Friday, December 08, 2017

COLUMN: Home Security

It's a good thing you people have me around.

Some of you might think I'm merely a run-of-the-mill columnist, but this is where you're looking a gift Shane in the mouth. Upon further inspection, you'll quickly discover that columnizing is but one of many public services I can offer.

For instance, if you ever need someone to tell you that your favorite bands are all terrible, I'm your guy. If you need something DJed and/or soundtracked in any way, I'm here for you. If you ever find yourself too busy to watch television and wish there was someone out there who could watch ALL the television FOR you, I'm willing to make that happen. These are the sacrifices I make for the good of my community.

And now, I can add one other public service to the list: If you ever need someone to test the responsiveness, accuracy, and efficiency of the Rock Island Police Department, I am now highly experienced in this field.


The other night I was plagued by insomnia and playing around with apps on my phone in the middle of the night. Randomly, I ended up in the app for my home security system, where I came across a previously undetected menu of settings. One option immediately caught my sleep-deprived brain: "Arm system when door is locked from rear keypad?"

Well, heck YES, I wanted that to happen. There's two ways to arm my system when I leave the house. One method is via the control panel on my wall. You punch a button that tells the system you're leaving, and then some shrill woman starts yelling, "SYSTEM ARMED! LEAVE NOW!" This means I have thirty seconds to high-tail it out of the house before the motion sensors activate. I'm not a fan of this method because the shrill woman gives me a headache and I don't trust myself to accomplish ANYTHING in thirty seconds, especially first thing in the morning.

My other option is to activate it through the phone app, which I usually do every morning once I'm in the car. But it's easy to forget until I'm pulling away from the house. It's not legal to drive while talking on the phone, so I'm guessing it's even less legal to drive while arming one's security system.

This new option was a clear winner. If my system could arm itself whenever I locked the back door, that's one less thing I have to worry about in the challenging pre-coffee hours of the day. I activated this new option and went back to bed.

The next morning, I woke happy in the knowledge I had one less thing to do. I even managed to get out of the house a little earlier than usual. With door locked and alarm set, I made my way to a convenience store for some pre-work provisions. I returned to my car full of pride that I was still tracking to get to work ten minutes early. Then I looked at my phone and it all went to hell.

I blame sleep deprivation. When I locked my back door, my system indeed armed itself like it was supposed to. But when I opened the garage to get in the car, I promptly set it off. While I was standing in the gas station debating between a mocha vs. caramel frappucino, the shrill woman in my wall was screaming bloody murder. Or, more accurately, bloody burglary. My security company received the alarm and was trying desperately to call me, but I had left my phone in the car. Getting no response, they then called the police, who were now ALSO trying to call me to no avail. Out of options, the security company then called the backup emergency number on my account, which now meant that my 70-year-old parents were now ALSO trying to call me while already hopping into THEIR car to drive an hour to presumably confront the burglar and give him or her a good talking-to.

Suddenly I found myself racing back to my house, blatantly breaking the law by talking on my phone while driving. But since I was talking TO the police, perhaps it evened out. Except I COULDN'T talk to the police because this was all I heard:

"Hello, Mr. Brown. This is the [BEEP CALL WAITING] and we have an alarm going [BEEP CALL WAITING] officer at the [BEEP CALL WAITING] action?"
"Just a second, please."
"Just a second, please."
"This is the operator from [BEEP CALL WAITING] triggered an alarm [BEEP CALL WAITING] password?"

I just gave up and threw the phone down. By the time I got home, cops were already around the perimeter of the house, my parents were halfway to Woodhull, and I swear the woman in my wall was being more shrill than usual.

The good news is that I've now proven that our local police do some top-notch, fast-response work. I also know that if someone ever DOES break into my house, an action team of police, parents, and shrill women will assemble like the Avengers on my behalf. The bad news is that I left for work twenty minutes early and STILL somehow ended up ten minutes late. Plus I'm going to get fined by the city for a false alarm.

Plus I really should've gone with the mocha frappucino. The caramel one just isn't cutting it today.

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