Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Beep beep

I've been in this McPartment almost two years. I have two smoke alarms. When I moved in the power was turned off. I discovered the reason was the smoke alarm in the bedroom needed a new battery and they didn't want to deal with it. I soon discovered why. The cursed thing is hardwired so it doesn't stop beeping when you take the battery out. It's never been clear to me why it also needs a battery.

Anyway, it was a Saturday night. I had to run around town finding a store open to get the right one. Then it took me almost an hour to get the battery changed. It's the cheeziest, most poorly designed unit I've ever seen. Getting the battery out is easy but for some reason, it's really hard to get a square battery to fit back into the round end where the little door is.

I'm not even sure how it works. It doesn't have any visible contacts for the battery ends. There's just a rectanglular slot in the plastic cover where you can see a light shining deep inside the unit. The round end doesn't fit into it, it just rests against it. If you break the unit, they'll charge you a couple of hundred bucks to replace it. The ceilings are also high, so I have to stand on a chair and some phone books and still have to reach up to fuss with it.

That first time it took forever to figure out how to get the cursed battery into the slot. By the time I was done, I had managed to set it off twice. By then it was clear why the management person has spent so much time warning me about ripping the unit out of the ceiling. It crossed my mind more than once during the ordeal.

Since then, the bedroom unit hasn't needed a new battery. The living room unit went through two. Replacing that one was just as big a nightmare. By now I figured out how to easily slide the battery in, but I couldn't get it to work. I realized after 45 minutes that I was putting it in backwards.

The last time was this Saturday, in the middle of the night. It's always a Saturday in the middle of the night. I was prepared with brand new batteries with the right kind of terminal ends to make it easy to get it installed. I was careful to put in it in the right way. It still took 25 minutes. The battery doesn't fit snugly either so it has to seat just right and you have to screw the cover back in or the beeping won't stop. You have to wait three minutes between beeps to see if it worked. Nothing is more discouraging than thinking you did it, and then hearing the cursed beep again.

By the last time I was praying to every spirit I could think of that it would just stop. I literally held my breath at the three minute mark. The sweet sound of success. Silence.

There's a lot of things I'll miss about this place when I leave. Changing the damn battery won't be one of them.


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