The palatial estate at Surlywood was purchased just about four years ago from a very lovely woman who wouldn’t budge an inch on the price. She’d bought it only a couple years before, and in one of her first official acts, decreed the installation of a security system. It remained behind when she left; I signed up for the same monitoring service, and they sent a minion out to give me a perfunctory explanation of the control panel and to change the codes to something other than what she’d had.
Friday afternoon, I was greeted by the usual robot noises, but this set was timed differently. I punched in the Shut Up Already sequence, and discovered, between the usual AC and READY indicators, the scary-looking word BAT. A quick look at whatever documentation I could scrounge up, and I was ready to call the service.
“If I’m reading this right,” I said, “the backup battery, the one that takes over when the power goes off, is in its death throes.”
“That’s what it is. Looks like it’s about, oh, six years old. About time for it to go.”
“What should I do?”
“We can send you out a replacement. Very easy to install. Twenty-five dollars, no charge for shipping and handling. Should be there in five to seven business days. In the meantime, the system will still work on AC.”
“Good enough,” I said, and put it out of my mind — until about 2:20 am, when the off-tempo robot noises returned. I silenced them and went back to bed.
Over the next few days, the infernal beepage returned at random intervals. I called the service. “They do that. About every four to six hours there’s a self-test to make sure everything’s working. When something’s not working, well, you just heard it.”
With the four fingers I wasn’t already using on that hand, I counted up five to seven business days. Thanksgiving obviously doesn’t count; does the day after?
So I popped open the cabinet, to the extent that “popped open” applies to a metal box that’s sealed with Phillips screws, and found the offending component. Looked just like a Sears DieHard sent through the debigulator: same lead-acid chemistry, same 12 volts, though obviously not up to the task of starting a car. I grat my teeth and betook myself to Batteries Plus, where they had a whole shelf of the little bastiges.
Twenty-four ninety-nine. The robots are silent. And when the dawdling courier finally drops that surprisingly-heavy package at my door, I’ll have a backup backup battery.
(No, I didn’t post about this earlier, for the simple reason that it struck me as a Bad Idea to let on that my security system had acquired a temporary weakness until such time as it could be repaired.)