You know how something isn’t quite right, but you can’t put your finger on it?

The other day, as I sat in my home office, I heard a strange sound. Immersed in my writing, I ignored it. About every minute I would hear the sound again, but it hadn’t yet hit my conscious mind. Eventually I decided to take a break and the sound broke through.

It was beeping.

I stood in our hallway next to the smoke alarm to see if it was the culprit. No. Then I moved to our bedroom. No sound there. I went downstairs and stood in our guest bedroom. Sure enough, this is where the sound was coming from.

It was the carbon monoxide detector.

I picked it up and wondered what to do. On the front I saw a reading. L6. What could that mean? Anxiety welled up in my stomach and I felt a little queasy. 6 can’t be good on a scale of 1 – 10. Was carbon monoxide threatening to kill me? I went upstairs, opened the front door, and decided to call 911.

‘I’m a little embarrassed,’ I explained as the operator picked up, ‘but my carbon monoxide detector is beeping and I’m not sure what to do.’

‘Don’t be embarrassed mam. This is exactly what you’re supposed to do. Does the device have a reading or just a red light?’ she asked.

‘It has a reading’, I answered promptly. ‘It says L6’.

‘I’m going to recommend you and anyone else in the house go outside’ she cautioned. ‘I will send the fire department out since they have equipment to find out where it’s coming from.’

Whew, I thought. I’m glad I called! Quickly I put on my winter coat, got into my car, and pulled out onto the driveway.

Within just a few minutes, the fire department showed up. I got out of my car to greet them even though it was below zero. The friendly fire fighter said, ‘Hello. We can go inside.’

He must know we have time before the deadly gases take over, I thought. Another fire fighter followed him.

As we stepped into my laundry room, he said, ‘I think it’s a low battery.’

‘What?’ I replied. ‘How do you know that? I’m so embarrassed!’

‘We get a lot of these calls’ he replied with a smile on his face. ‘I wanted to get out of the station anyways.’

‘But . . . ?’

‘The letter ‘b’ looks just like the number 6 on these detectors. Lb stands for low battery. We also get a lot of calls with the code L8 because the letter B looks like the number 8.’

‘Oh, my goodness!’ I replied. ‘Now I’m really embarrassed!’

Wanting to send these nice men back to the comfort of the fire station where they could have a chuckle about my blunder, I teased, ‘Would you get your big red fire truck out of here before my neighbors begin to ask questions?’

He responded with a straight face by saying, ‘you are the only person in Mankato who has ever made this mistake’.

Thank you 9-1-1.