What Was That?

I was in my kitchen this morning making my lunch for the day when I heard this muffled noise.  Well, it wasn’t a noise per se, more like a two note/two-toned digital sound.  Because of the muffled nature of it, I thought it was coming from my basement.  Not being fully awake quite yet and not recognizing the sound I froze where I was on high alert.  When I didn’t hear it again, I kind of wrote it off and continued with my food preparation.  That’s when I heard it again.  Oh great, a strange noise coming from the basement.  I’ve never been a big fan of basements – they’re usually VERY dark, there might be bugs or critters running around (not in my basement, of course) and they’re often the place where bad things happen.  At least that’s the case in movies.  Why, just yesterday in church a guest minister was preaching on Cain and Abel, focusing on Cain’s downward spiral.  She likened our reaction to reading Cain’s misdeeds to watching a suspenseful movie where one of the characters goes off to a dark room or basement and meets his/her demise while we’re screaming, “DON’T GO DOWN THERE!”

So, here’s me, Mr. Vivid Imagination, hearing a strange sound coming from my basement.  Wouldn’t that be just like an intruder to lure me downstairs using a strange sound?  That’s EXACTLY what I was thinking when I turned on the light and slowly went down the stairs.  Now, you have to know that there is no door closing off the basement from the kitchen – there’s just an open doorway.  The staircase is also open to the main room of the basement.  So, if anyone was down there, they’d see me first.

I walked through the main room which is a finished “family” room (I exercise down there nearly every morning – but had skipped this morning) and into the laundry room thinking the sound was coming from the new water heater.  There I stood in the middle of the room, various lights burning away and … nothing.  No strange sound and nobody attacking me from behind.  Somewhat chagrined, I returned to the kitchen, sitting down with a bowl of cereal at the table.  I had a spoon full of cereal on its way to my open mouth when I heard the sound again.  D’oh!  This time it seemed … closer, though still somewhat muffled.  What else is down in the basement that would send out a periodic noise like that?  It would have to be something … electronic.  The smoke detector!

Going back down the stairs, I stopped at the landing and removed the detector from the ceiling.  The red light was still flashing, indicating it was working and it emitted a piercing shriek when I pressed the test button.  I read the raised text on the exterior learning that it emitted a “chirp” every 45 seconds when the battery was dying.  Hm, the sound I was hearing came like every few minutes and it wasn’t a “chirp” exactly.  Still, maybe the battery was on its way out and the chirp would speed up as it got worse?

I put the detector back in place, ate my breakfast and went upstairs to finish getting ready.  As I brushed my teeth I heard the sound again, quite clear.  Wow, I knew the vent in the bathroom had a direct shot down to the basement right by the detector, but to hear it that clearly, that’s something.  By now the sound seemed like an annoyance and I nearly answered it with the same tone, “OKAY, I’ll get a new detector on my way home today!  Pipe down already!”  I then moved on to my bedroom to pull on socks and shoes.  That’s when I heard the sound again.  Only, this time, it was really close.  It was in the room.  Not only that, it was coming from the pocket … in my pants!  The source of the noise was my cell phone.  The battery power was low because I had mistakenly left it on for days.  The noise was informing me of my need to recharge the battery.  Oh.