Last night we were all going through the motions of winding down on a weeknight.
Dinner dishes piled in the sink to be washed sometime in the unforseeable future.
Then an ear piercing screeching sound interrupted our otherwise peaceful routine.
This is the time when a well-oiled machine of a family with an emergency plan in place shines. Every member grabbing their assigned item like the family pet or the fire safe box with birth certificates and other important papers in it and in a single file procession (quickly but not dangerously) exiting the home, making their way to their their pre-designated meeting place outside without uttering a word.
Here’s what happened in our house.
First all of us kind of stopped what we were doing and just looked at each other with the same “what the hell is that?” look on our faces. Then Annie started screaming, “we’re all gonna die” and Jackson ran out of the shower and ran around in circles…naked and wet. Ed said, “where is that sound even coming from?” and I answered, “I don’t know, but make it stop, it’s giving me a headache.”
We had a alarm service installed when we moved in six years ago but to be honest, none of us were really sure what plan we signed up for.
“Is it a fire alarm?” Ed said as he started fanning imaginary smoke away from an alarm in the hallway.
“Maybe it’s the intruder alarm,” I said. “Everyone stop moving. Maybe we set off the motion detectors,” I suggested.
“Didn’t we get the carbon monoxcide alarm, too?” asked Ed – sniffing into the air. “Does anyone smell anything weird?”
“Well this is just great (Alarm is still screeching, by the way),” I said. “We don’t even know what we are supposed to be alarmed ABOUT! An intruder, a fire, chemicals, our nation’s healthcare system….it would be easier if we just knew what the crisis was!”
(Now we are downstairs staring dumbly at the alarm control panel)
“I think we are supposed to enter a code,” said Ed. “What’s our code?”
“Oh I’m so sure I remember that,” I yelled (not because I was mad, but because he couldn’t hear me over the alarm anymore.) “Just start pressing buttons.”
“Do you think the police are on their way,” he asked.
“No – definitely not. I forgot to file the alarm permit with the city last year.”
“Finally some good news,” he said.
“Call the alarm company,” I scribbled onto a notepad….because we were all deaf now.
“Who are we signed up with?,” he asked.
“Well it was one company, but they got bought out by another company and then merged with another company.”
After finding the number and being placed on hold for 15 minutes (um, really – this is supposed to be an emergency!) we had someone on the line.
“Sounds like your alarm is going off….what’s your code word,” said the representative.
After rattling off 15 or so probable words with some kind of significance to us – we hit the jackpot.
“Well – we aren’t getting any kind of alert that you’re alarm is going off here,” said the rep.
“Oh yea,” said Ed. “I unplugged the alarm from the phone line during the last hurricane.”
“That was years ago!”
“We’ve been paying for an alarm system for three years that hasn’t even been plugged in?!”
About 30 minutes later we had the system back on line, properly armed and code words committed to memory. And in the spirit of being prepared….we also set up a family meeting place. Call us well oiled.