Tuesday, August 4, 2009

July 21, 2009

I am packing picture frames in my mother's office. There is a knock on the garage door. No one uses the front door in Massachusetts. They all go to the kitchen door. In this case, it is through the garage.

Mom lets in the fire inspector. He must test out the alarms before the house can close in nine days. He is about 40 years old, handsome as all firemen are, and a walkie-talkie mouthpiece clings to the lapel of his shirt. A little over a year ago, there was a fire in the basement. The ADT fire alarm automatically called the fire department and saved the entire house from burning. It has all been rebuilt with a completely new kitchen, appliances, basement, bathrooms, etc. When it was rebuilt, they installed state-of-the-art smoke detectors in addition to the ADT fire alarm and burglar alarm system. There are two audible alarms in every room. Overkill? Not if you have been saved by one a year ago. Five more minutes and the fire would have reached the gas can and the case of oil. See the heat of the fire melted the gas spout and oil already started seeping out of the plastic containers.

The fire inspector asked my mother if she needed to call ADT before he set off the alarms for testing. She said they weren't hooked up. (?)

He has set off the alarms. Two of them are blaring in the room I'm in, but I'm continuing to pack. No time to lose. My mother cannot remember the code to punch in to shut off the alarm. The phone is ringing.


My mother can't remember the password to give them. "The fire department is here, testing the alarms because we are selling the house." They are unimpressed because she is not giving them the password. They will not give her the code to shut it off, either. They are calling the fire department.

I drop everything and trot out to the family room. My father and the fireman are staring at the alarm boxes as they blast out their warnings. "Excuse me, but ADT is calling the fire department."

He mutters a curse and tilts his head, pressing the microphone. "Fire inspector calling headquarters. We can't turn off the alarms. ADT is about to call you...oh, they are already on the phone? Well tell them I'm here and give me the dang code to turn off the alarms."

I go back in to the office and hunch my shoulders to block some of the sirens and bells while I pack another box. I'm so glad there are two alarms going off in each room.

The fireman storms into the office and picks up the phone. He calls ADT and yells at them, over the blaring warnings to evacuate, evacuate, evacuate. "Give me the code to shut these off," he begs.

It has been twenty minutes. I'm tempted to rip one off the ceiling and pack it. It is hard to write and even harder to think. I could go outside and bury my head in a pile awaiting the dump, but the mosquitoes are thick and large enough to rip off one of my limbs. I keep packing.

The fireman stomps past me and throws open the basement door. Between the spurts of blasting alarm I hear him slam down the stairs.

Blessed silence. He's shut off power to the alarm system.

It is difficult to write.


  1. FINALLY! We learn the fireman is kee-ute. You know, I complained about that omission over here. Now, where's the picture?

  2. I have not learned how to do pictures on here, yet. Plus...I didn't bring a camera on the trip. One thing that didn't need packing.

  3. I am laughing so hard I'm crying.

  4. Since I have now learned how to add a picture, I'm adding a picture which shows that if ADT had not automatically called the fire department, the entire house would have gone by the time my parents knew there was a fire and called it in themselves. So, I sure understand all the alarms. But, I hope I never have to live through "testing" them again.


Comments are great fun. Really. I love them. Except from the bots that have found my blog. I'm enabling the word verification to block them. Sorry.