Monday, January 23, 2012

Dead Time

If you’re a working stiff, dead times are those last few minutes before the work day ends, typically from ten till to the hour. It’s too late to start a new job. You’ve cleaned up your work area. Now, you simply avoid the bosses eyes until the big hand is straight up and you can go home and turn into a couch potato.

But if you’re retired like me, there’s a lot of dead time, but the most awkward (and maddening) is when you and your spouse are about to leave the house. Could be for anything, dinner, a movie, or another trip to Wal-Mart for cat litter. You, being the typical male, have been ready go for oh, two maybe three hours, but the little woman is still at it, applying those final touches of makeup, hitting the john one last time, and looking for the box of Kleenex (why do they always need Kleenex?).

It was during just such a dead time that life here at the humble abode suddenly got exciting. I was dressed and ready to go, car keys in hand, just roaming around the house, when I found myself staring at the alarm panel. Below the keypad numbers are three buttons, each with a little symbol. One is a red cross for an ambulance, one is of a flame for the fire department, and the other is a little blue shield for the po-lice. Fortunately, we  have never had occasion to push those particular buttons. Well, there was the incident where the Missus broke her ankle but I used the old fashioned 911 for that little emergency.

So I’m standing there, thinking, I wonder if those buttons even work? Now on a typical false alarm, the most common being letting the cat outside without first disabling the system, the siren sounds (scaring the Bejesus out of the dog), a signal automatically goes out to the Alarm Center, and then someone calls to check on your well being. No big deal. This is a test and only a test. I'm curious. What’s the harm? I push the po-lice button. .

The siren goes off as expected, the dog hides under the bed, but no phone call. The Alarm Center is usually very quick to respond, thirty seconds or less, but no. A minute passes, two, then a ring. Ah, the boys are a little slow today. But it’s my neighbor calling.

“Are you guys okay?”

“Uh, yeah…why?”

“The Alarm Center just called us to say you have an emergency at your house. They’ve called the po-lice.”

Oh shit.

“Honey, where’s the number for the Alarm Center? I need to call them, like NOW.”

I make the call. A man asks my name and password. Thankfully, I remember both. The emergency is cancelled.

Moral: Do not push buttons when you don't know what they do. Well, unless you have a little dead time on your hands.

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