Alarming

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, September 21, 2016 11:11 PM

Every night before we go to bed, there’s a routine. Much like the rest of the world, we stumble through said routine without thinking. Kevin has usually fallen asleep on the couch. I take the dog out, then wake said-Kevin who often looks at me like I’m from another planet while I implore him, gently, coercively, to get up because we need to go to bed. We brush our teeth, I remove the decorative pillows from the bed and retire them to the edges of the bathtub where they remain precariously perched all night. It’s really the only thing the tub is used for. Riley settles himself down with a harrumph and we climb into bed to begin the job of trying to sleep. 

Oh, and I set the alarm. 

One of the things we had put into the house when we moved in was an alarm system. It was installed by the same company who installed our in-ceiling and in-wall speakers for the audio system.  The doors are all wired to elicit a beep when one of them opens, when the alarm isn’t on. That way anyone in the house can tell if someone has entered or exited the building. It’s helpful believe it or not just as a way to know everything that’s happening. 

In the morning, we rise, make the bed, get dressed to take the dog for a walk and then one of us turns off the alarm before we exit the room. 

This morning, I slept in a bit. I had another night of not sleeping well – I swear this election is going to kill me and I didn’t even watch Rachel or Lawrence last night – and I woke up at 6:45. Not quite ready to get up yet, I decided to close my eyes for just a few minutes. Next thing I knew, it was 7:30. Kevin was up and I called to him. He came from the direction of the kitchen. Riley was still in the bedroom, sleeping. When Kevin arrived, he too got up, ready to go out on the deck. 

“He hasn’t been out yet, has he?” I asked. 

“No, but he’s fine for a minute,” Kevin said before turning to the dog. “Riley? Do you want to go out on the deck?” 

I had my first alarm system when I lived in my townhouse. I was living alone, for the first time in my life, and thought it would be a good idea. I had Protection One install the system. I don’t know what they’re like now, but then, the alarm was activated and deactivated with a touch-tone phone. You could have a keypad installed as well, but I didn’t want to spend the money. So I used my phone. 

The townhouse was two stories. There was many a time that I’d come in and the alarm would start to beep, warning of an impending disaster if I didn’t disable it. Only someone would have forgotten to place the portable phone into its charging station and the phone was therefore dead, making disabling difficult. I’d race upstairs, taking the stairs two at a time, down the hall and into my bedroom where I’d grab the other phone and desperately punch in the numbers before the alarm sounded. Most of the time I made it. But it was a stressful way to live. Eventually I had a key pad installed near the front door.

The morning of the Northridge earthquake, as the earth roared and I listened to glass breaking all over my house, as I clung to the door jamb waiting for the violence to stop, the alarm decided to go off, contributing to the mayhem. I hated that alarm. 

The morning we moved, after I had discontinued the service, one of the movers inadvertently stepped on the panic button that was in my bedroom. The sheriff’s department was there within five minutes. Luckily it was pretty obvious what was going on so he left shortly thereafter. Did I mention that I hated that alarm? 

“Wanna go out, sweetie?” Kevin asked again this morning as Riley grabbed Wubba and headed toward the door leading to the deck. 

Me: “The alarm –“ 

But it was too late. The door opened and the house was suddenly engulfed in a cacophony of blaring sirens. Kevin quickly punched in the code and the noise ceased.

“We’re going to get a call,” I said, still in bed. Sure enough, the phone rang and Kevin raced to pick it up. I heard him chuckle, give his name and our password. In other words, it was us being stupid. No need to send the Calvary.

It was an alarming way to start the day, but at least we know the system works. If only that was enough to help me sleep better these days.

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