False Alarm


I was walking with my friend William down Park Ave after we’d seen the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met earlier today. It was one of those rare, lovely, breezy summer days in New York where it’s a joy to be outside so we were taking advantage of being out in it. We were spontaneously on our way to Grand Central Station because William had never been to the Manhattan landmark before and I was excited to show it to him and show off what I knew about the bustling train station.

I’m in New York City for most of this week-some fun and some work; this was one of the “fun” days (or so it started, but I digress).

He turned to me and said,” How is Miss Cathy doing? Are you okay leaving her while you’re here in the city?”

“You know,” I said upon reflection as we dodged cabs and other pedestrians crossing Vanderbilt Place, “I do.” “I mean, I still worry but I make sure that she has everything that she needs before I leave for a trip, I make sure to go over with her where her emergency alarms and numbers are and I tell Tony to be on guard.”

I keep reminding myself that the doctor says it’s good for her to be on her own (especially now while she still can be) and I just try to let go of worrying about what might happen.

I told him about my increasing concerns over her cooking and forgetting how hot the burner is but I can’t get her to turn the flame to low, so, I have to let that go, too (and I’ve developed a taste for everything being “blackened”- I choose not to see it as burned, kinda like the glass being half full-with bits of char in it).

She had just called me to ask, “Did you just call me?” (I had not) which prompted William’s inquiry. She sounded good, full of her usual chatter about everything that she was doing. When she told me that she’d been downstairs to visit a neighbor in the building I thought to myself, “Good for her! I’m not gone 24 hours and she’s already done more socializing than she’s done in the past month-I should go away more often.”

I was pretty content to move on with my day.

After cocktails and an early supper at a trendy restaurant in the neighborhood known as Hell’s kitchen (I know-only in New York right) I was walking back to the apartment I was staying in and figured it was as good a time as any to check my voicemail.

I’d noticed a call earlier from an 800 number but thought nothing of it when I saw that it was from “Provo, Utah”. I don’t know anybody in Provo so imagine my surprise when I listened to the message that it was courtesy call from the alarm company telling me that the EMS had been dispatched because they couldn’t reach anyone at the apartment and for me to call another 800 with the pass code to find out any further information.

WHAT!? Huh? I had to stop on the street and listen to the message several times to try to remember the number to call and stop myself from going into full on panic mode. I never could get the number it right either because of adrenaline or street noise, which was frustrating. I didn’t have my messenger bag (read: “man purse”) with me (of all days) I didn’t have a pen and paper. I was near the apartment where I’m staying so I got inside as fast as the elevator would take me upstairs, trying to call Miss Cathy in the elevator (and there was no answer) so I rushed in to listen to the message (yet) again and call the number given to find out what was going on.

I gave the young man that answered the call all the relevant information as requested including the pass-code that mom made up (thank God I remembered it or they wouldn’t be able to give me any information). He put me on hold (just long enough to feel like forever and for my mind to start to come up with the most god awful scenarios). He came back on just before I had time to think up the worst and he said that the alarm had been set off three times. They were able to talk to mom and verify that two were false alarms but they didn’t reach her the third time so the police were dispatched “as is protocol”.

I listened then asked for more information but he said that that was all that he had, the only other thing he could tell me from the notes that he had on the computer screen in front of him was that my brother was called when they couldn’t reach me.

I listed to what little he had to say but I needed more. Part of me understood that he was doing his job and telling me all that he knew so it would be foolish to keep asking him questions that I knew he couldn’t answer but I couldn’t stop myself, it was like I had “questioning turrets”-I couldn’t shut up. I had to make myself stop asking him for answers (and lets face it-comfort and reassurance that everything was okay) and get off the phone with him and call my brother.

I called my brother’s cell phone and it went directly to voicemail, I called my sister in law and got the same thing, I called the apartment once more in hopes of reaching somebody and it rang until voicemail clicked in.

Now I was getting really worried but I was more pissed than panicked that no fucking body was on the other end of the line and I needed to know what was going on!

I thought to call our upstairs neighbor; Ron (one of Miss Cathy’s other “sons”) in the off chance that he heard something or hopefully knew something.

He picked up on the second ring (thank you Jesus) and he told me (quite calmly) that everything was okay; it as all a false alarm and that Miss Cathy was downstairs asleep.

“Asleep?! Asleep?!” What the ……I’m sitting here mentally multitasking how soon I can pack, if I need to pack, what time the next train to DC was/is and deciding just how much guilt I’d have time to heap upon myself on the train ride home and she’s asleep!

Of course I said none of this as I listened to Ron, he told me that there was a freak summer rain this afternoon that was very intense and the wind had knocked over several of the plants on the balcony. Miss Cathy was attempting to go out to make things right and forgot to turn off the alarm as she pushed the sliding glass doors open. Apparently the sound of the alarm got her rattled so she forgot the pass-code to reset the system and she really started to panic when the security company started talking to her through security system, which is a box on the wall in the kitchen.

She calmed down enough and was able to give them the information they needed to re-set the system but somehow she set off again, and again she was able to give them the info needed to re-set the system and call of the cavalry but what I don’t know yet (because she’s “asleep”and not answering the phone) is why she didn’t, couldn’t or was too flustered to do the same thing the third time she set the alarm off by mistake.

When they couldn’t reach her the third time they sent out the police who came to the apartment and used the pass-code on the lock-box on the front door to gain entry (which really freaked her out) and she couldn’t find her ID to prove that she was who she is (I had left her ID on the living room table for her but it’s my fault that I didn’t specifically hold it up for her to make sure that she knew it was there-I just left it where I “thought” she was sure to see it next to her daily pill box.

Fortunately, this is when Ron heard the ruckus and came down and vouched for her as the owner of the apartment. The police were still not convinced that she wasn’t being coerced into saying that everything was alright so they conducted a search of the entire apartment to make sure no one was in one of the back bedrooms attempting to do her harm.

Satisfied that it was all a mistake they left and the alarm was reset. Ron sat and talked to her for more than a half hour then left when she said that she was going to bed.

So, thanks to Ron I now know that she’s all right and I don’t have to “worry”, worry. I can only assume that the storm knocked out the cell towers where my brother lives so that’s why he can’t reach me (or not, but I’m not going to lose any sleep worrying about him tonight). I am going to give Miss Cathy what “for” for not picking up the phone.

I know her very well and I know that she sleeps with the phone next to her bed and she can pick it up and answer or ignore it-it’s her choice you know she’d be a “chatty-cathy” and pick up if it were one of her girlfriends calling with some gossip or one of the country relatives of unknown relation calling but just because the “alarm” is over for her-it’s “false” of her to think that she isn’t the only person impacted by the events of her day.

“Luu-cy, u got some ‘spaining to do”

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