Where’s the Fire?

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4 min read

Since I moved to San Francisco two weeks ago, my life has been like a comedy of errors. No big catastrophes, but little “first world” annoyances.

It all started when:

  • The post office ignored the fact that I sent my apartment deposit via Express Mail and decided to ship it any ol’ time they felt like. That ended up being a week later than I paid for. I was fit to be tied, worried that my hard-won apartment would be given to someone else who actually paid when they said they would. They didn’t.
  • The movers accidentally absconded with the power cord for my flat screen. I got it back.
  • My mailbox key didn’t work. The box was jammed full of legacy mail. Do these people not believe in forwarding their mail? The building manager got it fixed.
  • My building won’t allow DirecTV to install a dish on the building. I’ve had DTV for 6 years, but entered a new 2-year contract when I bought my flat screen. With a year left on my contract they sent someone out to find alternative mount options. The DTV guy came by, looked at my setup and with disgust told me, “SF sucks for DirecTV. I come to do these installs and there’s no line of sight. I make no money. You should have stayed in LA.” Are you serious, homie? Why are you telling me this and really, stay in LA because of DirecTV? Spare me your dramatics. I have my own problems. Do you see all these boxes?
  • I am stuck with Comcast, shitty, constant price-jumping, Comcast. I spent two hours in an online chat trying to set up cable service while the CS rep went through the ridiculous rigmarole of the script I’m sure she was reading. All because I couldn’t sign up for service online as the only options they gave me would force me to have a phone plan. Don’t try to force me into your plans, Comcast, I’m onto you! I am young and have no children. Why the hell would I want a landline? This isn’t 1992.

Unexpectedly, my stove also didn’t work. Someone neglected to tell me that there’d been a gas leak in my unit. They weren’t able to fix it before I moved in. I had no stove and because my things hadn’t arrived yet, no microwave. Sigh.

I received a call from the property management company profusely apologizing for the inconvenience. That’s nice, but I can’t be eating out every meal. I’m sure you are well aware of what I’m paying for rent here. She offered to send me a microwave that very same day. Now that is service. Meanwhile, they still had to fix the problem. So, on two occasions  I left my house key (which I kept losing in the mess of boxes that is my apartment) in a lockbox to allow strangers to wander through my apartment to fix the leak and then turn on the gas. I came home on one of those days to find my toilet seat all the way up. Motherfu…. Was that seat up when I left? I know it wasn’t ’cause I don’t have a penis and I don’t let my cats drink from the toilet. Ohhh, pet peeve city. You’re in a woman’s apartment, there are two cats roaming around, do not leave the toilet seat up if you use the bathroom that you didn’t get permission to use. Ain’t no gas line in the bathroom.

After a week and a half of no stove and eating sandwiches and microwavable foods, I had a stove again. Oh sweet gas! Last night I used my stove for the first time. I decided to stirfry some spinach. Within two minutes of heating the sesame oil, the smoke alarm went off in my kitchen. The sound was piercing and loud enough to be heard in Napa Valley. One of my cats (the one I like) looked at me, looked at the smoke alarm, looked back at me with fright and scrammed like Tom to find a place to hide. The smoke alarm began to speak, with the voice of a female droid: “FIRE. FIRE!” I hurdled over the mess of unpacked items in a rush to reach my step ladder (a single short woman’s best friend), knocking over piles of things on the way. That’s when my bedroom smoke alarm decided to join in on the fun. “FIRE! FIRE!” Bitch, there is no fire, STFU! I finally reached the first smoke alarm and pressed the button in the center of the alarm to turn it off. It beeped at me and I’m pretty sure increased its volume. “Warning, carbon monoxide!” Great, now I’m poisoning myself. I tried to turn off the alarm in the bedroom; same smart ass beeping reply.

