. They are all freshmen in the school of drinking, and they were cramming. I put in earplugs after a while. Earplugs do a pretty good job of blocking noise but earplugs can’t block the feeling you’re wearing earplugs.

So I was tired. We had ended the following day by driving our eldest daughter back to Montreal. As I stood in her apartment hallway, I looked up and saw her smoke detector hanging open – battery-less. “Replace your battery,” I scolded. This was after I had to squint at the sesame seeds on her counter to make sure they weren’t moving. Her housekeeping skills are a work in progress, but the battery was a priority.

With all the late nights and the travel, I should have been able to drift right back to sleep. Instead, I lay there thinking, what if there really had been a fire? Why, for example, hadn’t the at-home children sprung out of their rooms and raced for our pre-designated meeting place, the tree at the end of our driveway? When I asked the next morning, one child said he had heard the smoke detector but whatever, one thought she was dreaming, and one asked, “Is that what that was?” They were also two-for-three in recalling the pre-designated tree.

And what about the pets? Would I have to save the pets? There’s a conspiracy afoot in the house right now to acquire a puppy in addition to the full-grown dog and four cats we already have. One more puppy would be one more animal to save from the fire. And, being a puppy, it probably started the fire in the first place.

I thought about just how far I would go to rescue those pets. If I died trying to save the cat that keeps me awake at night with its snoring, I would feel pretty silly. Lying there, I thought about just how fat that snoring cat is. And then I thought that, if the fire were small enough, we could probably use the fat snoring cat like a blanket to smother the flames. It was late; don’t tell my wife.

I thought about what else we would try to save from the flames. The traditional photo albums? Or the non-traditional record albums. Hey, I’ve been carting those things around for 30 years, man! Then I thought of a better question: was there anything we would throw into the fire? Oops, there goes that sweater. It was late; don’t tell my wife.

Eventually, I did fall back to sleep, but not before realizing that our smoke detector was now sitting unplugged in the bathroom. If we die in a fire tonight, I thought, and the inspectors find this, our eldest daughter is going to be pissed!


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
This entry was posted in Family - whadya gonna do?, It Really Did Happen! and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Smoke defective

  1. pinklightsabre says:

    The fat, snoring cat thrown on the fire got an audible chuckle out of me here in the dark, with my radio. As did the earplugs, the young-adults cramming, the image of you in the bathroom with 3:30 eyes and the fucking thing going off again. They’re so LOUD. Can they make more gentle alarms, perhaps tied to an app, to our phones, like a tweet-tweet or something?

  2. Paul says:

    It seems to me that a lot of the stress and angst of a fire alarm is caused by the piercing noise. They have silent smoke alarms now designed for deaf people – the sensors are the same but instead of alarming, they trigger a shaker placed under your mattress that vibrates you awake. (True story) The only problem i can see is that having been shaken awake, I may very well fumble for the cash box to insert another quarter and go back to sleep.

    I can empathize with the rude bread awakening. I used to work at a large commercial bakery when I was a student and i’ve been runover by bread, hit in the head with bread, flattened with bread, tripped by bread, buried in bread and so on. It used to keep my awake at night too – that dastardly bread.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      I think I have seen those coin boxes only one time in my life. It’s all very vague. Do they still have them, I wonder? And why? In a related note, I wonder if there’s such a thing as a bread fetish. No, I take that back; I don’t want to know.

  3. thesailorswoman says:

    We have a monitored alarm system. Did you know that means they also monitor the smoke detector? Neither did I…until the smoke detector went off. I leapt to action, shooing the Chihuahua away so her sensitive hearing wouldn’t be damaged by the alarm’s piercing shriek and using a kitchen towel to clear the air. (It had been set off by steam from the shower when someone forgot to turn on the fan.) It was all good until the fire fighters arrived. It turns out, you’re supposed to call the alarm company to declare a false alarm everytime the smoke detector goes off.

  4. markbialczak says:

    Smoke detectors are nothing to joke about until they go off for non-threatening bread-like situations, Ross. Or when something icky adhered itself to the oven wall the last time I was making frozen pizza for lunch and I didn’t bother to clean it off. Or I left the flame under my grilled cheese sandwich a wee bit too high and heard something way cool I had to investigate on the TV. Or … All of this led my dear wife Karen to tell me to take the detector out of the kitchen and stick it in the neighboring laundry room. So far, no wrinkle-free khakis incidents, knock on wood.

  5. How was the bread??
    I am glad that there wasn’t a real fire, and you didn’t have to save anyone, but how did the bread turn out?

  6. Gibber says:

    This is so funny but not but funny! I’m glad you didn’t die by bread, fire, daughter, or unplugged smoke detector. I hope you enjoy your bread and get some sleep. Maybe give the cat a Breathe Right strip.

  7. HA! This is amazing. I mean…I’m glad you didn’t die but your chronicles of thoughts had near fire-fear-induced-insomnia are all too relatable. And I”m sure your cat would be HONORED to go down sacrificing herself (himself?) as a fire smothering blanket.

    I’m also not really a cat person so…maybe don’t ask me.

  8. ksbeth says:

    if you’ve never seen it, watch the ‘smoke detector’ that wouldn’t stop episode of modern family. you will identify i promise. as a kindy teacher, i’m going to suggest a family drill/re-enactment of what to do in case of a fire, on the order of those true crime shows. think of it as a kind of drama exercise and it could be fun. ‘we are to all meet under the big oak tree outside. susie, you must have the dog, gina you will take the poptarts, desdemona bring anyone sleeping over with you, and i will be in charge of making sure that the remote makes it out alive. once we’ve all arrived, i’d like you to count of with your pre-assigned number and i will check you off of the list’ all sorts of interesting scenarios could ensue…

  9. Ned's Blog says:

    Speaking as a firefighter, I can tell you our first priority in these situations is to find a fat cat to put out any flaming bread. Speaking as a friend, you should seriously consider finding a good bakery.

  10. Another fine argument in support of a gluten-free lifestyle. 🙂

  11. Tez says:

    You and the fat cat may not have saved anyone from the pseudo fire, but you certainly saved my day. Prolonged, loud and cheery laughter makes anyone’s day so much better. Especially after reading lines like this:
    “…a near-bread experience.”
    “They are all freshmen in the school of drinking, and they were cramming.”
    I bow to your talent and, don’t forget, your fans knead you so let that talent rise to the top. We’ll spread the butter on thick.

  12. Samara says:

    I’m impressed that you make your own bread. Is that a Canadian thing, or a hippie thing, or what is that?
    Four cats. Wow. I’m highly allergic. If someone wanted to murder me, they could just lock me in your house and watch my throat close…

    • rossmurray1 says:

      A breadmaker isn’t very hippie. More yuppie, perhaps. In our case, though, it’s neither. Our daughter has a rare genetic condition and we have to make her a special bread from a mix, and the breadmaker is the way to go.

      As for the cats, I see dander floating by as we speak. Keep away…!

      • Samara says:

        My kid has allergies to all sorts of food coloring and preservatives. So I have to make a lot of stuff from scratch. If not, his ADHD spirals out of control.

        I hear ya, Ross. You’re a good daddy. Keep on keeping on!

  13. Aussa Lorens says:

    This was absolutely hilarious. I love the kids’ reactions, “whatever” and “oh that’s what that was?”

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