I am going to destroy our apartment's fire alarm. Just as soon as I figure out a way of reaching it.

Back in Berkeley I had a very insensitive fire alarm. I had a fire alarm that didn't go off when there was literally a fire in the apartment (it did go off once when I was cooking a steak and the whole apartment was dense with smoke; it wasn't broken, it was just very lazy).

This fire alarm is not insensitive. It has now gone off thrice. It went off when I was frying cucumbers a couple of weeks ago. It went off when I was sauteeing mushrooms to put in a sandwich last week. It went off tonight when I was sauteeing some jalapenos to put in my rice. It should be pointed out that in each of these cases the food in question did not even burn; there might have been the slightest wiff of carbon, but that was enough to set the confounded alarm off.

This problem is compounded by the fact that it is positioned on the ceiling in the hall. The ceiling is about 9 1/2 feet high, which is roughly half a foot higher than my fingertips when I'm standing on a chair. I can't turn the damn thing off when it starts.

I'm going to put in a maintenance request, but my hopes are low. Our building's maintenance requests are all screened through a fast-talking Puerto Rican lady named Julie, whose principal qualification seems to be an exceptional ability to explain why anyone's problem isn't really a problem at all. Locks don't lock? It's easier to get into your apartment now! Besides, you don't really need that deadbolt. It's a safe neighborhood! You wanna call a locksmith, fine, but you'll do it on your own dime. Stove burners don't turn to any heat but High? They're designed to do that! Gets your cooking done faster! You want a lower heat, turn it backwards (to the very sensitive portion between Off and Lite where it's very easy to have the flame go out and still be dispensing gas into the room). Problem solved! You don't like your stove? Too bad! Buy a new one yourself. I'm absolutely certain that she'll tell me that they can't get me a more reasonable fire alarm. And, given that it would require calling a (tall) maintenance person, she'll probably also explain why the fire alarm works better when it's so high that I can't turn it off.

At this point, I do not have a fire alarm. I have a cooking alarm. 75% of the time when I use the stove for something other than boiling water, the cooking alarm goes off. This is useless. I know when I'm cooking. I don't need a shrill, rhythmic tone telling me that I am cooking.


My last apartment had a cooking alarm also. Since I now live in the backyard of the same lot, I still hear it faintly when it goes off. This serves to illuminate its actual purpose: to let me know when the neighbors are cooking so I can go and freeload.

They make a mean oatmeal raisin cookie, as it turns out.

It's primarily annoying insofar as it annoys my roommate. I woke him up with the mushroom cooking alarm. Then again, I was cooking mushrooms at 2 in the afternoon on a Saturday, and he was still sleeping off the night before.

On the one hand, I feel bad waking him up with a screaming fire alarm at a moment when he probably hates all forms of life, particularly noisy ones. On the other hand, it's 2 in the afternoon! The day has to begin at some point!

I can think of a worse alarm clock than the smell of cooking mushrooms. That's a pretty good way to wake up. But, since tasty smells alone can't be relied upon to wake up heavy sleepers, it was necessary to make a loud obnoxious noise to make sure that he was awake to smell the mushrooms. So you see it was all for the best.

"Wake up, you fool! There are mushrooms to be smelled!"

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on September 27, 2005 11:37 PM.

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