The first rule of the Internet is: You don’t talk about the Internet.
Wait. That’s something else. Whoops!
No, the first rule of the Internet is: You don’t announce when you’re going out of town, because surely someone in your Facebook feed whom you haven’t seen in person since 1986 or some random blog reader who suspects you have really awesome socks will break into your house while you’re gone, so pretend you’re not traveling. (Socks? That seems improbable. As does some random robbing us, which is sort of the point.)
Anyhoo. In the past I’ve always been sort of vague about trips because I’m paranoid and whatever, but no more! HEY INTERNET, we’re going on a family trip. C’mon over and try to break into our house, if you like. You’ll recognize it because it’s the one with a dozen PROTECTED BY OFFICIAL-SOUNDING ALARM SYSTEM COMPANY signs all over it, now. This is because 1) we recently has the Official-Sounding Alarm System Company spend a fun-filled day here drilling holes into pretty much everything and 2) I’m pretty fond of my socks and don’t want them stolen.
The dogs are at the Puppy Spa (why yes, we did opt for the “daily nature walk” for Licorice—only Licorice, as a “daily nature carry” was not offered for Duncan—and afternoon Frosty Paws treats for both dogs) and a friend has been enlisted to water the vegetables if it doesn’t rain and I am pretty sure that if anyone so much as breathes sideways on the exterior of the house, it will blare sirens and call the police and maybe even spontaneously combust.
You have to understand, I am not a house alarm sort of person. I am scared of many, many (OMG SO MANY) things, but burglary isn’t one of them, I guess. We have locks on the doors. Our house is pretty ordinary, well-lit, and in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a crime issue. It just never really occurred to me that this was something we might want. Alarms are something people install out of FEAR! Or, you know, actual thought. We hadn’t thought about it.
With a preface like that, you may now be confused as to why we installed an alarm. “Why, Mir,” you are possibly thinking right now (if you haven’t wandered off in boredom, that is) “that kind of sounds like you never thought about getting an alarm. Yet… you got an alarm. How much have you been drinking, exactly?”
Yeah, we got an alarm. No, I haven’t been drinking.
Funny story! Except… it’s not a funny story. At all. And I’m going to be vague and annoying, so apologies in advance, but let’s sum it up this way: Once upon a time, not all that long ago, someone I love VERY VERY MUCH got up and slept-walked their way out of our house in the middle of the night. By the time one dog started freaking out and woke up the other dog and the rest of us were awake wondering what the hell had gotten into the dogs, it was like a scene out of some alien abduction movie, because said someone was GONE without clothes or keys or even shoes, it seemed, and all the doors were locked so it was unclear how the exit had even been achieved.
Spoiler: Everyone is fine, but it was an awful, AWFUL hour (that felt like about ten years), and a 911 call, and a very disoriented family member who was discovered walking down a busy street in the wee hours, and did I mention it was awful? Because it was. Awful.
The very next day we purchased several battery-operated motion detectors and placed them around strategically at bedtime. They go BONGBONG! if activated, and while the idea is that they’d easily be activated by a wandering human, it turns out that they are also easily activated by a small dog who slips out a bedroom door during a bathroom run. It took only a couple of incidents of dog-related BONGBONG! for us to decide that perhaps we needed professional help.
And that is how Casa Mir came to be wired and electronically activated to the gills; it’s not so much to keep bad guys out as it is to keep everyone else in. (Try sharing that with the alarm installation folks if you get your own alarm, by the way. We saw a lot of really interesting facial expressions during this process.) And sure, if we’re going to go ahead and get wired, let’s do the whole shebang.
We now have integrated smoke detectors and every door and window in the joint is somehow connected to an enormous box of wires that now lives in the back of our coat closet. We have a panic button and a HELP I’VE FALLEN AND I CAN’T GET UP button and a user manual roughly the same size as the OED. We also have a single motion detector on the ground floor, which was the very last thing set up by the team of nice gentlemen who spent an entire day drilling holes in the house. They started at about 9:00 in the morning and got to this “electronic eye” around 6:30, so it was a pretty long day.
Installer Guy: So you can see this little red light goes on when it sees you, and you’ve got coverage in this whole area, here. See how I’m triggering it?
Me: Oh, cool. Hey, let me see what happens when I come around this corner.
Installer Guy: Triggered it.
Me: Awesome. Lemme try the stairs. Can it see to the stairs?
Installer Guy: Yeah, it should.
Me: I don’t see the light.
Installer Guy: Give it a sec.
Me: I’m down the stairs. I’m in the kitchen. THE LIGHT DIDN’T GO OFF. IT DIDN’T SEE ME.
Installer Guy: Hmmm. That should’ve worked.
Me: Can you adjust the range? Change the angle?
Installer Guy: Sure, give me a second.
This was followed by a delightful hour of him climbing a ladder, taking down the sensor, drilling some new holes, re-mounting the sensor, and us taking turns doing various sorts of interpretive dance in the swath of real estate between the bedrooms and any sort of access to the outdoors. As soon as one of us failed to trigger the sensor at a reasonable movement, back up on the ladder he’d go. At one point—I swear this is true—Installer Guy had gotten so into this entire exercise that he was all “Let me try!” prior to snaking his way down the staircase flat on his back. It was pretty entertaining.
At long last, the sensor was properly mounted and angled on the teensy piece of undrilled wall which was left after 90 minutes of this fun.
Even now, it seems a little bit overkill, to me, but I’ll admit I’ve slept a lot better since the installation. As freak of a thing as it was, The Night Of The Vanishing, I never EVER want to go through that again. And now no one is getting out of the house undetected unless they’re well and truly awake. (We think.)
And! Now we can go away and not have to worry about the house being robbed. I mean, not that I worried about that, before, but I might’ve decided to worry about it, and now I don’t.
This frees me up for other things, like spending the two days before we leave trying to do an entire week’s worth of work every day, strategically using up all of the perishable food in the house, refilling prescriptions and packing pill cases for the entire family, organizing my suitcase and Monkey’s suitcase and haranguing Chickadee to for the love of all that is holy put down your phone and go pack, running to the store for things we forgot two or three times, frantically smashing the ONLINE CHECK IN button our airline’s website at precisely 24 hours prior to departure to try to get a decent boarding position, cleaning, etc. It also leaves me PLENTY of time to feel impotent rage over spending two days running around like a crazy person and then my darling, darling, very cute (it is a good thing he is cute) husband announcing the night before departure, “I think I’ll go pack,” and returning 10 minutes later to say he’s all ready to go.
Our adventure begins very soon, and while we’re away, our socks (and everything else) will be well-protected. You can come over and test the system if you want, though. Just do me a favor and pretend to be sleeping, when you do. That’ll make me feel like it was really the right decision.