On Wednesday of the first week I was laid off, I heard a noise, a slow, measured beeeep that reiterated four times. The first time it happened, I ignored it, figuring it was a utility truck outside backing up.
About fifteen minutes later, though, it sounded again. Beeep. Beeep. Beeep. Beeep. Beeep. Along about the third beep, I jumped up, forsaking my keyboard, and went on safari, but by the time I reached the kitchen, it had stopped.
Fifteen minutes passed and there it was again. This time, I leapt to my feet and raced through the kitchen to the smoke detector. Nope, it wasn’t the smoke detector. By the fourth beep, I was rounding the kitchen counters (which are edged with foam tubes, so that I don’t eviscerate, I mean, so the grandkids don’t brain themselves. Thank God). I threw open the basement door as the last beep sounded. Dammit.
Next iteration, I headed straight for the basement, clattering down the wooden stairs, to determine that it was not the lower level smoke alarm nor the carbon monoxide detector. I was heading back to the first floor as this round ended.
A quarter of an hour passed and I sprinted for the second floor, but still no dice.
And that was it. No more beeps.
The next week, the same thing occurred. I ran all over looking for the source, without success. But I’m not trained in Six Sigma methods for Process Improvement and Kepner-Tregoe Problem-Solving techniques for nothing. I made a note on my desk blotter: this time it occurred on Tuesday, starting at 8:15 a.m.
For the next five weeks, I repeated this exercise, looking for a source, a pattern, something that would tell me how I to eliminate this annoyance which was interfering so grievously with my writing. I told Bill about it, but it never happened when he was home. He changed out all the smoke detector batteries, but within a few days, it was back.
Finally, on Christmas Eve, it recurred.
Excitedly, I ran into the living room. “That’s it!” I shouted. “That’s the noise.”
He meandered into the kitchen, listened for a moment and said, “It’s the dishwasher, you idiot. It’s telling you it’s done.”
Fortunately, as well as being grounded in Problem Solving and Troubleshooting, I’m fluent in Husbandese, and know this actually translates into “my beloved wife, center of beauty and intelligence for the universe.”
Because no one is dumb enough to talk like that to the person who prepares his food.