Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Girl vs the Smoke Detector

A while back, I came home to the lovely sound of one of the smoke detectors chirping. "Please, Lord," I thought, "don't let it be the one in the bedroom." The master bedroom has a vaulted ceiling and the smoke detector is at the top of the vault. After changing the battery in the detector downstairs and then the battery in the detector in the upstairs hallway, I discovered the culprit was the one here in the office. (I also discovered there is one here in the office). As we moved into the house in October 2005, I knew the day would come that the battery in the bedroom smoke detector would have to be changed.

The dreaded day came yesterday. After work I stopped at the YMCA for a swim. I always rinse off in their shower but take a real shower when I get home to get the chlorine out of my hair. Because I get home about an hour later on days I swim than I would if I came straight home from work, I bring the dog's dishes upstairs so they can eat their dinner while I am in the shower. (Because they have proven time and again they can't be trusted, they get locked in the bedroom while I am in the shower). When I set Charlie's dish down, I heard a noise like I had hit their (metal) dishes together, which I thought was odd. As I got into the shower, I thought "Oh please God, no." But the beep came again and again. And I knew from my experience with painting the bedroom that I am not tall enough to reach the smoke detector.

Nonetheless, after my shower, I went out to the garage and drug the ladder upstairs and got it set up, knocking it into the ceiling fan in the process, which I had not thought to turn off. I am pretty sure it now needs to be replaced. I got it to stop making the really loud noise, but I thought I could smell rubber burning and I don't remember it shaking quite that much so I turned it off. This is kind of unfortunate as I find it is too quiet with it turned off and I sleep better (which isn't saying much) with it on.

I got up on the ladder as far as I was comfortable with and then climbed two rungs higher-to the last rung below the yellow warning sticker saying "DO NOT CLIMB ABOVE THIS RUNG" and sure enough, I could not reach the smoke detector. So, I posted the following to my Facebook page: "Home improvement tip of the day: running the ladder into the ceiling fan is not good for the fan. So now not only is the smoke alarm chirping because even on the ladder I'm still too short to reach it, I need a new ceiling fan. I'm going to go cry now." And that is exactly what I did; I went and laid down on my bed and cried. And then I went and sat of the top step and cried.

I tried to call the friend who lives closest to me to see if I could borrow her significant other. She didn't answer. I tried to call my good friend to see if her husband (James' best friend) could come help me. She didn't answer. I called my co-worker who also lives nearby. She was at dinner with her son and her husband was fishing, otherwise they would have come to help me. I went and rang the neighbor's doorbell. I could hear they were home (with six kids in a small house and both cars in the driveway it's a little hard to pretend you aren't home), but they didn't answer. I called my boss; he was out for a walk. I was sobbing harder with each call I made. I called James' best friend directly. He said he'd come help me and about 40 minutes later, the problem was solved. It was about two hours later that I finally stopped crying (although the Braves giving up 10 runs in the 4th inning was almost enough to make me start up again). The pool at the Y was over-chlorinated yesterday-all those tears did at least get the burning from that out of my eyes.

Since James died, I have taken apart a 52" TV to replace the projector lamp, painted the upstairs bathroom, hallway and our bedroom, took apart the sliding glass door to replace the lock, changed a car battery, disposed of three dead mice (without freaking out) and dealt with the disposal of a dead possum. All that went right out the window thanks to not being able to perform the simplest of tasks for myself. With each call I made, I felt more alone. At one point, I decided I would just sleep downstairs until the battery died. Then I realized I could hear it down there too. So I decided to just sell the house and move into one where I can reach everything. I thought about setting off the security alarm so the fire department would respond and fix it for me. (Men in uniform really would be worth the fine). I thought about calling Handyman Matters-a handyman company we used for a couple of things when we first moved in. I wanted to call Volunteer Guy because he's tall. (It's probably a good thing I don't have his number). I have never felt so helpless in my life although once again I have managed to provide comic relief to several people.

I haven't tried the ceiling fan yet today to see if I was smelling burning rubber or just imagining it. But in trying to fix it last night, I decided it is really ugly and I want a new one. I guess for my next trick, I will be learning how to install a ceiling fan. Maybe doing that successfully will make me feel better about being too short to complete a simple task for myself.

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