Facing Fear in the Night

My daughters are unhappy about my single status and are often after me to find a new boyfriend. I tell them it’s a very rare moment that I think I need one, but I will confess that on Sunday, April 29th, at 1 o’clock in the morning, I was at that very rare moment. I needed help!

Doot doot doot doot doot!

I went from a sound sleep to being bolt upright in bed! What the heck was that?!

A minute later, just as I started to calm down, doot doot doot doot doot!

I figured out pretty quickly that it was the carbon monoxide monitor in my bedroom and unplugged it, only to have my blood pressure spike again when it went off a minute later – doot doot doot doot doot! Thus, I learned about its backup batteries, which I removed though that was not as easy as it sounds. At any rate, I stopped the noise, but I had to wonder, what does that doot doot doot doot doot mean?

The handyman who installed the monitor also put one in the unfinished portion of my basement. Not having to worry about aesthetics there, he tucked the instruction manual behind the device so it was readily at hand. The explanation to doot doot doot doot doot was just one floor away, the only problem being that I am afraid of basements at night.

Lights ablaze, I went halfway down the stairs and had a listen. Was that second monitor – in close proximity to the gas water heater and gas heater – likewise blaring every minute? No, it was not! Whew! Good sign! Or maybe not…perhaps it was not sounding due to a malfunction of the unit?

I really needed to go down into the basement, get the instruction sheet, and read it! Or maybe not…perhaps I could just turn off the heat and open the windows. Or maybe I could sleep in the car in the garage. Would carbon monoxide seep out there from the house? I checked the Accuweather app on my phone to see about the feasibility of these plans. Can you believe it, Accuweather had an orange banner across the top with an exclamation point – Frost Advisory! It was 38 degrees out there. On April 29th. In the Midwest. Unbelievable!

So I went all the way down the steps into the darn basement and retrieved the darn instruction manual. It is a 15” X 19” sheet of paper, all small print. Argh! Ultimately, I found the section that said, “What you hear under different conditions.” Here’s the scoop:

  • If the battery is low, the horn chirps once.
  • If the CO Detector is malfunctioning, the horn chirps three times every minute.
  • If the CO Detector had reached its “end of life,” the horn chirps five times every minute.
  • If the CO Detector detects CO, the horn sounds LOUDLY – 4 beeps, pause, 4 beeps, pause, and keeps this pattern up for as long as the unit is in alarm.

It was settling and unsettling to have this information. Doot, doot, doot, doot, doot. Five chirps. This was the detector’s “end of life signal.” It needed to be replaced. But did they really have to use this terminology when their alarm made me fear that maybe I was at the end of mine?

Disaster averted, I went back upstairs to my bedroom, turned off the light, and started to get back into bed but thought better of it. Instead, I found myself changing from my old nightgown into my new nightgown just in case I had figured things out incorrectly. That old nightgown? I wouldn’t want to be caught dead in it.

The ridiculousness of this notion got me laughing as did the thought that my last boyfriend, Big Irv, would have pulled the plug – and batteries – on the detector, said a few colorful words, and gone back to bed without checking any further, so sure would he have been that all was well. Uncertain about our safety, this would have left me angry with him instead of the detector and equally unable to sleep.

Is there a moral to this story? I see three:

  • It’s ok not to sleep after hearing the end of life alarm. It’s a wake-up call for all.
  • There’s nothing scary in the basement, even at night.
  • I am self-sufficient and fine on my own.


  1. Stefan Eckert says:

    Good story and funny too! Sounds a bit like Andorra Way. I had a similar experience with the CO detector on my first floor by my bedroom but during the day hours. I couldn’t tell if it was my house alarm system or smoke detectors or the CO detector and my “poor hearing abilities” didn’t help. After checking all the smoke detectors in the house and calling to talk to the security/alarm company about the system, I realized my CO detector had reached the “end of life” point! Disconnected it, ordered a new one from Amazon and two days later I was back to normal! You are welcome to call me anytime for any emergencies.

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      Thanks for commenting, Stefan! You might want to quantify what hours of the day or night I am able to call with emergencies!!!!

  2. Vera Long says:

    Loved this one, Lorie! So entertaining and well written. But, does Stefan really mean you could call him and he would come over in the middle of the night? Hahahahaha, so much for the single life!

    And, btw, I think we all are just fine by ourselves. And, you can call me in the middle of the night!

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      Vera! Thanks for the offer. You are a good friend to offer help in the middle of the night!!!

  3. Cindy says:

    Next time something like this happens, just remember that not all men are brave, strong and smart. Some can be bigger “scaredy cats” than the women they are supposed to be protecting.

  4. Rose says:

    Lorie, I loved this story — made me think of so many similar occurrences when I was single! But, by the way, even now that I’m married, I’d probably be the one who had to solve this mystery were it to happen here. Reminds me of a greeting card I once sent to a divorced friend. It read, “Every now and then I wish I had a man. But then I take out the garbage and get the car serviced and the feeling passes.”

    You’re right. You’re fine on your own. And you have friends (and adult children) you can call on for help when your handyman isn’t available. You’re a smart and resourceful woman!

    I loved that you thought about which nightgown to wear. What a hoot! Maybe we should all toss those clothes that we wouldn’t want to be caught dead in! (Food for thought to fuel another column, perhaps?)

    Your best blog post so far! Keep ’em coming!

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      Thanks, Rose. I love the greeting card you quoted! Perhaps you wrote it in your Avanti days???

  5. joel campbell says:

    Lorie, you handled your CO situation in a direct and competent manner…..Obviously, the story has a happy outcome, as you were not overcome by deadly CO gas permeating through your home….

    I would never try to speak on behalf of the entire XY population; however, I suspect that any reasonable guy would have initially experienced your identical concerns on hearing the “doot…..doot….doot”…..and hopefully, would have followed your judicious and appropriate actions….Lord knows, I am not qualified to give you any advice on whether there should be a “man in your life;” Let’s just say that we all need people in our lives who care about us and our well-being….that’s what makes life worth living….Of course, you already know all this, so I will close now.


    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      Hi Joel, Thanks for your comments! I’m lucky to have kids and grandkids near me. They are a blessing to be sure. And of course, they help me to be courageous as I need to be able to protect all those little ones from the things that scare them!

  6. Kay Long says:

    Hey Lorie, I know the single feeling and how sometimes it would be simpler if there was a man around to do something specific so that I don’t have to, but we really don’t need one! I love that you thought about your nightgown! That’s something that I would’ve done as well.

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      Thanks, Kay! I am especially happy to have validation for the changing of the nightgown!

  7. Dale P Brown says:

    Great piece, Lorie. Sounds to me like you’re as competent as ever.

  8. shar eckert toybes says:

    Lorie, I am first exploring your website. The humor and reality proved there really is not anything to fear (day or night). We live through just about everything. Keep moving forward, I am impressed, good job. Hugs, Shar

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      Thanks, Shar, for reading and commenting! I hope you will continue to read my work. Many thanks…

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