I live in a multi-lingual household. In addition to English, some Spanish is spoken, an occasional mispronounced French phrase, Latin (thankfully no one knows if it is pronounced correctly), and some cartoon swearing (Dirty-rack-a-fratz!) can be heard. Outside, in the backyard, bird, squirrel and cat are the more predominant languages.
Saturday night, a new, previously unheard language emerged inside my house. About 9:30 p.m., a mysterious, short, fairly soft “beep” sounded. Since I have several devices that speak “beep” and the direction from which the beep emerged was not clear, I proceeded to discover the source. Following the lead of my current mystery book heroine, Kinsey Milhone, I set about using the process of elimination to find the source. (By the way, Sue Grafton’s latest book featuring Kinsey Milhone, X is a very good read!)
One hour later, I had narrowed it down to one area of the house. The fact that the once soft beep had become much louder, longer and the beeps were closer together was a big factor in the success of the process.
I found it! It was emerging from a black box, about the size of a car battery, that was lurking under my desk. It was labeled “Battery Backup and Surge Protector ES 750 APC.” I was puzzled, since both the Wi Fi and the phone services were hooked up to this box, and yet they both worked. Just in case, I unplugged the computer, printer and phone, then closed the door for the night. The beep did not sound.
The next morning I plugged in the phone and Wi Fi. They were still in service and the box sat quietly, its one green eye brightly lit. I called the phone company. The technician confirmed that, “Yup, the battery was probably dying.” All I had to do was bring in the box to the store on Monday and they would replace the battery. “Thanks,” I said. The box sat their quietly. All was well.
Two hours later, the beep resumed – only much louder and non-stop. It verged on ear-splitting. I again carefully unplugged the phone, computer, Wi Fi and printer, then crawled behind the desk and unplugged the black box. Of course, the beep did not stop, since it was generated by the dying battery and didn’t need to be plugged in to continue its song.
I put the box, still beeping, in the garage and closed the door. For a moment I felt guilty about leaving the box alone as it beeped its last beep. But it was a very short moment. Ears ringing, I went into the house. I checked later and the box was quiet. I placed it in the car, ready for its Monday morning trip to the store.
You don’t expect most things to break – small things, yes, but not the really large things; e.g. front steps, water heaters, pipes, or car battery sized back up systems that have been with you forever. They do break, of course. Everything and everybody has a life span, but we are perpetually surprised when those life spans approach their end.