False alarm

by Radio Somewhere

I must have been a career criminal in a recent life. I say this, because I always have great difficulty with devices that involve security codes, such as safes and alarms. I literally cannot open a safe even when I know the combination! I suspect it’s the universe’s way of keeping me honest in this life.

So I get very anxious when I’m required to open up a building that has a burglar alarm — such as the museum where I am a volunteer docent. Usually, a manager actually unlocks the building, but today, I was having to wing it myself. I had the key and the combination and had been walked through the process yesterday. But I still joked that perhaps I should scan the local Starbucks for cops — and bring one with me for when I would inevitably set off the alarm!! Happily though, I managed to open and close the museum without incident — as far as know!

But it reminded me of a rather funny alarm story at a previous job — and it doesn’t involve me! I worked at the distribution center of a Seattle retail chain. The place usually operated on a regular Monday-Friday schedule, but between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it went to a seven-day operation, and the first weekend was always a bit hit-and-miss. First of all, no one ever remembered to reprogram the heating system, and by Sunday afternoon the place was freezing. But the early morning routine could be different too, depending on who was route driver that day. The regular driver was a real early bird, arriving around 6am and disarming the alarm system before anyone else arrived. But the second driver kept more civilized hours, often arriving around the same time as the warehouse staff.

On the first holiday weekend of 2011, two warehouse workers were the first to arrive — and it didn’t occur to them that the alarm might still be enabled. It was. They unlocked the door and went into the kitchen to get the coffee going and make instant oatmeal for breakfast. The route driver arrived to find the alarm ringing and a Seattle police car outside. Our driver was pretty sure he knew what had happened — and why. He reassured the cop that it was probably a false alarm and they entered the building. After turning off the alarm, they went into the kitchen and found the culprits enjoying breakfast — and conversing in sign language.

Yes, as luck would have it, the first people to arrive that morning were both deaf — and completely so! Neither one had any residual hearing. The cop thought it was pretty funny too!!