Why Didn't You Tell Me To Shoot The Smoke Alarm?


If there is one thing this milspouse is great at, it’s problem solving. So when the only smoke alarm mounted on our freakishly tall ceiling starts beeping for no reason, I spring into action. *Beeeep*

Think, think. First question to self: Do I need help? Um… self, you know you don’t need help. You are strong, and you got this.

There is a huge aluminum ladder in the garage we use to put Christmas lights on the roof. I’ll just carry that in here and climb it straight to the ceiling, Jack and the Beanstalk style. I’ll be Jack. The ladder will be my beanstalk. It’ll be fun. *Beeeep*

I head to the garage. Oh, crud. My car is blocking in the ladder. That’s ok. I’ll just lift that beast over the roof. Brilliant idea. I told you I was a problem solver. *Beeeeep*

Yup, I can definitely reach the alarm with this thing. This was a great idea. *Beeeep*

I climb the ladder.Holy junk, this thing is loud. Must work quickly. I fidget with the plastic casing. Nothing. Who assembled this thing? Satan? Is this a cruel joke? Is this thing child-protected? Do they see 18-foot children walking around here? *BEEEEP*

Oh, there it is. A teeny tiny button. I’ll push it and see what happens. Nothing. Ok… Let’s try twisting. *Plop*

The whole unit pops off of the ceiling, attached only by some multi-colored wires leading into a hole in the ceiling. *BEEEEP*

Um… where is this stupid battery? I jiggle it. I twist it. I look for more secret buttons for several more minutes. Nothing. *BEEEEP*

I’m going to scream. This is the moment of weakness. I climb down my beanstalk andgrab my phone to email the husband at work. I thought I could do this on my own, but I think I need additional brainpower.  He is not there.

I leave a message: “The smoke alarm on the tall ceiling is beeping. If you don’t call me within 30 minutes, I’m going to shoot it or cut the wires. Love you, bye.”

Actually, I can’t stand it for another minute. I have to try again. I’m smart. I can do this. So I climb up again. I fidget around some more.

What was that little button for, anyway? I try pushing it again. Something happens. A secret sliding compartment! Oh, I see what this is. This is a Houdini smoke alarm. I shall name you Houdini. *BEEEEP*

Ok, Houdini. Enough beeping. I get the point. I fidget some more. The battery pops out. Finally!! There shall be peace. I’ll just let Houdini hang there from the ceiling until the husband comes home.

My job here is done. I climb down my beanstalk once more and pick up my phone to email the husband letting him know that I figured it out. 

I’m in the middle of typing the email when…. *Beeeep*

What. The. Fudge. Where is the gun? Where are the scissors? I’m going to destroy this thing. And you know what? I’m not Jack anymore. And the ladder is not my beanstalk. This is not fun anymore. I quit. *Beeeep*

Houdini, did you fail out of smoke alarm school? Don’t you know that when I take your battery out, you’re supposed to be quiet? Now what?

Still no word from the husband. Is he doing something super important or something? Well, OK, I guess he is.

Actually, I’ve decided I don’t need his help. After all, I’m a military wife. We’re the most resourceful and independent people to ever exist in the history of ever. I got this. *Beeeep*

Ok, think think think. If I were Houdini, what would I be trying to tell me? Let’s try giving him a new battery. Like food. Maybe he’s hungry. Genius. So I rummage through the junk drawer, looking for a new 9 volt battery. Surely we have extras. Aha! There it is. Bingo! *Beeeep*

I confidently strut back over to the ladder, formerly known as my beanstalk, and climb once more. I fidget with Houdini yet again, and I wiggle that battery right into the Houdini compartment of hidden batteries. Yay! Now Houdini has a new battery. Now he will be happy and be quiet.


Mother. Of. God. I. Am. Going. To. Kill. This. Thing. 
Freak out time. I frantically twist, push, hit every button and surface on Houdini as he hang there from his wires connected to the ceiling. Take that, Houdini. I hate your guts. *BEEEP BEEEP*

Wait, what? Two beeps… What did I do? Are two beeps better than one? I stand there on the ladder and wait. No more beeps. I think I did it. I think I conquered Houdini.

I gingerly gather Houdini’s wires, stuff them back into the ceiling, and twist Houdini back into place. I wait a minute just to make sure. Shhh, there there, Houdini. You’re ok now.

I climb down the ladder for a final time and admire the giant aluminum ladder in the middle of my living room. I probably should email the husband to let him know I didn’t shoot up the living room. His 30 minutes is up anyway.

 Emily Jungblut-Swinarski is an Air Force spouse of five years currently living near Goodfellow AFB in Texas.  She is a cat lover, clean eater, and a forever supporter of military spouses.  Emily enjoys volunteering in support of military families as much as possible.  

 Why Didn't You Tell Me is our weekly feature with stories from military spouses around the globe.  To contribute your story, please reach us on the contact button above.

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