"Wish You Happy Every Day": An Expat's Life in China


Things that go “beep” in the night
February 21, 2011, 1:19 am
Filed under: daily life in china, TIC | Tags:

While the bombs firecrackers exploded outside our windows during Spring Festival, we had a noisy incident of own.  Last week, I returned home from work one evening.  At first things were quite normal–I said hello to my roommate Pam and her boyfriend (some of you may know that I recently moved in with a friend) and started to warm up something for dinner.
Then our neighbor walks in through the bathroom.

Our apartment is actually two apartments: Pam and I share a fairly sizable portion (two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a dining area), but there is another part that is closed off from us, which belongs to the landlord’s brother.  We all use the bathroom; otherwise, it’s like a completely separate apartment.

So we weren’t completely staggered when a middle-aged Chinese man came out of our bathroom.  We were, however, annoyed that he came to fiddle with our breakers in an attempt to restore electricity in his apartment–and in the process took out most of our apartment’s power.

That isn’t exactly a tragedy; we still had one good outlet, and outside it was cold enough that we could move some of the food to our patio over night.  The real tragedy was the smoke detector.  It beeped.  And beeped.  About every ten seconds.  Four people got up on a chair and tried to deactivate it, but to no avail.  Apparently, in many Chinese apartment complexes, the smoke detector is powered electrically rather than by battery, and it starts to beep when it doesn’t have enough power to work properly.

Our neighbor’s brilliant suggestion was to close the kitchen doors.  Yeah, thanks.

We ended up having to do this:

Yes, that is a pillow taped to our ceiling.

It did muffle the sound a bit; at first, we were patient.  We could bear it.  But after two days of waiting for someone to fix it, we were starting to go a bit crazy.  On Valentine’s Day, Pam went out with her boyfriend, and I ended up going to a bar by myself just to get away from the noise.  It was just fine, though–I ran into some friends and had a good time.

Finally, a few people came to deactivate the smoke detector (we have to buy a new one), but only yesterday were we restored to full power.  The guy next door says to keep a receipt for the bill and give it to the landlord.  But the landlord is in Korea and has been there for a while!  Somehow, I don’t think we will ever get that money from our neighbor.  If only we could lock him out of the bathroom…

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3 Comments so far
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Very clever!

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Comment by Alex Baugh

Some months ago I had to pull a carbon monoxide detector out of my cieling! I could not slide it open! I could not replace the battery & so I thrust it into my glove compartment. It’s still there & it’s still beeping! The volume on the radio is always loud enough to drown it out! It’s become a curiosity now…how long will it beep? I can’t bring myself to throw it out!

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Comment by Kitt

I am here to corroborate every word!! I was there!!!

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Comment by pam




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