The Time I Actually Trusted Yahoo! Answers

Last night Beth and I were all set to devour a pint of ice cream and watch trash TV watch some critically acclaimed programming when we heard what sounded like the smoke detector going off. Only it wasn’t the piercingly annoying sound of the smoke detector going off in your own apartment; it was the slightly fainter, not at all slightly less annoying sound of the smoke detector going off in your downstairs neighbors' apartment.

Beth called the landlord who promptly told us, in not so many words, that we were SOL. Why he doesn’t have the phone number for his downstairs tenant is a little perplexing. Guess he’s not too interested in tracking said tenant down if he leaves the apartment on a whim and bails on a few months of rent.

Beth didn’t seem too concerned, and I wasn’t at first, either. But that constant sound does something to your brain (I think that’s the point). I started to get paranoid. Obviously our downstairs neighbor wasn’t home; what if there was a fire blazing down there? What if it was the carbon monoxide alarm and our CO levels were rising dangerously close to fatal? What if the guy never game home and the shrill piercing sound NEVER SHUT OFF?

I knew we couldn’t be the first people in the world to be in this situation, so I did the sensible thing and Googled it. Lo and behold there was a Yahoo! Q&A thread addressing almost the exact question. The top-rated poster had suggested calling 311, the non-emergency hotline. WTF is a “non-emergency?” I guess 911 got tired of fielding inquiries from young white girls calling in about suspicious sounds coming from their apartment. Or the ones coming from their neighbors’ apartment.

The dispatcher said they would send some firefighters over.

Me: You mean, like, in a fire truck?

Dispatcher (laughing): Yes, that’s typically how firefighters get around.


When the fire department showed up, they spared no expense. The truck was double-parked outside our apartment, lights flashing, and no less than three guys got out, all decked in their firefighting uniforms. There was even one who was head-to-toe in some official navy ensemble and carrying the walkie-talkie; he must have been the chief.

They went through our basement to see if they could gain entrance to the downstairs apartment from there. No dice. They came back up and told us that everything seemed to “check out just fine.” In other words, they didn’t feel like spending the time and manpower to break down the door. Well, if they in good conscience would leave two young girls in such a situation, I guess that’s good enough for me (and really, what was I supposed to do? Demand that they break the door down? I know I’m not paying for that shit).

This morning when I woke up, the alarm was STILL going off. Why can’t the battery life of my phone be that good?