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I Have Officially Lost It.....

At 4:00 in the afternoon I heard a familiar, but dreaded, “chirp” sound. I stood in the hallway next to my kitchen. Yep, there it was again.

Luckily, the office that serves this apartment complex was open until 5:00. Quickly, I opened my laptop and submitted the online request to have my smoke alarm batteries changed.

Then I waited. Dinner that night was to be salmon and stir-fried vegetables. I hated to smell up my kitchen with salmon right before the maintenance person came. It was a quick meal and could wait until after the batteries were changed.

Five o’clock came and went. I cursed myself. Should have just called the office directly instead of submitting the online form. They had probably left for the day now, without checking for anymore service requests.

Meanwhile, the intermittent “chirping” continued, regular as clockwork.

Well, I hated to call the emergency line after hours, but chirping smoke alarm batteries were on the list of permissible emergencies. I did not want to listen to that all night.

Daniel answered. Lucky him, to be on duty. I explained the situation. “Well, it’ll take me about half an hour to get there,” he said. Daniel doesn’t live on premises.

“Daniel,” I apologized, “Please go ahead and eat your dinner and then come over. I’d like the batteries changed, but it’s not a rush and you can certainly eat your dinner.”

The “chirping” continued, and, in a perverse way, I was glad. At least I had a legitimate emergency. I decided not to make the salmon and vegetables yet; didn’t want to smell up the place before Daniel got here.

Around 7:30 he pulled up in his navy-blue Honda CRV. I saw the glow of his cigarette, which he extinguished before opening the car door. Smoking is not permitted on our premises.

He moved slowly to open the trunk. He’s got to be in his seventies. A long blue stepladder emerged from the car. That stepladder was longer than Daniel is tall. With his swollen legs and ankles, it looked like a painful walk with an awkward load.

But when I answered the door, he enthused, “Well, hello there!! My wife asked me to tell you, thank you so much, for letting us eat our dinner. She said for me to be sure to tell you.”

As he crossed my threshold, we both heard the chirping sound, and he sympathized, “Oh, it’s one of them smoke detectors, ain’t it? Darn things are always goin’ off at the worst time. Which one is it?”

I pointed toward the hallway next to the kitchen, and he set up the ladder. Another “chirp” as he climbed two rungs. Another “chirp” as he took off the cover.

But he worked fast replacing the batteries, and climbed down. Just started folding up his ladder when we heard another “chirp.” I thought, Is there another detector nearby that I missed?

Daniel and I looked at each other. Then I looked over my shoulder. The microwave chirped once more. My tea. I had just put it in the microwave this afternoon, to warm it up. But I never drank it and forgot about it.

I was mortified. Just think, I called him from his home for my “emergency” microwave.

Daniel chuckled. “Well, this can be our little secret,” he said in his North Carolina drawl, as he bade me a good evening and carried the ladder out the door.

Dinner was canned soup and crackers.

Have you had days like this?


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