You stand around waiting... waiting... waiting for the dreaded "meep." But, when it finally arrives, you cannot tell from whence it comes.
Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night by the "meep" of a smoke detector? If you have, you'll know what I'm talking about.
It's trying to tell you that its battery is running low. For some reason this always happens in the "wee hours." Someone once told me that this is because the battery cools down and thus its voltage is reduced sufficiently to trigger the warning -- it's not some strange game the designers of the detector are playing with my mind.
In order to conserve what little power remains, the unit emits only an occasional beep. I understand why the designers went this way, but the end result is that -- unless you've played this game before and know where to look -- you cannot easily identify exactly what's doing the "meeping."
So you stand in the hallway waiting... waiting... waiting for the "meep." But when it comes you only obtain a vague idea of its location, so you go and stand somewhere else and start the long wait again with the desperate hope or triangulating on the source.
The problem is that the sound is such that it's not easy to tie down. If the thing went "meep... meep... meep... meap..." continuously, then you'd be able to easily hone in on it because it would get louder when you were heading in the right direction. It's the lonesome individual "meeps" that throw you off.
The reason I'm waffling on about this is that something similar happened to me this morning. I'm currently residing in a hotel while on a business trip to Silicon Valley in California. I'd requested a wake-up call at 6:00 a.m., so I wasn't too surprised to be awoken by a subdued "meep-meep" sound. I lay there gathering my thoughts, and 20 seconds or so later the "meep-meep" occured again. I turned on the light and my watch said 5:55 a.m., so I thought, "Well, that's close enough for government work" (as the old saying goes).
The thing was that I wasn't sure where the sound was coming from. It didn't seem to be coming from the phone next to my bed; when I picked that up all I heard was a dial tone. "Perhaps they are using the television," I thought, so I powered it on and off again, but a few seconds later I heard "meep-meep."
I called reception and said, "I know this sounds silly, but I can't work out how to turn off the wake-up call." The lady on reception checked, and then informed me that it was set for 6:00 a.m. (which was still a minute or so away) and hadn't started yet, but that she had cancelled the alarm for me anyway.
I put the phone down and lay back on my pillow, only to hear "meep-meep." Well, what a performance. I spent the next 30 minutes standing in different parts of the room. At one point I thought it was one of my (three) computers... but it wasn't. For a while I toyed with the idea that it was the mini-bar fridge... but it wasn't.
On a couple of occasions I glanced suspiciously at my backpack, but I knew for a fact that I didn't have an alarm clock with me, so I continued to look elsewhere.
Eventually, after I'd rearranged all of the furniture and examined the room in intimate detail, my eyes returned to my backpack. I pulled out my digital camera (it wasn't that), my Flip Video camera (not that), and my noise-cancelling headphones (they would never betray me).
I pulled out chargers, business cards, memory sticks (see my blog What's in Your Backpack?) until my room looked like a whirlwind had gone through it. Well, that was that, the backpack was empty. I was just about to put it down when I heard the dreaded "meep-meep."
I fixed my backpack with a steely glare. I'm convinced it quailed a little at my expression. I felt in all the pockets once again, and there -- crammed in a corner snuggled away in its little black velvet bag -- I found the miniature Bluetooth speaker I use with my iPad. For a few seconds I stood there looking quizzically at the speaker sitting in the palm of my hand, at which point I was rewarded with a cheery "meep-meep."
I have no idea how this came to pass. Mayhap the little scamp had been jarred into its active state during my travels and its battery had finally run down. Of course, why the fates dictated this would occur right around the time of my wake-up call... we'll never know.
Have you ever played "hunt the smoke detector" in the middle of the night? Has anything like my rogue speaker experience ever happened to you?