It is Alarming!
John Norberg, humor columnist s

Some things only happen in houses during the middle of the night – things like spooky creaking noises; ice cream raids on the kitchen freezer; and loud beeps caused by worn out batteries in smoke alarms.

Smoke alarms are very important and we installed them when we built our house 20 years ago. The only thing we are required to do to maintain them is change the batteries at least once a year.

In our house, changing smoke alarm batteries requires climbing on a ladder. And somewhere in the Great Book of Household Duty Divisions it is written that ladder climbing is a man's responsibility.

I accept responsibility for climbing ladders and changing the batteries. And like most men, I also forget all about it when it needs to be done.

My question is why do worn out batteries in smoke alarms always wait until the middle of the night to start beeping? Couldn't they let us know they need to be changed before we go to bed?

Wife: (At 2 a.m.) "Do you hear that?"

Me: “I hear the crowds cheering at Wrigley Field. The Cubs have won the World Series. Cubs win, Cubs win."

Wife: “Wake up. You're dreaming. You're really dreaming. Don't you hear that noise?"

Me: “I don't hear anything."

Wife: “That's because your hearing has gotten so bad and you refuse to do anything about it. One of the smoke alarms is beeping."

Me: “Is the house on fire?"

Wife: “No. It's the battery. Did you change the batteries in the smoke alarms?"

Me: “I remember we agreed I would do it on a special day every year so I wouldn't forget."

Wife: “That's right. And what day was that?"

Me: “It was your birthday. Or maybe it was Valentine's Day or Super Bowl Sunday."

Wife: “Would you please get up and change the battery. The constant beeping is keeping me awake."

The bad smoke alarm was right outside our bedroom. I got the ladder and went to the drawer where I keep new batteries. Or maybe I should say -- I went to the drawer where I thought I kept new batteries.

There were no new batteries in the new battery drawer, just some empty containers that had once held new batteries. So I went to the second place where I keep batteries: the TV remote control. There were no batteries in the remote.

I had seen those batteries from the TV remote somewhere. What had I done with them? I remembered! I had put them in an old calculator I used when I paid the bills.

I went to the calculator to get the batteries from the TV remote to use in the smoke alarm. But they weren't there. That's when I remembered I had taken the batteries from the TV remote that I put in the calculator and used them in the bathroom clock that keeps us on time in the morning.

So went to the bathroom clock which had stopped about 12 hours ago, which reminded me I had taken the batteries I needed for the smoke alarm from the TV remote, that I put in the old calculator and then used in the bathroom clock and I had put them in a miniature flashlight I used to search through a tool drawer in the basement furnace room.

Wife: “Have you changed the batteries yet?"

Me: “Yes. I'm just about done."

Well, the batteries I needed for the smoke alarm from the miniature flashlight in the basement furnace room that I had taken from the bathroom clock, the old calculator and the TV remote weren't there and that's because I had moved them to something a buddy gave me for Christmas: A plastic fish named Big Mouth Bill Bass who I keep hanging in the furnace room wall where it sings “Take Me to the River." You can probably guess why he doesn't hang in our Great Room where I wanted to put it.

Unfortunately, the plastic fish wasn't singing “Take Me to the River" or anything else for that matter because it didn't have any batteries in it. And that's when I remembered the batteries I needed for the smoke alarm from the TV remote that I had used in the old calculator and then moved to the bathroom clock before taking them to the basement for the miniature flashlight and the singing fish had been taken to my office where I had used them to power a tape recorder and where I had run them completely out of juice.

So there I was. It was the middle of the night and I had no batteries. As a man, I knew there was only one thing left for me to do. I didn't want to do it. I was tired. But I knew I had to do the manly thing to take care of my household and my wife.

I took the batteries out of the smoke alarm in the basement, put them into the smoke alarm outside our bedroom and went back to sleep.

Wife: “Do you hear a beeping noise coming from the basement?" Me: “ZZZZZZZZ . . ."

You know if I bought my wife one of those devices that makes soothing “white" noises in the bedroom at night maybe it would block out the annoying beeping sound from dead smoke alarms.

I wonder if those devices operate on batteries.

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