“It is 12:30 at night! I am not getting McDonald’s,” I snapped at the teen girl.

We were sitting in a parked car in the middle of our front lawn as a team of volunteer firemen from the town searched our house. My kid’s soccer coach was among them.

“Yeah, you’re right. They close in a half hour. Let me check Taco Bell instead,” she continued.

Seeing a firefighter carrying an ax and one of those impressive pry-off-your-roof-shingles tools, my heart sank. I scooted from the car and ran up alongside him.

“Hi… ummm… I am happy to open, unlock, unhinge anything you need. Just please don’t use any of that,” I said.

Yeah, it had been a weird night.

It started around midnight when the smoke detectors went off. I levitated from bed into the standing position like a vampire, as is my custom for all sudden late-night wakings, and ran down the hallway. I was sure it was a false alarm, but I wanted to reach each of my precious cherubs who would be woken, scared and confused. Well, that was the plan.

“Is anyone in this house going to actually WAKE UP AND GET OUT OF BED?!”

Minutes had passed now, and I had searched every room as six smoke detectors screamed overhead.

And not a single person had stirred.

Lulled to complacency by years of mom burning the bacon, all waited patiently under the covers for me to make it right. Even hubby.


The family took my gentle urgings, combined with demonic eye rolling and head spin, to heart and got up.

We searched the house. Basement. Attic. And that’s when we smelled burning plastic in the teen girl’s room. “I think we need to call 911,” said hubby.

I paused. Was this really rising to THAT level?

“Wait, the fire department is coming here?... into my room?” said the teen girl, who immediately began picking dirty underwear up off her floor.

We moved to house evacuation mode.

“Before I do anything I need to pee! I can’t think straight. Everyone! Go to the bathroom! Now!” I said, playing my usual role of family bladder monitor.

We hustled everyone out the door.

The kids and I waited in the car while the fireman looked at the sort of things fireman do. Hubby gave us updates—no CO2, no flames, attic clear, no axing of walls.

“Great news!” said my teen daughter. “Taco Bell is open till 2 a.m.!”

“We are not getting FAST FOOD RIGHT NOW!”

Then hubby returned to the car. The source of the problem had been discovered.

That burning plastic smell — a faulty smoke detector.

Martha Petteys writes a weekly column for The Post-Star. Write to her at petteyshome@gmail.com or visit her on Facebook.

Martha Petteys writes a weekly column for The Post-Star. She can be contacted at petteyshome@gmail.com or visit or on Facebook.


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