Marking the hours

Any new home will have its quirks, and a new 100-plus year old home will have plenty. We will have a complete modern alarm system soon, but at the moment, due to supply chain limbo, we have a combination of what was there and new parts.

And the legacy system is…interesting. Most notably: It starts beeping on the minute, every minute, three times per day. Those times are 8:00 a.m., 6:00 p.m., and 9:00 p.m. (Well, to be precise, according to my phone, 7:59 a.m., 5:59 p.m., and 8:59 p.m., but the system thinks it is on the hour). It is simple enough to turn it off when it starts beeping, but it does not appear to be a simple matter to turn off those 3x day alerts.

I have gone through various states of mind about this. At first I was confused — thinking the beeping was just random. Then, once I realized it was happening every day at the same times, I was incensed (9:00 p.m. is often less than 30 minutes after I have gotten the baby down and when the big kids are going to their beds and an every-minute-on-the-minute beeping is not exactly a welcome addition to that situation).

Of late, I have become more resigned. I view it as a way to mark the hours, much as the medieval monks had a certain schedule of chants and services. Lauds. Complines. Vespers. They provide structure to the day. By 8 a.m., the day should be ready to start (even on weekends). At 6 p.m. the workday is done and dinner should be in process. At 9 p.m. people should be drifting toward in-room quiet time if they are not actually asleep. I could be doing something else, but then I will hear the chime, and realize what time of day it is. Oh yes. It is 6 p.m. again. Time to go do my little ceremony of turning off the beeping. I usually get it before the third beep.

(Interestingly, the other two adults who might be in the house at some of those times are not nearly as bothered by a once-a-minute beep as me, nor are the kids. On the days when I have been out at one of those times, I will come home and occasionally find at, say, 6:15 p.m. that the beep is still happening every minute and everyone is just happily going about their lives.)

Anyway, there is no larger point of this little essay, though I’m sure we all have certain markers we put in the day. In the deepest days of lockdowns, this could actually be a coping strategy. Lunch precisely at noon, outside time at 4:00, dinner precisely at 6:30 to keep the day from being a complete wash of space, inviting existential angst.

As it is, I will be happy not to have the beeping soon. But I have made my peace with it (mostly) for now.

9 thoughts on “Marking the hours

  1. So funny no one else is bothered. Right now there is something in my house that periodically plays an electronic sounding Auld Lang Syne (maybe a greeting card???). It is not so regular as your alarm, but its driving my crazy and none of the other 6 people in my house even notice it. I spent 10 minutes at 4:$5 this morning trying to find the source, but no luck. Will it still be chirping away when I get home from work this evening…very possibly.

    1. @Gillian: This is hilarious. I’m so sorry because at 4:45 no one wants to be hunting down a greeting card…but it’s also hilarious.
      I just wrote a blog post today about how we used to have issues with our CO detector beeping in the middle of the night (a battery-backup warning beep, not a CO leak beep) and I would sometimes THROW the detector into the trunk of the car until morning because I could not get it to stop.

      But literally no one else would wake up, including my husband. Which is slightly worrying if there ever was an actual CO leak…

      1. We similarly found out our kids are super deep sleepers. Where we live the building code now requires smoke detectors in every bedroom that have a strobe light in addition to the alarm and we re-built our house not that long ago so we have this set up wired into the house. We had a false alarm not too long ago because apparently dust can make it malfunction. In the middle of the night it went off and we were so disoriented with the strobe flashing trying to run around and see if there was an actual problem. Not to mention the actual ear splitting alarm that also calls out of “Fire, feu!” And the kids did NOT wake up. We will be carrying them out in the event of a real emergency. Good to know, I guess

  2. I am also the only one in my house who notices/cares about annoying noises. And smells. Like if a room suddenly smells, everyone else just pretends they don’t notice. Or maybe I just am more sensitive to these things.

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