Smoke Alarm

One of the evil offenders

My ears were ringing and I feared one of my neighbors would come at me with an axe. “That damn new girl with the cats!” Most of them have dogs. I like dogs. No, I LOVE dogs. When I told one of my dog-owning neighbors I had two cats she gave me a look that said, “Great, one of THOSE people.” I quickly told her that I like dogs, but do not have the time to own one right now. That seemed to settle her. I ran into another neighbor shortly after I moved in and told her about my pets (she asked, I’m not prone to bringing up my cats unprovoked. I am not that woman.). Word must have spread because later that week I overheard two neighbors talking about me on the stairwell in our not-at-all-soundproofed building:

“Have you met the people who just moved in?”
“Yeah, it’s a girl. She just moved from LA.”
“Does she seem cool?”
“Yeah, she seems cool. It’s just her and her two cats.”
“…..”

I could feel the waves of judgment emanating. For the love of god, cats are nice animals, people! Well, except, the one of mine that I want to trade in.

Anyway, back to the fire…or the notafuckingfire.

I heard a knock on my door. Here comes the axe, I thought. Either that or someone is coming to check that I’m not actually being swallowed by flames. I waded through even more crap to get to the door, having previously knocked things over into the entryway.

It was a guy with a stepladder. “Do you need to borrow a stepladder to turn off your alarm?” “I have one, thanks!” “Oh, okay, ’cause this happened to us when we moved in. You just have to press the button to turn it off.” I was tempted to give him gasface, but I knew he was trying to be helpful. “Yeah, I tried that. They won’t turn off. Do you know how to disconnect them?” “No, sorry. Did you try opening a window?” Seriously, what kind of moron did he take me for? “Yeah, that’s what’s weird, I had my windows wide open already. I’m really sorry. I’m trying to stop it.” The alarms had been blaring for at least five minutes. I was reminded of the sirens played when people were warned bombs were dropping during wartime. Yeah, overkill.

Smoke Alarm 2

The aftermath

The damn things wouldn’t turn off and they wouldn’t come off easily. I was able to disconnect the bedroom device and ignored my urge to smash it as the dumb thing kept repeating, “FIRE! FIRE! Beep!” Oh you bitch. The kitchen one, however, wanted to fight. In a Hulk rage, I ripped it from the ceiling causing the fuse to short, spark and out went the lights. I could smell the burning. Well, eff you too, sweetheart  And please don’t tell me I now I have to live in the dark. And I still haven’t gotten my damned spinach. I am hungry! I turned off all the switches on the fuse box, turned them back on and then there was light. With the smoke alarms disconnected I went back to my business of cooking spinach. The smoke alarms were dead. I won…until there is an actual emergency and I don’t know about it because I have no smoke alarms to warn me. Also, I think I am now deaf.

6 Comments
  • Laura
    November 20, 2012

    That reminds me of the Friends episode with Phoebe and the smoke detector that wouldn’t stop beeping.

    • thegirlnextdoorisblack
      November 20, 2012

      I had totally forgotten about that scene. I YouTubed it. Watching it was like having post-traumatic flashbacks, lol. Only my alarm’s noise was far more insanity-inducing. Thankfully, the damn things stopped beeping once I took the batteries out.

  • cs201142
    November 3, 2012

    I hate San Francisco. My continual and constant comedy of errors has gone on for six months. My DC friends think this place is whacked. However, I’ve said this to people who live here and been told by a number of them that they hated it too but that eventually it grows on you. Like in about two years.

    • thegirlnextdoorisblack
      November 4, 2012

      lol. Thankfully, I can say I already like it. Then again, I’m coming from a place that I grew to dislike, so I may have a lower threshold. I hope it gets better for you sooner!

  • Heidi
    November 3, 2012

    Ha!!! Don’t you hate moving??? I can’t believe how many things always go wrong when moving into a new place. Getting broadband/TV/ utilises setup is always a pain. And then there are the little ‘characteristics’ of your new place (eg, the fire alarms). grrrr….
    Glad to hear nothing major is driving you nuts yet!

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