: emergency, my eye :

My-oh-my, yesterday was a glorious morning. Sunny and clear and warm, all the adjectives you want in a weather forecast. The sky was blue, the grass was green. The birdies were singing, a sweet-scented breeze wafted, the world was abloom, it was utopia.

Then the tornado sirens went off.

Now it doesn’t matter how courageous you are or how many times you’ve heard them wail, your hair will stand on end at the sound. An ominous, foreboding racket that fills a person with an alarming sense of dread. The images it conjures are not of a bicycling Mrs. Gulch, no, but of the Luftwaffe and The Blitz and stiff upper lips. It’s like every World War II movie you’ve ever seen, except this isn’t Britain and it’s not 1940.

It’s Illinois at ten in the morning on the first Tuesday of the month, the appointed hour for testing the emergency sirens. Were I a nefarious sort, the first Tuesday of the month would be my busy time. With the warning sirens already blaring, it would be the ideal moment to stage a coup or create other various and sundry mayhem.

Even worse, imagine if a Category F3 Tornado had dropped out of the sky at, say, 10ish in the a.m. Who’d have run for cover? Exactly no one, that’s who. We’d have been caught flat-footed. Okay, the odds are really long against such a thing happening, but they’re pretty long against winning the lottery, too, yet someone always collects the big money, don’t they?

This same principle of false alarms is hard at work in my new place: the smoke detectors go off as soon as the stove burners are lit. The property manager suggests using an electric fan while cooking, because the smoke detectors are ultra, ultra sensitive. To what? They go off before the pan can get warm — beeeepbeeeepbeeeepbeeeep.

To prevent this, I have to stand under the smoke detector and fan the ceiling with a magazine. Do I feel stoopid? Sure I do, but I refuse to buy a fan I don’t want or need. And, judging by the number of smoke detectors I hear, I’m not alone. If ever there is a fire, no one will stampede the exits, they’ll just plug their ears and turn up the tv.

The moral of the story?
Beware of the people who are paid to protect us. They’re not helping.

Copyright © Publikworks 2012

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25 Responses to “: emergency, my eye :”

    • publikworks

      Hi, ww, I was so afraid everyone would have forgotten me! It’s wonderful to hear you haven’t. Thank you. So how are things with you?

      Like

  1. 1pointperspective

    After a rather substantial renovation job, we had to have hard-wired smoke detectors throughout the house. No worries about dead batteries or having an alarm go off in some distant corner of the house and not be heard. Oh contraire, when any of the detectors goes off, they ALL go off. For the record, an electric fan won’t work unless you’re standing under the detector with it, so stick with the magazines. Also, you may want to reserve having “blackened” anything (tuna, chicken, etc) in a restaurant, unless you have a long armed, energetic assistant to wave the magazines non-stop.

    Also, welcome back!

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    • publikworks

      Thanks, 1point, it’s good to be back! I’m going to take your advice and leave the blackened foods to the restaurant professionals. I can manage fanning the smoke detector for as long as it takes to make tea, any longer than that and I get impatient. I’m considering super gluing a tupperware bowl over it. Would that work, you think?

      Like

  2. nevercontrary

    Hello stranger.
    I saw the pic of tornado and thought oh no she lives in dallas. Phew that was a relief.
    We have alarms that sound lightening at my school. They have a similar effect on me.

    Like

    • publikworks

      Hey there, nc! It’s good to see you, how are things?

      I’ve heard the safest place to be when there’s lightning around is a car. I don’t know if that’s true, but it sounds good.

      Like

  3. ceciliag

    awesome~! I can’t hear any of those warning thingies from out here on the farmy anyway, plus i do not listen to the radio or watch the tele.. ever.. so I would just never know.. works for me!!! c

    Like

  4. suzymarie56

    It’s so nice to have you back! We used to have fire alarm tests on campus every week and there was always that fleeting moment where your hair stood on end and you thought, oh crap, there’s a fire, I’m in my pyjamas and I’m going to have to go outside. That feeling quickly passed and instead everyone was just annoyed that their sleep was being interrupted. Seems very safe to me…. NOT.

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    • publikworks

      It’s nice to get back to something familiar and comfortable. I missed you guys — thanks for not forgetting me.

      Every week you had fire alarm tests? Wow. Do they really believe people need that much practice finding their way outside? I’m glad you made it out, suzymarie, stay safe.

      Like

  5. Lenore Diane

    “Beware of the people who are paid to protect us. They’re not helping.”
    Hahahahahahaha! That is so funny, Lisa!

    You are gone for weeks at a time, and you return with a bang! How do you do that?!

    It is always good to see you in the ‘sphere’. You should have given up cooking for Lent.

    Like

    • publikworks

      Hey, Lenore, hi! How are you? Has your blunk gone away? I’m still struggling with mine. I think it’s the constantly changing thyroid meds. Or else my narrative flow has run dry. Thanks for the encouragement, though.

      Let’s keep plugging along, okay? On the bright side, Lent ends on Sunday! Cookies and ice cream for all. Woohoo.

      Like

  6. clownonfire

    Woohoo!! It would be easy to comment about your post. But I’d rather welcome you back! Now don’t do it again.
    Le Clown

    Like

    • publikworks

      Aww, thank you, clown. It’s wonderful to see you again! I promise to stick around for a long, long time. But you have to promise, too. Deal?

      Like

    • publikworks

      Hi, home tome, how is life in Nyack?

      Don’t listen to Chicken Little, those are falling stars and the Northern Lights and space junk. The sky’s in good shape. Probably : )

      Like

  7. Angie Z.

    I was in a major twister as a kid that destroyed part of our home. Jimmy Carter came to observe the town’s damage. That’s how bad it was. So when I hear tornado sirens, I throw myself down and begin crawling to the nearest interior closet or basement. Nothing ticks me off like those test sirens.

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    • publikworks

      Last summer they went off several times in weather-related false alarms here, but did people run for basements? No, they went outside and milled around, scanning the skies for funnel clouds. They’ve heard ‘wolf’ too many times and that’s very, very dangerous. So I’m with you, Angie.

      Like

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