Thursday, February 19, 2009

Don't be alarmed

I think I have been spending a bit of time fretting lately. I should not fret. It is not good for the heart or the skin. Everyone has been giving me that look of chin-down, burrow-eyed deep concern, as if I am caught up in terrible traumas. But it is only a house remodel. And it is moving along. So here’s the update: Everything has totally been stripped, and then some if it has been rebuilt. But when you are (read that as “when your contractor is”) tearing apart sheetrock and ugly plastic closet doors and decking and boards and nails and paint chips, and you discard them in a 12-foot pile of debris in the back yard, certain things can go awry.

Because somewhere in the midst of that debris, a fire alarm may have been disposed, one that once clung to the ceiling on one of the floors in the house.

Yes, our neighbor Doug – one of those genuinely nice people whose friendly demeanor is elevated further by his Scottish accent – called me on my cell phone a little before 11:00 pm a week ago while the rain was saturating San Francisco. The call went something like this:

“Hello?” (Me in my harsh deep voice when the caller ID doesn’t tell me who it is).

“Hey Joey, it’s your neighbor, Doug. “

“Oh. Hi, Doug. How are you doing?” (now friendlier)

“Well, I’m calling to tell you that there is a bit of a loud noise, like an alarm coming from the back of your house.”

I was startled. The house was on fire or something had been broken in and stolen . “I’m so sorry, Doug. I’m on my way home and then will be right over.”

“Ok, that sounds good. The neighbors are sort of gathering around and wondering what’s going on. I can see a red flashing light in the pile that looks like it might be where the sound is coming from.”

“Oh, gosh. I’m so sorry. We’ll be over really soon to deal with that.”

I called Brad and told him about our predicament. He jumped in his truck with a flashlight. I hopped off the J-Church streetcar and he was there to pick me up and drive us over to the remodeling project.

Just driving up the street, the acute shrill of the alarm was mind-blowing. No wonder Doug had to call. There it was, the 12-foot pile of unsteady boards and sticks and trash, complete with sharp nails – the extremely rusted kind— with a high-pitch, high-decible sound being emitted like a newborn vulture that got lost in its creaky nest. Only this vulture was a smoke alarm pulled out in the demolition and this nest was not very well constructed. The rain soaked my hair and clothes and ears, but I could still hear the directions from our neighbor, Doug, who stood on his deck trying to guide me from above to the source of this neighborhood siren.

A few more dubious steps up the pile and I slammed my hand into one of those nails that makes you think, “Gosh, when was that last tetanus shot?” Brad kept yelling to be careful and to let him do it and that the pile was so unsteady and slipping. Meanwhile, I maneuvered a few more steps up the pile wanting to take the credit for being the hero that spared the eardrums of our neighbors.

With Doug’s neighborly guidance, I grabbed the noisemaker and flung it over the pile and down into the driveway near the street.

Brad and I went back to the ‘fretting studio’ to dry off and try to fall asleep.

No comments:

About Me | Contact Me | 2007 Joey Goldman