The Carbon Monoxide Detector
The Carbon Monoxide Detector doesn’t have enough to do.
Our apartment is old and drafty, so when a single carbon atom bonds with a single oxygen oxygen atom, they move out pretty quick.
Never once has our Carbon Monoxide Detector really had a chance to do its job.
Which is fine by us, but has created an existential crisis for the device.
Every few days, our Carbon Monoxide Detector will emit a truly piercing alarm that never fails to fill my entire body with adrenaline and panic.
I’ll dash across the apartment and press the “Acknowledge” button.
“So…” the Carbon Monoxide Detector will then say. “What’s goin’ on?”
“Not much,” I’ll reply, with barely contained fury. “What’s goin’ on with you?
“Not much. Some CO molecules just went out the window.”
“Yup. Pretty quiet around here. Say, can you imagine if there really was a dangerous level of carbon monoxide here?”
“The CO would enter your blood stream, turn your hemoglobin in to carboxyhemoglobin and totally inhibit the flow of oxygen to your bodily tissues.”
“But I’d be all like, “BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!” before you guys even started to feel the symptoms, and you’d totally evacuate the apartment in time.”
“Sure hope so.”
“You know it, buddy. You know it.”
The conversations rarely go further than that. The Carbon Monoxide Detector doesn’t really know about anything else. I’ve tried to teach it checkers, but it keeps getting distracted by the insignificant number of CO molecules that form and then leave the apartment.
“Ah hah! I thought those two would get together. Covalent double bond, dative covalent bond - yup, I totally called that. Oh… there they go. They all move on. They know who’s boss. Say, you’re not experiencing any headaches or nausea right now, right? ”
I try not to get annoyed. After all, carbon monoxide poisoning is no joke. And neither is unfulfilled promise. Our CO Detector waits in vain for the day it will be tested. For the day it will know it’s alive. But if I’ve learned anything from the Detector’s experience, it’s that destiny is a crock of shit. For some of us, the greatest battle may simply be acceptance.
Meanwhile, the concentration of carbon monoxide in our apartment refuses to rise above 5 parts per million.