I sleep pretty deeply. I have since college. It comes from spending days working on school projects with less than a few hours of sleep each night. I kinda trained myself to sleep through pretty much anything.
At 2:33 this morning I bolted upright in bed: “What was that?!?”
A noise woke me up. I have no idea what the noise was (I was asleep!), but I have this sense that it sounded like a record player needle being raked sideways across the vinyl of an album. Yeah, yeah, I know… all you kids born >1980 are asking, “What’s an album?” STFU.
Meredith replied somewhat groggily (groggily?), “Um, I don’t know… sounded like a woodpecker on a metal roof.”
Yeah, I’ll buy that… we don’t have either (woodpecker or metal roof), but it was a descriptive response to an interrogative that she surely had exactly the same context I did… asleep and now instantly awake.
At this point, we both realized the wind was howling as the dryline for some storms was passing through. The power flickered, but not in your normal brown-out kinda way… more like the way arcing happens when you go to connect jumper-cables to your dead car battery. I decided I probably ought to get up and check it out. With all the wind, it could have been anything. About a million things ran through my head. Okay, really just a few: broken window? chimney cover? door blown open?
Our alarm system’s control unit chirped it’s little, “Hey, notice me” chirp. It’s like the “Hey, you just opened a door/window” chirp, but different. I walked into the laundry room and pushed one of the myriad buttons that will silence it. It’s made that noise a couple times recently and Meredith discovered on the Internets that there’s an internal battery that’s dead and needs to be replaced. We just haven’t gotten around to that. Oops.
Then it happened. All within about 3 seconds. First, the world’s loudest CHIRPCHIRP then a second or so of deafening silence. Then…
And it didn’t stop. I’m standing there in the hallway staring up at the little plastic box on the wall that’s screaming at me wondering, “Why don’t you stop doing that now?”
Meredith was a little more rational at that point and was trying to disarm it. Then I shouted at her, “Why don’t you disarm it?!?” and she shouted back, “I’m trying, but it’s not working.”
Well this isn’t good.
The neighbors are surely going to notice in the next few milliseconds that we haven’t made our house stop blaring at the entire neighborhood. At 2:45 in the morning.
By this time, Griffin’s shown up and she’s (rightfully) in full-freakout mode. Oh goody. Now let’s put ‘calm her down’ on the list with ‘make noise stop’ and ‘keep neighbors at bay’. I came out of the laundry room to talk to her and she instantly clung to me. “Don’t worry, sweetheart, nothing’s wrong. The alarm is broken. There’s no fire or anything.” That seemed very reassuring to her and she was much less upset.
But now I’m staring back up at this damn plastic box on the wall. The keypad seems ineffective. It is totally unresponsive. The main computer is in the top of our master bedroom closet. Do I need to go get in there and press a reset button or something? Meredith walks into the hallway and looks up… “Can you just yank that off the wall?”
I grabbed the step-stool from the laundry room and immediately proceeded to climb up to the wailing box. Yank. It came free pretty easily. There was quite a lot of wire that fed out of the wall behind the box. And then a couple of twist-caps. Perfect! I grabbed the wire on either side of the twist-caps and yanked.
Ahh, blessed silence.
For 1.3 seconds.
Then the control unit in the laundry room apparently noticed the alarm wasn’t going off (okay, it probably really noticed the open circuit). “CHIRPCHIRPWEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” The high-pitched whine was incessant. I couldn’t believe it. Seriously? I thought to myself…
“Goddamn you fucking thing, did you see what I just did to that other piece of shit plastic box!?!”
Coherency kicked in at that point (it wasn’t NEARLY as loud). I grabbed a screwdriver and removed the unit from the wall. There was the cable coming out of the wall and split into a little jack thing on the back. Meredith asked, “Can’t you just unplug that?” Yeah, you would think that if you were sane and your alarm was a nice, 21st century alarm, but this POS was built in the 80s — way back when the wiring was connected directly to the circuit board via little one-way punch-in block connectors. “Just cut it,” she said.
For several second I contemplated that it really was stupid that I should have to cut wires connecting into this little breadboard. Again, I’m trying to rationalize why there isn’t some sort of jack/connector that’s unpluggable. Then…
It’s now after 5am. Things have been silent for well over two hours now. And no neighbors have come knocking. And the police haven’t shown up. So, I think the alarm’s broken (no shit), but the rush of adrenaline totally screwed up my ability to sleep and I’m likely to be a walking zombie tomorrow (today). Although, writing this has seemed to been effective at allowing me to relax. Maybe I’ll wander back to bed and see if I can’t sneak in another few hours. I am working from home today, so no need get up early to get into the office.
Oh look, the storms are here.