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In Our Own Backyard...Time is our enemy

We’ve all been there — you’re staying at the home of a friend or relative and the jets flying over the house, or the ambulance sirens wailing in the night, or (in the case of city folks) the sound of croaking frogs or wailing loons can sometimes keep you up all night.

0 Talk about it

Or, maybe it’s the glow of an unfamiliar nightlight, or the too-flat bed pillows, or the chill of the night when your host sets the thermostat down to 60 degrees. Most anything that isn’t quite like home can cause you to lose sleep at night. Usually, you can manage to put up with it for a night or two without the bags under your eyes becoming painfully obvious, but if it’s your house that’s causing others to lose sleep, you darn well better do something about it.

A few years back I invested in a cheap radio alarm for our upstairs guest room. I always hate staying somewhere where there’s no clock to tell you what time it is (though I don’t understand why it should matter to me in the middle of the night!). And if I am in need of awaking at a particular hour, it’s pretty much mandatory to have an alarm clock in my room.

Though a lot of folks have become reliant on their smart phones to check the time or wake up in the morning, our household has not yet become smart-phone dependent. We still utilize alarm clocks.

Getting back to the story — the radio alarm that I bought seemed harmless enough. It had all the usual features to set the time on the clock, the time on the alarm and the option to awake to an alarm sound or the radio. I took it up to the guest room, plugged it in, set the time and that was that. But one night when my family came to visit and I put my mom in that room, the clock’s alarm went off in the middle of the night with a chirping sound loud enough to wake the dead. The following morning, she politely informed me of the midnight intrusion and I apologized profusely. And though I tinkered with the darn thing for 10 minutes or so, the same thing happened the following night. I unplugged the clock completely and stashed it away in a drawer.

I didn’t think much more about it until pending company last weekend caused me to go in search of it, since one of the spare bedrooms was again without a clock. I dug the cast-off radio alarm out of the drawer, reset the time, made certain the alarm was disabled and plugged it in. At 11:30 p.m. that night, I was awakened to the distant — but distinctive — sound of the clock’s very loud alarm going off upstairs. I threw back the covers, sprinted to the spare bedroom and ripped the clock’s cord out of the wall.

The next morning I took it down to the living room and told my husband that we would somehow have to figure out how to stop the clock’s alarm from going off if we were going to put it in the same room with our company, who were slated to arrive later that day. He promised me he’d give it his full attention and make certain the alarm was deactivated once and for all. He spent considerable time examining it and all of its various settings, and then he plugged it in and set it on an end table to test it out.

Both of us sort of forgot about it after our company arrived. After a nice evening together we all turned in for bed. At 6 a.m. the following morning, I was wrenched from my bed once again to the sound of the clock’s wild chirping alarm going off in the living room. Without regard for my state of semi-undress, I tore into the living room and once again yanked the cord from the wall. By the time I returned to bed, I could hear our guests stirring around upstairs, no doubt awakened by the jarring sound of the alarm.

Several of us tinkered with the alarm clock off and on throughout the day, but every time we thought we had it licked, the alarm would go off once again. It was as though it was possessed by some demon that paid no heed to the “Alarm Off” button and shrieked whenever it chose to. There seemed to be no way to stop it.

Our nerves were on edge and we were completely perplexed by the end of the day, and my husband at last declared, “I want that thing OUT of the house!” I suggested maybe we should take it to Goodwill, since it was still practically new, but we decided we didn’t want its curse to be passed along to some other unsuspecting party.

And so, we did the only other thing that we could think of — we sent it home with my brother-in-law!