Sunday, January 4, 2009

At the Sound of the Beep

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.


  1. We have so done the same thing at our house -- running around crazily looking for the source of the beeps, which has been variously 1) the dryer, 2) the smoke detector's batteries, 3) the carbon-monoxide detector's batteries and 4) an unhealthy cell phone's dying gasps. Thanks for the laugh this morning!

  2. That is funny. And really funny that your husband knew immediately what the beep was! At our house the annoying beep turned out to be a moisture detector in the basement. Hmmmm. Not so funny.

  3. I am so impressed that you have so many safety sensors!
    Seriously, idiot??
    Come by later today, I have a little something for you. Just to keep you busy.

  4. In my life, it was the garbage truck backing up in front of my house once a week... My wife called me an idiot too...

  5. ohmygosh! That was funny!!!

    KEEP WRITING! You rock!!!!

  6. I have decided to do more than lurk in the background. The beeping blog was great. The trip to the zoo was even better. My wife cannot keep Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland straight even though we have lived here a long time.

  7. Ours does the same thing, LOL, and it annoys the heck out of me!

    Come on over there is a TMI award awaiting...I decided three will be the charm for me...and thanks again for picking me!

  8. I hate random beeps - happens way more often now that I live with a toddler who touches everything.

    Great post.

    FYI - I'm shooting an award back your way in my most recent post.

  9. You are so funny...this has happened to grandkids I guess had changed the setting somehow as it hadn't done it before! Thank God...I don't have a basement or it would have taken me forever to figure it out!

  10. With us it was the batteries dying in the old CO detector. But first we checked the cooker, the washing machine, the smoke detector and the new CO detector. Sigh.

  11. This is hilariously funny..loved this post adn going back to read older ones. I saw your award to K and read you from there.. cdb

  12. LOL Good story! The freaking dishwasher was driving you nuts little by little :)

  13. I'm sorry but that's hilarious. The other night, when I was having a Hanukkah meal with my family and two of my mother's friends, we kept hearing this beeping sound. My dad did the smoke detector thing, etc and then suddenly one of my mother's friends said, "Oh that must be my hearing aid going off". Mystery solved.


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