In my rush yesterday to talk about our luggage mixup, I neglected to mention the other minor fiasco which also occurred. Now’s as good a time as any to rectify that omission.
Yesterday afternoon I received a great tip on home protection while vacationing. If departing homeowners telephone their county sheriff’s office and provide their travel dates, a patrol car will perform periodic checks of the residence to ensure nothing is amiss. And if the homeowners leave the name of each friend or relative who might visit the homestead in their absence, the sheriff’s office can log the person’s identity to avoid confusion if any mishaps occur — like a burglar alarm going off, for instance.
I didn’t know about the option to call the sheriff’s department before Sophia and I headed north for my sister’s wedding last week. Accordingly, I merely notified the alarm company of our travel dates. And because I hadn’t asked anyone to enter the house in our absence, I instructed the alarm company to contact the police immediately (without first calling us) if our alarm tripped.
My favorite feature of our alarm system has to be remote access. I can activate and deactivate the system at any time using an application on my cell phone. If employed properly, the feature can be a real lifesaver. But if not used properly … well, you’ll see.
Sophia and I “boarded” Prometheus at her parents’ house during our trip north. Although we’d provisioned the Gambinos with enough dog supplies to last a month, we hadn’t anticipated the havoc my wife’s young niece and nephew might cause. The two tykes got hold of the puppy’s entire food supply before his breakfast was served yesterday morning and “planted” it in their front yard. They’d apparently hoped to grow entire bags of the stuff, just like grandpa Vito does with “seeds” in his garden. Seeing no other approved canine edibles on hand, Sophia’s father realized he’d have to retrieve more dog food from our house. He called us at the airport as we stood at the gate awaiting boarding. After telling him where to find a spare key, I promised to deactivate the burglar alarm using my trusty phone app and sent him on his way.
No sooner did I hang up than we heard our zone called for boarding. We rushed forward, hoping to get first crack at the precious overhead storage space. But then I couldn’t find our boarding passes. Sophia and I pawed frantically through our belongings before I finally discovered the papers in my backpack where I’d earlier stowed them for safekeeping. Of course, in all the excitement, the promise to deactivate our alarm system slipped my mind.
I remembered my promise only after we landed in Atlanta and the flight attendant issued the okay to use electronic devices again. Upon powering up my phone, I found a voicemail from Vito. He didn’t sound happy. Quite the opposite, he’d grown so irate he began the message cursing in Italian. Then he switched back to English but seemed no less peeved. I could understand why.
As my father-in-law informed me, he was placing his call from the local sheriff’s office. They were holding him “for questioning,” having caught him rummaging through our house as the burglar alarm blared. Apparently, his word that this was his daughter’s home and he’d been invited in wasn’t good enough for the deputy called to the scene. To Vito’s chagrin, the sheriff’s office refused to release him until one of the homeowners verified his assertions in person. He closed his message with a strident demand to: “Get me out of here, now!”
Vito had left his voicemail message a little before 9:00 a.m. I’d played it back at 1:00 p.m. By the time we extricated him from custody it was almost 3:00. When we arrived, I’m not sure which of the facts brought to his attention enraged him the most: a) my inadvertent admission that we’d stopped to feed Prometheus before coming to free him; or b) that great tip about calling the sheriff before traveling, which a helpful sergeant offered while telling Vito and us: “You know, all this trouble could have been avoided if …”