Before we begin--I will let you know that everyone's names are changed in the book, much like in this blog. However, I assumed that names like "YKW" and "RV" and "Spawn" wouldn't work as well in a book as they do on a blog, so I gave people actual names. I randomly picked them based on characters from my Sims' games. So, for this chapter, you're going to read about "Edson." That would be Hat aka YKW. So, now that you're up to speed--enjoy!!
Ch. 4: Don't Try This At Home
“Mmmmm…‘larm…turnyer ‘larm off…” I mumbled, nudging Edson to wake him up. He always slept through his alarm (which played church bells that got progressively louder!! Talk about the worst alarm clock noise ever…). So, I was constantly being woken up by his stupid alarm.
“Hmm?” he asked through his deep sleep. He wasn’t awake enough to hear the alarm going off.
“Your ‘larm. Turn it off,” I said, keeping my eyes closed. If I kept my eyes closed, then it would be like I never had even woken up.
“What?” Edson said, sitting up on this elbows with sleep still thick in his voice. “What is that? That’s not my alarm.”
I rolled over and opened one eye to look at him. He was right. It wasn’t his alarm. “Well, what is it then?” I asked. It was definitely an alarm of some kind. But it wasn’t horrible church bells, so it couldn’t be Edson’s alarm. Plus, looking at the clock, I could see it was roughly 3:00 a.m., which was too early even for Edson’s alarm to be going off.
“I dunno,” he said, getting up. He paced through our small basement apartment and announced, “No fire.” As if I couldn’t tell that already from…oh, I don’t know…the lack of a fire anywhere. He wandered over to the kitchen and looked around. “Oh crap,” I heard him say from the kitchen.
“What? Oh crap what?”
“It’s the carbon monoxide detector. That’s what’s going off.”
“Really?” I asked, opening both eyes now.
“Yep,” Edson came back over to the bed, “So now what are we supposed to do? Any ideas?”
Yep—go back to bed. That was my idea.
“I don’t frigging know. I vote that you just try to re-set it and then open a window or something and then we go back to bed. If it goes off again, then let’s worry about it.” I suggested, closing my eyes again and rolling over. I would later find out that this was pretty much the absolute worst idea I could have possibly come up with, because an open window provides an exit for the oxygen in the room and the room actually fills up faster with carbon monoxide. I had incorrectly assumed that the carbon monoxide would leave through the windows if they were open. Plus, I really just wanted to go back to sleep. This is the point in my life that I learned an important fact about myself: if I have to choose between not dying or sleeping, I’m going to choose sleeping.
And apparently Edson would also choose that, because he just hit the re-set button on the dumb alarm, opened a few windows, and then came back to bed. I immediately fell back asleep. This is how stupid people die. I’m an idiot.
…one hour later…
“Damnit, it’s going off again,” Edson was saying as he shook me awake, “Wake up, it’s the carbon monoxide detector again. Opening the window isn’t working. We gotta do something else, I guess.”
I groaned heavily and said, very sad, “I guess we need to get up, right?”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
I found my shoes and my glasses, pulled a sweatshirt over my head, and shuffled out the door behind Edson. Edson promptly sat down on the steps and tried to lie down as much as he could on the steps.
“Ok, we’re out. Now what?” he asked, closing his eyes and looking like he was ready to fall asleep right there on the steps.
That was a very good question. In school, we had fire drills, but we’d never had carbon monoxide drills. The public service announcements on TV always tell you to get out of the house but then they don’t tell you what you’re supposed to do after that.
“Hell if I know,” I shrugged, “Do we call 911?”
“Yes?? I don’t know. I guess that would make sense, wouldn’t it?”
“Well, it’s not exactly an emergency…
“No, it’s not exactly an emergency, but what else can we do?”
He was right. I shuffled back into the house and grabbed the phone. I punched in the number and looked over at Edson, who had already fallen asleep on the steps in the 30 seconds it took me to walk into the apartment and get the phone.
“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?” the woman asked.
“Uh, well, I’m not sure…I’m not sure if I’m calling the right place. The carbon monoxide detector in my apartment is going off and we’re not sure who we’re supposed to call about that.” I felt rude calling 911 for this reason. I knew I was clogging up the 911 phone line when I didn’t have a real emergency. Somewhere there was some poor elderly lady trapped inside her burning building trying to call 911 and she wasn’t going to be able to get through so she was burning to a crisp while I talked to this dispatcher about a stupid alarm. Or, some little boy’s kidnapper had finally gone to the bathroom, leaving the boy alone for a few precious minutes, and he’d dashed to the phone to call 911 to get help and instead he was getting a busy signal now and in two days I’d see on the news, “Kidnapped 7-year-old boy found dead—authorities say, ‘If only he’d had a chance to call for help!’”
