I want to tell you about the day my life became an episode of Friends.

My mom came to visit me for Christmas 2009 when I was living in Scotland, and since she had had a teenage dream of living in Antwerp, we decided to do something extra fun and spend New Year’s Eve in Belgium.

But first…

In the week or so leading up to my mom’s arrival, my kitchen fire alarm started to beep. It would usually happen when I was making dinner or making toast, so I would blame the extra steam/smoke in the kitchen and fan the alarm until it stopped.

Now, you have to know that fanning my alarm was a task in itself, because my beautiful flat had high ceilings – between 10-13 feet, I would say. So I would get a tea towel, stand on my tip toes, and flail around hoping for the best.

The beeping would usually stop and I would go on with my day.

But sometimes it would randomly beep at night when I wasn’t even near my kitchen. Sometimes it would beep once. Sometimes it would beep once every few minutes for an hour. I tried my best to ignore it, and it was so sporadic that it wasn’t really an issue – just an annoyance.

Also, I’m a bit of a freak about ladders – as in I don’t like to climb them unless I absolutely have to, so I decided there was no stopping the beeping for the time being.

Shortly after my mom arrived in Glasgow, we were awoken by the intermittent beeping. It was one of those is-that-sound-in-my-dream-or-in-real-life situations until it got annoying enough that I got up and realized it was my stupid kitchen fire alarm.

Being the truly awesome daughter that I am, I made my tiny mom climb the ladder my landlords had left in my closet to remove the battery from the alarm.

(She was cool with it; I didn’t like, force her up there.)

Wonderful. No more beeping.

Fast forward about a week. My mom and I had a lovely Christmas together, including a week or so of puppysitting my canine BFF, Audrey. It was somewhere around December 27, and we were preparing for our flight to Belgium. The flight was leaving EARLY, and we were departing from a regional airport outside of Glasgow, so we had to get up even earlier to allow for commuting time, etc., etc.

Right after we went to bed, we were awoken by a persistent beeping.

“What the fuck?” I said, crawling out of bed wearing a perma-scowl.

(I like to think I’m not grumpy about sleep until something wakes me up when I really want to be asleep. Then I can’t deny that I am a grumpy mf’er if you wake me up in the middle of the night for a stupid reason.)

It was the fire alarm in my living room this time.

I fanned it. It didn’t stop.

So, once again with the awesome daughter thing, I got my mom onto the ladder to examine the situation. She couldn’t figure out how to remove this one from the ceiling, so she jiggled it around a bit. The beeping stopped.

At this point, we had maybe three hours left to sleep before we had to get up to rush to the airport.

You know how when you have to be up stupid early, you think you’ll function at a normal human pace, but then when the time comes you’re all groggy and slow and complain-y, so things take a million times longer until you realize you should have actually given yourself like, an hour extra?

That’s what happened the next morning at 4:30am when we got up to get ready for our flight to Belgium.

And just as we were finishing our prep, THE FIRE ALARM STARTED BEEPING AGAIN.

My mom ran up the ladder, trying to jiggle it around some more. It stopped.

We started gathering our bags by my front door and the beeping started again.

“What is this, some kind of cruel joke?!” I exclaimed to the sky, sleep-deprived and rage-y.

I started to have visions (see: nightmare thoughts) of my stupid fire alarm going off while I was in Belgium and my neighbours like, calling the police or something, and then breaking into my flat to make the sound disturbance stop, and then of me coming home to Glasgow to find that all my shit had been stolen, or I had been fined an obscene amount of money or something.

“We have to make it stop.”

My mom did what any normal person would do in the situation: she yanked at the fire alarm until it ripped off the ceiling. Pieces broke off it. I didn’t care. We had to be at the airport. I threw the stupid fire alarm onto the kitchen counter and we took off.

That way, the only thing I had to be worried about while we were gone was my flat burning down and no one knowing. (Hilariously, something similar would happen to me just a few months down the road.)

Lessons learned:

(A) Life is often just like TV.

(B) Never ignore a persistent beeping.

(C) Shit always goes wrong when you don’t have time to deal with it.


P.S. My mom and I almost missed our flight because we were in such an insane rush to get to the airport, and then we got a little bit held up at airport security. Why, you ask? Well, my mom set off the metal detectors, and while she was getting a pat down, the security officer found something stuck in the collar of her sweater.

A tiny metal coil, from the fire alarm she had ripped off my ceiling and broken less than an hour earlier.

“What is this?”

“What is tha–oh, that’s a funny story…”

Thank goodness we didn’t get arrested before we got to Belgium.

Beautiful canals in Bruges. Photo Copyright Andrea Beça.
Beautiful canals in Bruges. Photo Copyright Andrea Beça.