Wednesday, January 25, 2023

The Smoke Alarm Story


Image taken from Google
In the course of our vacations sometimes extraordinary things happen, and I spend hours writing them up.  By hand, on paper!  This particular one was written up in the middle of the night.  When you read it, you'll know why.  

"Room 133   Studio 6, Ocala FL

"2301.19  [January 19, 2023]  11:40pm  Just had one of the strangest adventures in my whole hotel life--!!!!  At about 11:25 (not sure), the room fire alarm started to squeal.  Just 1 peep, but there's no mistaking that sound!!!!  Then again! -- and again!  and again:  ringing peeps, 30 sec. apart.

I was sleeping without earplugs, and woke fully at once:  I don't think I was asleep [in the first place].  The pattern of separate shrieks instead of a continuous bleating was ominous:  it meant the battery was low -- and (if my own smoke-alarms were any guide) the thing would soon degenerate to total screams, continuous.       I smelled no smoke, nor any other strange smell.  The Medify [air filter] was about 8' away.... could that have any impact....??                  ......George [my husband] was still asleep!!  As he is now, poor sweet lamb,..... This is one time when I really am grateful he snores so much,......
... I realized it was our own fire detector.  Terror:  we were keeping everyone up.  In a panic of bravery I got out of bed, dug out the little flashlight from my pants pocket, opened the sliding panel on the detector & took out the batteries  !!!! !!! !!            ------- AND IT STILL SQUEALED -------
Image from Google
This was beyond anything I'd ever heard of.  "KIDDE" built for reals, for war.  There was a button in the center of the device, the only button available.  It had words, raised plastic, on both sides of the button.  Of course this meant that one side (the longer sentence) was upside down.  It is amazing what you can make yourself do in the middle of the night in a strange hotel room, half dressed, by flashlight & on tip toe, with a smoke alarm screaming every 30 seconds.
The shorter sentence said  PUSH TO HUSH.
The longer sentence said  PUSH TO TEST WEEKLY.
So, then,  I tried pushing the button.         My first attempt brought a short burst of 1-seond squeals, about 5 of them;  & then it went back to every 30 seconds.  I concluded I hadn't pushed hard enough, or long enough.
My second attempt was sufficiently long + hard enough to shut it up had it been functioning normally.  Which it wasn't.  I should have realized that, but I didn't.  The device went on peeping, albeit with fainter squeals;  George went on snoring;  and I went over and looked hard at the telephone.          And there it was:   FRONT DESK DIAL 0.              I have never been so glad of old fashioned technology.

 Thinking on one's feet is something one learns to do after 30 years of marriage to George Young.  It is an underappreciated skill by the world,....  but not by him.  😁    After that call, I pulled on my pants (the upper 1/2 already was covered in a buttoned hugshirt, courtesy this place's lack of any blankets) [oh yes & my mask] and slipped out into the hall, which was brightly lit.  I was waiting for "someone," a handyman.

And the world changed.

Image from Google

Voices from behind the opposite door were not smoke-alarmed guests, but arguing bitchy females.  Smoke there now was, but it was the faint stink of stale cigarettes, familiar the world over.  It was night outside.  Worried as I was, there is nonetheless a sweet safety & nostalgia being up at night waiting to be rescued.  I [felt I] was back at CSU in college:  This was familiar ground.

He came sooner than I expected, a youngish Mexican with just the right anxious smile, wearing (I think) a cap (?),  a sign not of servility so much as a badge of authority.  En Rapport.   There can be nothing fundamentally awry when 2 determined people both want the same thing & it is within the reach & knowledge of at least one of them.  Quietly, expertly, he produced an enormous bunch of keys & we slipped into the room;  and he twisted and took down the entire peeping thing, unplugged it & carried it away.  I gave him the batteries and thanked him as best I could.          [His was] another underappreciated skill.

George didn't wake up until 1/2 hr later, at 12:30.  I told him everything was O.K., & he went back to sleep,...  and now I should.
How can we be better allies with so resourceful a class of nations?"

Image from Google

Afterwords:  (January 25).  Note how typing has a different rhythm than handwriting.
I left a large tip at the front desk for the handyman.  The problem here was I couldn't identify him; I hadn't seen his name (or else paid no attention to it), silly me.  The desk clerk and I got it down to two out of three.  Whoever gets it can surely use it.
The lobby of that particular Studio 6 had a bronze model horse on the desk!  a knockoff of the Hartland 9" Saddlebred.  (Under my breath:  I know you!  Sculpted by Alvar Backstrand!)(Later: fact-checking:  Roger Williams sculpted that horse;  Alvar "readied the original metal sculptures for mold-making." [Gail Fitch])  The lobby had an enormous triple-panel painting of horses behind the desk, at least 30 feet up.  Not til now did I make the connection with Ocala.

Next time this happens, I shall know to twist off the detector and unplug it from behind.  There was a smaller plug attachment along its wire umbilicus.      I shan't belabour you with our other family tale of how someone set off the fire alarm in the middle of the night in a Wyoming hotel out of personal spite  (!!!!)  and George and I took that opportunity to go out birding on the prairie at the absolute crack of dawn.  That was a Super 8, in the Before Times, probably early 20teens.
The 'better allies' quote comes from Mares In Black.  Thank you Jackie!  & Heather. 
This makes twice on our [January] trip when we were saved, absolutely saved, by hotel employees.  The first time was my fault [a wrong reservation], but this second time was not.  The two saviours were from opposite ends of the spectrum of hotel employees, but nonetheless saved our bacon.  I can't decide if this is because we're getting older or the world is getting more stressed out, or what.  Of all arts to practice in ageing, being grateful is not the hardest.  I can hope.