Monday, July 20, 2009

Crime Does Not Pay

I am sure that one day I will joke about today, but for hours now, my heart is racing, I cannot sleep, and I am acutely aware of the sound of the crickets, and the cars driving by, and the air moving gently.

I went to my friend Emily's house today. Emily is in Australia and generously offered her house to stay in whlie she is gone. I had dropped off my suitcases and a large box of paperwork Sunday, and planned to stay there and wade through the momentous project of finishing up my billing from the office and filing everything else, interspersed with the onerous task of packing and organizing our suitcases for the year long sojourn in Ecuador. Staying with Daphne and Julien is wonderful, but there is too much going on there to get much accomplished. I thought I had found the perfect solution. Maya could stay with her friends or come with me. I was very thankful that she decided to stay and play with Belina for the evening.

I had met with Kai, the young man who was taking care of the house for Emilly and Robert, and he had reviewed with me all the steps for managing the alarm for the house. It seemed easy and straightforward. Kai gave me a piece of paper with the code to get in and to arm the house when we left it. So I thought I was all set.

The key worked for the top lock and the bottom lock and I had thirty seconds to disarm the alarm. But it was dark and I could not find the light and I could not quite see the alarm panel numbers. I was too rushed to look for the light switch, and I realized that I really could not see the numbers on the panel because I had my contacts on, which are for far vision and not bifocals but I pressed the numbers where I thought they might be; later I realized that the numbers were not where I thought they ought to be, and I may not have read the correct sequence of numbers, but I tried them again and again and loud alarms started going off and I tried to check my iphone and look for the intructions and make sure I had the right numbers and then find the light switch to make sure I could see the panel, and I was getting more and more anxious and finally it seemed that I had the combination and the alarms stopped. The phone was ringing, but I was in the bathroom taking off my contacts so I could see the panel and I got to the phone too late. Next was a knock on the door, and a very irritated woman informed me that the police were on their way and that the alarm had been loud and that I should have answered the phone. She clearly knew I was no threat, I think she knew I was to be staying at the house. One police car with plainclothes policemen arrived; they were nice and polite, but then another police car with uniformed policemen arrived to check too. I over-talked and over-explained and repeated myself and apologized profusely and they all went away, including the very disapproving neighbour, and I sat down to work.

I used my iphone to email Emily in Australia, and she emailed me back immediately with reassurance. Shirley the neighbour had insisted that there would be a significant charge for the false alarm, which was fine with me, I can certainly understand that.

I shuffled paper for four hours. Julien called to ask me to check on Elmer who appeared to be unable to move, so I packed up my computer nad my briefcase and armed the house. But I did not hear the noise I was supposed to hear after I locked the door. What if I had done it wrong again? I waited outside, uncertain as to what to do. I emailed the student to see what he would say, but it was 1:30 in the morning and I kept emailing myslef instead of him, and it was too late to call. I became more and more distraught, too scared to try to re-enter the house, fearful that I would set off the alarm again and upset the neighbourhood.

I drove across town to check on Elmer and decided that he did not need to go to the vet. What do I do now? I don't think I can go back, but what if something happens tonight?

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