Friday, June 10, 2011

Beep, Beep

Beep, beep!

We live in a world filled with noise. It seems that just about everything emits some type of beeping, chirping, whining, bleating, or buzzing.

Years ago, when our daughter Aubrie was little, we'd gone down to the shore. We got into our little room, put our suitcases down and went out to walk on the boards. When we got back, we were treated to a loud, high pitched ringing noise, reverberating throughout the room.
We searched everywhere, trying to locate the source to no avail. The hotel sent the maintenance man, but he couldn't figure it out either. Since there was no way we could stay in the room, and the hotel was booked solid, we were relocated. More accurately, we were upgraded to a luxury condominium. Later the next day, the sound began anew, but we finally located it. It was one of Aubrie's toys.

When it comes to noise, phones are one of the biggest offenders. If your battery is low, it beeps loudly and won't shut up until you've plugged it in or turned it off. It's kind of weird, though, when you think about it. If the battery is low, isn't the constant beeping even more draining on it? I understand that it's meant to call our attention to the fact that it's potentially dying, but one would hope that it would try to save its strength.

Then there's the beeping to alert me that I have a text message. My kids love to text, even though they know I hate it and have one heck of a time trying to respond. Call me old fashioned, but I always thought phones were for having a conversation. Now it houses your entire phone book, is the keeper of your “to do” list, gives you a wake up call, and can even give you directions. Add the ability to surf the web and type messages, and it's pretty much an all purpose miniature computer.

The problem I have is that even though I have a keyboard on my phone, it was obviously made for elves. The keys are tiny, making it next to impossible to compose sentences that don't have a myriad of typos. Thankfully, the kids are fairly able to decipher my typographically challenged messages; “bting yonr mu;j” means bring home milk. Or meat. If they don't bother to call and ask for the translation, it's a crap shoot to see what it is they've brought home.

Today's cars are also guilty of contributing to noise pollution. If I don't have my seat belt on as soon as I shut the door, my car begins making an obnoxious ringing noise until I either hit a button or fasten the belt. What I'd like to know is who figured how much time the average person needs between getting in the car and securing your safety belt. It's annoying to have your vehicle judge how long it takes.

Hardly any place has as many buzzers, whistles and alarms as the kitchen. And one morning, it became the scene of the perfect storm.

I'm not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, so I have the coffee machine completely ready so that all I have to do is press a button. Usually, I don't eat anything more than a piece of toast, either; big breakfasts are a weekend treat. I wear contact lenses, so in addition to being barely awake before coffee, I'm also fairly blind.

A few months ago, for some strange reason, I woke up famished; I wanted eggs and sausage gravy with biscuits. And, like every other day, I turned the coffee maker on.

Since the sausage was frozen, I grabbed it out of the freezer to put in the microwave to thaw. I pulled a roll of biscuits out of the fridge, and pre-heated the toaster oven. Fetched eggs and a skillet, and put them down on the counter as I assembled all the other sausage gravy fixins.

And then, the perfect storm hit.

The coffee maker buzzed, or so I thought. When I got close enough to see (translation – on top of it), I realized that it wasn't done, so it couldn't be buzzing. My next thought was that the refrigerator door wasn't closed. I opened it and closed it, several times. Still, the buzzing continued.

Next, I went over to the toaster oven, to see if maybe it was letting me know it had hit its chosen temperature. But that wasn't it either; the ringing was driving me crazy. Then, as if God wasn't amused enough, the coffee maker buzzer went off, right when the microwave began to ring that my sausage was defrosted.

Turns out, God wasn't laughing hard enough, because I was able to identify the next sound – the fire alarm.

I wheeled around to see that I'd turned the wrong burner on. My pot holders, which had been stacked on the stove top, were on fire. There was smoke billowing through the kitchen and down the hall. This sent my daughter, Elyse, running into the room. She helped me throw the fire ball that had, until now, been my pot holders, into the sink.

We poured water on the blazing heap of fabric, which only made the smoke worse. We needed to get the doors and windows open – and soon. Elyse pried open one of the 100-year-old kitchen windows and just as she thought she had it open all the way, it came down and smashed her finger.

I was trying to determine if her finger was broken, which thankfully it wasn't. I grabbed ice, put it in a towel and told her to sit down with her arm up. I have no idea why I instructed her to keep her arm up, but you always see that when you're watching first aid videos. I figured it couldn't hurt.

Matt smelled the fire, heard the shrill cacophony, and came running up the stairs to see what was going on. I gave him the Reader's Digest version as he ran around opening windows and doors with me.

Next, he tried to shut the alarm off, but the button wouldn't work, so he had to open the cover and take the battery out. All the while he was cursing, wanting to know what in the world had possessed me to make breakfast before I had my coffee and without at least my glasses on. What was Elyse doing holding her hand in the air wrapped in a towel full of ice? Why did I have pot holders on top of the stove, and what was that ringing?

By now, our son, Boy, and our other daughter, Aubrie, had come into the room to see what in the world was going on. They were treated to a screaming woman, angry man, wounded girl circus. I half expected Boy to go get the popcorn.

And that's when the toaster oven beeped to let me know it had reached 350 degrees.

Still, we hadn't located the source of the original ringing. With a grin a mile wide, Boy casually walked over to the freezer and closed it; which turned off the alarm.

It's been a few months, and we've all pretty much recovered. To Matt's delight, I've sworn off any type of creative cuisine in the a.m. Thankfully, Elyse's finger wasn't broken, but she did sport a good sized bruise for two weeks. To this day, I have no idea if holding your hand above your head makes any difference for a badly bruised finger.

The smell of smoke is long gone, and after a few days of heavy scrubbing, the stove top was usable again. Matt purchased a new fire alarm; one that didn't need the battery removed to get it to shut up. As for Boy and Aubrie? Well, let's just say that they had quite the story to tell their friends for weeks.

But when it gets down to it, buzzers that warn you of impending doom are truly a godsend. Just as long as it isn't a slow day - and He could use a laugh.

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