“Yes, you should call 911. Is anyone still inside the house,” the dispatcher politely responded. But, I could tell she was just being polite. She was probably secretly pissed about me calling and wasting her time.
“No, we knew enough to get out of the apartment,” I replied. I figured she didn’t need to know that we’d originally just opened a window and stayed inside the apartment for awhile. I was already starting to figure out that that probably wasn’t the best decision I’d ever made…
“Ok good. Is anyone displaying signs of carbon monoxide poisoning that will require medical attention?”
“Um…what are those?”
“Well, is anyone feeling sleepy?”
I looked over at Edson, who was completely passed out on the steps.
“Uhhh…yeah, but it’s like four in the morning.” I replied.
“Oh right, of course. Well, any headaches or nausea?”
“Nope, none of those.”
“Ok, that’s a good sign. We’ll send the fire department to check things out. They should be there shortly—they are already on the way.” She informed me. I sat down on the steps to wait.
Apparently, “shortly” means “20 minutes later because this isn’t a real emergency and we know it and we’re busy rescuing a lady from a burning building,” because that’s how long it took for them to get there. The lights were on, but there wasn’t any sirens going off. Even the fire truck was bored with my non-emergency emergency call.
I waited outside next to Edson, who was still totally asleep, as three firefighters traipsed around my apartment with things that looked like Geiger counters in their hands. After about 15 minutes, they came back out.
“You’re good, no carbon monoxide,” one of them announced.
Wait, what? No carbon monoxide? Well, then why the hell was I sitting on the steps at 4-freaking-something in the morning?
“What?” I asked, confused, “But, the alarm was going off. Twice. How is there no carbon monoxide but the alarm went off. Twice.”
“Sometimes those things go off when the battery is low. False alarm. Maybe you need to change the battery?” one firefighter helpfully suggested. Well, now I wanted to punch something. I was out in my yard in my pajamas with firefighters because of a low battery?? Stupid.
Edson and I headed back in after thanking the firefighters who so kindly came to rescue us from the perils of a low battery instead of jaws-of-lifeing a kid out of a burning car. We both curled back up in bed and started to drift off to sleep. Well, I started to drift off—I’m pretty sure that Edson had been asleep the entire time. Just as I was starting to finally sink back into deep sleep, the phone rang. Why the hell was the phone ringing at this time of the morning? It was almost 5:00 a.m.! No one needs anything at that time of the morning!
“‘lo?” I grumbled into the phone, struggling to clear my brain of the sleep-cloud it was currently in.
“Hi there, I’m calling from the gas company. I understand that you had a carbon monoxide detector go off?” a chipper woman asked.
“Uh, yeah, we did. The fire department came out and they checked it all out. Everything is okay—false alarm. I guess the battery is low or something.”
“Mmm-hmm, well, okay, we’re going to need to send someone from our office to come out there and check on the home and make sure that there isn’t a carbon monoxide leak anywhere in the home.”
Did she not hear what I just said??
“No, the fire department already did that. They came with the little wand things and waved them around and checked everything out. They said we’re good. I don’t think you have to come out now, since it’s already been taken care of by the fire department.”
“Well, ma’am,” she cheerfully yet somehow still condescendingly said to me, “We actually do still need to send a technician out there to verify the fire department’s determination. We need to have one of our folks double check and ensure that you are all safe and sound.”
“I’m sure we’re fine. The fire department already checked. It’s like 5:00 a.m. I kind of want to just go back to sleep now.”
“I’m sorry to inconvenience you, ma’am, but we are required to send someone out to verify that everything is all right.”
“But the fire department saying everything is fine—that’s not good enough? You need to have some technician guy come do the same thing and make sure the fire department got it right? You can’t just trust their analysis?”
“No, ma’am, we’re not allowed to just trust the fire department on this. A carbon monoxide leak can be a very dangerous situation. Exposure can lead to death.”
My brain was starting to hurt from this conversation…
“Right, I know. Exposure can lead to death. And of course you can’t simply trust the fire department to adequately handle a life and death situation like this.”
“No ma’am, we can’t,” she responded, sounding relieved that I was finally getting what she was saying, “This is really something only we can take care of adequately.”
Moral of the story: fireman cannot be trusted with matters of life and death. Call your local gas company in an emergency.