Ahh, those funny times

by Jan Wheatcroft


I was in Sweden staying with my Swedish friends, Susanna and Christer. They were planning to move and were looking for a house in the country and were juggling their finances to see what they could afford to buy. 

One day, we had an outing to a small village called Trosa. I was feeling lucky that day and when we went into a little shop I decided to buy some lottery tickets, something I never do. But when the feeling says, “Today’s the day of luck,” I listen. So I bought 2 lottery cards for 10 SK (Swedish Kroner=$1.75) and one for 30 SK (=$5). We went to a cafe for a coffee, where I scratched off my tickets. I enjoyed playing the bingo games and, at the end, I saw that I had correctly matched on the 25,000 SK line. I made them read the card over and over and we figured that I had actually won. That was $4000. I couldn’t believe it at first but as it set in that I had actually won, I began to spend the money. 

As we drank our coffees and nibbled on our buns,  I gave Susanna and Christer $2000 to add to their house fund. Then we discussed what to do with the rest; spend it, save it or give it away to charity. We went over and over both options examining the ticket for tricks or flaws and juggling the money and what to do with it. I found myself totally carried away and excited. It was a “high” moment. Finally, we went back to the shop completely assured of being a winner.  This was the big moment and I could visualize the man handing me a load of cash.

“I won,” I said, and the man took the ticket. He said,  “Yes, 30 SK.” ($5) “What?” shouted Susanna, “not 30 SK, but 25,000 SK?” The shopkeeper said “No. It is only 30 SK, as you got only one line and that is the rule.”

I felt all the air sucked out of me. I had already spent all of the money and even had a small piece of a home yet unbought. We laughed until we wept all the way home. After all, a good laugh is worth a lot. 


I live in a very small duplex. A small house equals close quarters. The smoke alarm was mounted in the hall slap dab next to the kitchen. Whenever I cooked anything the smoke alarm would go off and, as I love to cook, it seemed to need to work overtime. 

Even my neighbor would come over ready to help put out the numerous fires which were really nothing more than steam. So I pulled out the batteries and left it like that: peaceful, quiet and non-protecting.

When I was traveling last summer, my landlady had a new smoke alarm put in, one that protects against smoke and CO2 poisoning. 

A few months ago, I was quietly sitting in my living room, next to the hallway that brings all of the rooms together, when a voice shouted, “Evacuate! Evacuate!” I leapt out of my chair and out of my body as well, wondering who had entered my house and was telling me to get out. Horns blew, voices shouted and I finally realized it was my smoke alarm complete with a demanding person inside. Of course, I felt rather foolish but then I forgot about it.

A month later, my sister came to visit and the same thing happened again: the voice shouting “Evacuate! Evacuate!” The bells and whistles scared my sister and made me roll with laughter as I explained about the alarm situation. After the third such visitation where no cooking was involved, I removed said alarm from hallway and put it on a top shelf in the living room.

My Swedish friends came for a visit in December.  The alarm decided to entertain us and shouted its “evacuate” orders and performed with its musical interlude. I threw it into the unused fireplace and it repeated itself several times. It was now not serving any purpose other that to annoy.

On the day the electrician came to give me an estimate on some electrical work, I had placed the alarm in a basket on the front porch, hoping its position would bring silence.

As the electrician  walked up my steps, the alarm spoke. “Evacuate! Evacuate!” ring, ring, bing, pling.  He jumped back and looked around as I opened the door. That did it. He removed the batteries, thus silencing the little gremlin forever. Yes, I have a new one, mounted in the living room. This one has better manners and is well-behaved, so far.


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