Home is where the Fire Detecter is

You know, you’re not quite settled into a place until you’ve tried to burn it down. Or just innocently started dinner, but ended up frantically and stupidly trying to manage an overly-sensitive fire alarm system in a language you don’t comprehend.

I love to cook–you know this about me. I’m at home at the hearth. But I’ve struggled with the stove here because it’s equipped with an annoying heat sensor that beeps when things get too warm. It’s hard to COOK FOOD, without things getting a little WARM. Even so, I’m glad for this little warning system because you just push a button and reassure it that nothing is burning or on fire and stops beeping at you for a a few minutes. It’s like a warning system for the real alarm that alerts the firemen.

Today, for some reason, my kitchen went postal. I was making dinner–nothing was burning or smoking, and WITHOUT ANY WARNING FROM MY LITTLE BEEPER FRIEND, the fire alarm starts going off. So I start running around trying to figure out why the heck it’s going off. I take the food off the stove and try to fan the alarm, but I quickly realize that this isn’t like an alarm at home and the Fire Department is probably dispatching at that very moment. Helmets and coats and poles and whatnot while I’m running in circles in my apartment with a book in one hand and a spatula in the other.

When I moved in, I was instructed on how to shut off the alarm should it go off unnecessarily. BECAUSE EVIDENTLY THE ALARM IS VERY VERY SENSITIVE, AS I LEARNED FIRST-HAND TODAY. But now I’m in panic mode, and I can’t remember anything. I can’t think straight and my brain is filled with the incessant alarm racket and a jumble of Norwegian words I don’t understand. I’m staring at this box and I have no idea what to do, because I don’t speak any Norwegian and my mind is completely blank. The moments are ticking by and all I’m thinking about is the exorbitant fine I could get slapped with if the Fire Department comes for an unnecessary visit.

The bane of my existence. This and the detector in my apartment. Two banes. 

At this point, Emily has calmly come down stairs to watch me panic and demurely make suggestions about how to rectify the situation. I start to call the RA, when Emily tells me that there are instructions on my door about what to do if the fire alarm goes off. Instructions that I flew past when I ran into the hallway to smash buttons on this box. It says call the Fire Department and tell them there’s no fire. Easy enough. The number is 110, if anybody is ever in Norway and has a fire emergency, btw. Everything in my being says don’t call “911” unless there’s an emergency but then again, I was feeling very emergent at that moment. I promptly called.

The dispatcher remained kind and calm in the wake of my effusive apologies and maybe even suspicious insistence that there was no fire and please don’t send a fire truck. He said they were already on their way and asked if I knew how to shut off the alarm. I said no but I could figure it out! I hadn’t even pushed all the buttons yet!

I hung up, but a moment later, I heard something big pull up outside my door. The Fire Department had arrived. A distinguished fellow came to the door–I think Silver Fox is the phrase–though he was embarrassingly over-dressed for the occasion considering nothing was actually on fire. This nice man absorbed another wave of panicked apologies, and asked to see my kitchen. No smoke. No fire. Just a pan of sad half-cooked vegetables on a hot pad and my laptop open with an episode of Friends still playing (The One with the Prom Video).

He asked me to open the windows (but I tell you, there was no smoke!), and I told him so. He looked me right in the face and pointed to the smoke detector and said, “That’s a smoke detector. There has to be smoke for it to go off.” So…I just shut my mouth. I’m sure he thought I left the room while cooking or I was being a weasel about the situation, but I promise! Nothing was burning! I even had the fan on! I was being a responsible cook!

In any case, he was still nice to me. He even made a jovial comment about Friends. Must be a fan of the show. He showed me how to silence the alarm and this and that. I nodded and quietly apologized a few more times. Then he told me to, “Go finish my dinner and be with my Friends,” which was epically embarrassing and made me feel like a total loser. I guess my only friends are Friends.

I wanted to get a picture of the truck, but I didn’t want to be that person. So, here’s a bad picture of part of the truck taking up my whole window. 

Dinner turned out fine. Kale, mushrooms, and carrots, with red lentils and roasted chicken. Totally not burnt. Totally delish. My ego is pretty burn though. I still feel like a complete idiot.


I ate my dinner and watched the rest of Friends, and Emily kicked herself for not sticking around for the Silver Fox fireman man. But REALLY–if firemen are about to show up, you gotta stick around for the show. I guess I learned my lesson. I’ll be cooking everything on “2” from now on, with the windows wide open.


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