Am I Abusive to My Smoke Detector, or Is It Abusive Toward Me?

3 Nov

So our apartment has a kitchen. Shocked? Probably not. It even has a sink (even bigger shocker!). Here’s the deal though: Whoever designed our place put the smoke detector practically right over the oven. So, ever time I cook – the shitty thing will go off.

And I don’t even have to cook. I can just preheat the oven, and it will beep.

Here’s a typical scenario when I’m about to cook.

ME: “Mmmm….burgers! Well, these will be good for dinner.”

A few moments later…

ME: “But if I cook the burgers, it will set off the smoke detector….”

Oh, and something I forgot to mention – we DON’T have an exhaust fan. So, this kind of builds into the story a little bit more.

ME: “If I cook the burgers, not only will the smoke detector go off, but it will get very smoky in here, because we don’t have any ventilation. Hmm….what to do? I. Don’t. Know.”

Considering that there’s actual food in our place, I can’t just let it go to waste, so I opt for risking it and grilling the burgers on the stove. Well, actually broiling them. No, we don’t have a grill or anything outside. Why? Because we don’t have a patio or balcony. If we tried that, we’d fall out of our window. (Which, we’d be stupid to do considering there’s no grill outside our window.)

ME: “Maaaan…this is going to get ugly. Ugly. Like, Whoopi ugly.”

Here’s something else. Our smoke detector doesn’t have a way to temporarily turn it off. And to make it more aggravating, if you remove the batteries, it will beep at you ever 15 seconds. Yea, it’s hardwired like that. Jerk.

ME: “Mmm….burgers!”

Above: A burger that was probably made without too much aggravation – except for the cow

So, I put them on the broiler. It’s not so bad at first. Just a little heat, but no smoke alarm is going off. Why not? Here’s a little trick I did discover: Put a plastic bag over the smoke alarm, and it doesn’t go off as easily. That’s right…suffocate the thing.

Above: No, it’s not a ghost, silly. It’s what my smoke detector looks like with a bag over it. Kinda.

But the smoke detector is possessed. I believe a little part of Satan himself lives in there. Doesn’t like smoke? I think it might be the opposite. It seems to thrive on it. I mean, what other appliance gets that excited over heat and smoke. Devil. Some might say its doing it’s job, but I think it’s gone rogue. I think during a REAL fire, it would probably just shut up.

Above: A normal smoke detector. Not possessed. Probably bought at Wal-Mart.

ME: “Burgers are looking yummy! Lets see…I’ll need some ketchup, mustard and mayo to go wi – Oh, crap! Look at all the smoke!”

The apartment slowly starts to immense itself with some clouds. And you know, it’s not that good smelling cloud for some reason. You know, the kind you smell at Burger King (except in their restrooms).

ME: “Is this worth it?”

I slowly start to wonder why we even bought burgers. We knew we’d have to cook them. And our only way is stove. We don’t even have a microwave. Schucks.

And looking at the burgers, they have a ways to go. In other words, I can’t just take them off the broiler. If I do that, they’ll be as pink as – well – pink stuff. Gross. I like them well done.

ME: “Auughh! The smoke! (cough) This stuff is getting bad. I can’t even see (cough) the television anymore. I know it’s, like, ten (cough, cough) feet away.”

And then.


It just loves to have that gentle pause.

Frantically, and with aggression, I try to hit the temporary “off” button on the thing. But, it’s hard to see with a plastic bag over it.

ME: “I hate you, fire alarm. (cough) Or smoke detector. Whatever you want (cough) to call yourself, Satan.”

I can’t find the button, so I start to hit it. Making it more upset.


It’s getting angry. But, I don’t care. So am I. I have to live with the noise, smoke and….wait a minute. I think my burgers are almost done!

If I was wearing a wife beater, this moment would look like a domestic dispute between owner and appliance. I was smacking it. Hard. Even hitting harder.

Above: Nate abusing the smoke detector.

The fire alarm stops for a few seconds. It will do that until it realizes it’s not done yet. There’s plenty of smoke left to make me well aware of, even though it’s obvious to me since I can’t see my television – and now my couch has disappeared.

ME: “Well, at least I’ll have (cough) a tasty burger.”

I get the burgers out of the broiler. And now it’s time for a relaxing meal.

No it’s not! We all know that. The fire detector, smoke alarm thingy still is rattling off a few more beeps. I’m constantly walking back up to it trying to push it’s “relax, it’s okay, buddy” button that quiets it.

ME: “I give up (cough). I’m sitting in a smoke (cough) filled room, eating a tasty burger, but the enjoyment of the taste is trumped by the (cough) annoying beeps and smoke.”


ME: “Oh, a quick one! Nice.”


ME: “Next time, I’m going to Wendy’s.”

At the end of the night, the apartment is still smoky. Ventilation is a no-no here. It’s worse than a cigar lounge. But, I did eat some tasty burgers. Totally NOT worth it, but I did eat them regardless.

Above: Nate’s living room (without the exclusive beverage selection and rowdy crowd)

I looked at the smoke alarm the next morning, just trying to figure out a way that we could both get along. I mean, there HAD to be a temporary off switch – but there wasn’t. I had other people look at it throughout the week – and nobody could help. I looked at the manufactures website – nothing. I checked Google. Nothing. Why?

Smoke detectors are here to save lives. I’m sure they save many lives, and they’re an important appliance (I guess that’s what they’re considered) to have around. But, there are times, when….I hate ours. I can’t cook in my own kitchen anymore. I gave up.

And the landlords? There’s nothing that can be done. Mandatory.

The deal is though – I want to keep the smoke detector. Even if it is possessed. But, I want one that works with me – not against me. One that can be a cooking buddy and just shut up when told.

Not happening.

A few mornings ago – okay, this is going to sound weird – but I chatted a bit with it.

ME: “I’m preheating the oven now.”

SMOKE DETECTOR: (No response)

ME: “Shut up now, okay? So, you know, I don’t hit you.”

SMOKE DETECTOR: (No response)

ME: “Why am I talking to a fire alarm? Hmmm…who knows. Okay, now, what was I going to have for lunch?”

10 minutes later:


ME: “SHIT!!!”

No more burgers have been served since. Oven is still being preheated and used, but typically for things I just have to heat up. It’s not worth it. My place still has a lingering odor. Like a smoker used to live here or something – except it’s that musky oven smell. Hard to describe. I’d say it’s a mix between smelling a wet sock that was sitting in a charcoal grill for a couple of days.

I feel like a beaten man. Beaten by an appliance that I have no control over. I like vacuums so much better. We get along great (probably because we don’t have one).

So, what’s the moral? Don’t build smoke detectors over a kitchen. OH – and make sure exhaust fans are around. Exhaust fans are your friends. Remember that.

Copyright 2011 N.Fakes


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