It goes off a fair bit, usually in response to smoke created from burned on food in my oven, as a result of spills or excesses that weren't cleaned off. The hallway of my colonial home right outside my kitchen creates some sort of tunnel making small amounts of heat or smoke a cause for alarm (pun not intended, but still clever, no?).
When it happens, I fight my urges to rip it out of the ceiling, and have learned to just wait it out. My husband hasn't learned the art of patiently waiting it out, which is why it hangs inches from the ceiling by the wires. Apparently he became so enraged by the piercing beeping that he tried to dismantle it, but instead broke the things that are meant to attach it to the ceiling, so there's no going back. It functions, but it hangs in reminder of the battle. I'm not sure who the victor of that battle was. Did the man beat the machine by ripping it from its moorings, or does the machine mock the man as it hangs by its wires -- battered but still functioning?
What's worse is when the battery is dying, and we get the intermittent beep. . . beep. . . beep. . . beep. . . beep. Why does this always happen in the middle of the night, just as I'm going to bed, or early in the morning right before I need to wake up?
Perhaps the worst "this is a test; this is only a test" beeping came one night last winter when we were experiencing power surges that caused the alarms to sound continuously for at least ten minutes. Ten minutes is a long time when you are aroused in the middle of the night and it's very dark, and the flashlight isn't where it's supposed to be, and you aren't sure what's going on.
This happened after midnight, and we were a bit confused as to whether or not this was a real alarm or some sort of electronic glitch. We took a risk that it was the latter (but I have to admit that I did call the fire department). I did learn a couple of things from that experience: my children need me, and they are even better sleepers than I give them credit for being. They both slept right through it, so had it been an "actual emergency" it would have been up to us to rouse them. As it was, two addled parents was disarming enough and I am thankful that my children enjoyed undisturbed slumber as we frantically stumbled around and made decisions about their safety.
But today the little white circular objects worked as they are supposed to, making me feel the love. We were doing the morning routine thing when we heard the intrusive sounds. Amanda came out of her bathroom, and I came out of mine.
"Oh, Kyle was making a Pop Tart," she said.
Our hit-and-miss toaster had apparently decided that several minutes was the proper amount of time to toast a Pop Tart. The Pop Tart disagreed and was angry, black, and smoky. As I was upstairs innocently applying mascara, my toaster oven was apparently inches away from a total meltdown. The four-year-old offender was innocently watching TV (apparently unaffected by the smoke and horrible smell).
So thank you, smoke detector. The one time that you've performed a useful service makes up for the tens of times that you've irritated me, but let's not schedule any more dates for trial runs or real alerts, 'kay?