The Irritating Alarm Research Centre.
Some secret underground lab, somewhere in County Leitrim.
26 September 2017
– Boss! Boss! That’s it! The new prototype is ready. I’m so very excited! What shall we call it? How about ‘The First False Alert at 3 AM’?
– God no, Donnacha, absolutely not. Some of the more discerning consumers out there could smell a rat. No, no, remember, we flog these as safety devices, don’t you forget! Let’s opt for a more innocuous ‘First Alert’. Full stop. But with the little R in a circle, to show we have registered it as our baby.
– Oh boss, that is so totally brilliant. They totally won’t see it coming. ‘First Alert’ Full stop. So totally brilliant!
– I know Donnacha, I know. Years of experience you see… Talking about experience, are you sure that you have completed the full testing script?
– Yes, boss. I have tested it over and over. This is our masterpiece.
– Tell me about the shrill alarm sound.
– 85 db, boss. Enough to get your eardrums bleeding within 30 seconds!
– Great, how about the little LED light?
– Bright red, boss. 5 lumen this time. The old model, at 2 lumen, was not quite annoying enough during those long nights of insomnia when the non-sleeper counts the intervals between the little red flashes. I have also totally altered the sequence, to really mess up their sleep-deprived little heads. It can be anything between 7 and 45 seconds, in a totally random order!
– Nice one, my evil and talented young assistant. Tell me about the touch of genius though, the low battery indicator, tell me without delay!
– We are really going to drive them nuts with that one, boss. We’ve managed to create a pitiful short 0.25 second bleat reminiscent of the baby lamb dying of hypothermia in the Scottish hills on a cold October night. It is both weak and impossible not to hear. And the best of all is that you cannot pin point its location.
– Are you absolutely certain Donnacha?
– Beyond the shadow of a doubt, boss. We have tested it on lab rats for the last 18 months. They all eventually die of stress. With four alarms in the house, they can never tell which one is emitting the low-battery sounds.
– What about the intervals? Not too close I hope.
– Fat chance, boss! We’ve learned from our past mistakes. We shall not repeat the fiasco of the 2012 Houseguard Essential Alarm. No, this time the low-battery sounds come at precisely 17 minute intervals. For the first one, the sleeper wakes up, without being entirely sure if he dreamt of a little lamb dying in the Scottish hills and calling for its mothers or not. 17 minutes later, he definitely hears it. And he knows that it is not a dying lamb, but one of the fire alarms. His wife asks him to do something about it. 17 minutes later, they both hear it, and they are quite sure that it comes from the one on the first floor landing. She tells him to go and sort it out. But it’s cold, and he cannot drag himself out of bed. 17 minutes later, he wonders if it is the one on the first floor landing or the one in the attic room. The kids have woken up too. His wife demands that he does something about it as it cannot go on all night. He puts on his pyjama trousers, and goes and wait below the fire alarm on the first floor landing. He sits on the carpet and wraps himself in his bathrobe. He falls asleep while sitting. At the next bleat, he wakes with a start and he is quite certain that it comes from the attic room. He goes and takes position in the attic room. He does not fall asleep this time. He is fully awake as he is too cold. And his wife his giving out from the bedroom below, he can hear her. And the kids are awake too. One of them is crying that he is very tired and he will not be able to go to school tomorrow.
– Brilliant Donnacha, brilliant, I feel like I am there with them, watching their marriage disintegrate at 3 AM, brilliant! Go on, please go on!
– At the next bleat, he is 100% certain that it is coming from the fire alarm in the attic room. He was there, just below, waiting for it. He goes downstairs to get the EUR16 Ikea footstool, bring it up to the attic room, opens up the shaggin alarm, breaks a bracket in the process but he doesn’t give a fuck, he is cold and exhausted and his wife is giving out in the bedroom below, so he snatches the 9v battery off. Victory. He goes back to bed. There is still a little bit of body heat under the duvet on his side of the bed. It is now 4.10 AM, he can manage another two hours sleep before his alarm goes off, if he can go back to sleep straight away. He can. He is drowsy. He is warm. His wife has finally just stopped giving out…
– And he goes back to sleep?
– No! Because just when he’s fallen back to sleep… ‘Bleat’! It’s the fire alarm on the landing after all! His wife goes ballistic. All three kids are now crying. He wishes that he was dead.
– Genius Donnacha, genius! And are you absolutely sure that the low-battery bleat cannot go off during the day? At a quiet time, when people could hear it, and change the battery?
– Not a chance. This time we have fitted to hidden sensors on the device. They calculate with only a 0.02% error marging the midway point between the switching off of the light in the marital bedroom and the first flushing of the toilet after the first morning wee in the household. It is foolproof, it can only happen in the dead of the night.
– Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant! What are we waiting for?! We should market the First Alert right away!
– We have, boss. They went on the shelves this morning. And I learned from a reliable source that the first unit was sold to a certain mememe2U in Argos Dun Laoghaire at 11am.