Matt Knutson: What is all that beeping in the house?

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, September 28, 2017

Things I Tell My Wife, By Matt Knutson

“Everything is beeping at us,” I told my wife after arriving home to the microwave going off. In the span of 24 hours there’s been little quiet in our humble abode as our appliances appear to be staging a coup. For a brief moment I thought the FCC might somehow be censoring us with so many beeps going off.

It all started yesterday when Sera left the refrigerator door open and sat down on the couch. Years ago when we bought our house, we were surprised that the fridge had such a handy feature to repeatedly remind us when the door had been left open for two minutes or longer. The beep was a handy feature at first until I realized just how often Sera leaves the door open. Sometimes she’ll still be cooking in the kitchen and has every intention of putting the milk back right away but just doesn’t quite get there in time. Other times my wife will attempt to close it but the door just won’t make it all the way. As the weeks left of pregnancy continue to diminish, that occurrence has become much more common. The real trouble comes when Sera has sat down on the couch before the beep has occurred. This far along, it’s hard for her pregnant self to get up without assistance and close the refrigerator door in any sort of timely manner. Luckily, I’m here to help.

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More beeping began in the middle of the night. It was faint enough and irregular enough that I hoped it was a dream instead of a reality, but when the sun rose in the morning it became clear that our home had been beeping throughout the night. This time it was a fire alarm with a low battery. After grabbing the tall ladder and changing the battery I was satisfied that the beeping had stopped until Sera and I returned home for lunch and heard it again. Laziness set in as we gazed up at the ceiling, not knowing what to do when a fire alarm is beeping about a low battery when you know deep in your heart that it is in fact not low. We’ve been home this evening and only heard it beep one more time, so perhaps it just needed to get a few more beeps out before going silent for another long stretch of time. At the very least, I hope it stays quiet throughout the night.

Just about the only beep we’re in control of is the newest beep to our home. In anticipation of the new baby arriving, Sera had us get a new baby monitor for our daughter’s room. In addition to being able to hear Gracelyn in her room, we’re able to push a button and talk to her. She’s greeted with a pleasant beep to alert her that Mama or Dada are about to rely a very important message. We thought this would be a useful feature in the middle of the night that might prevent us from having to actually get out of bed to comfort her. In reality, it’s turned into a demand that when she’s doing any activity in her room, we are to beep our voice into that space so she can communicate with us that way instead of in person. I don’t know why she prefers listening to me sing “Old MacDonald had a Farm” through a speaker, but the heart wants what it wants. Maybe our baby monitor has some sort of auto-tune feature.

Of course the most recent beeping is the microwave that I mentioned earlier. Following a run around the neighborhood with Gracelyn, I came into the kitchen as Sera was finishing up dinner preparations. My lovely wife responded to the microwave beep by asking me what was in the microwave. I was a little puzzled, unsure as to why she expected me to know what she was warming up. It took a few seconds before we both internally acknowledge that my wife’s pregnancy brain was at work again — she had microwaved nothing. Not only had she turned on an empty microwave, but she did so when nothing we were having for dinner would need to be microwaved. It was at that point I knew the beeping had gotten to both of us.

A beep can serve many purposes. It can warn us or alert us to something we should be attentive to. It can share good news and gather our attention. It can remind us to do something we might otherwise forget. It can also annoy us to no end. Here’s to the next beep I’ll hear — hopefully my alarm, alerting me that another day has arrived to make the world a better place (perhaps with a few less beeps).

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.