Sunday, December 5, 2021

"Chime and Chime Again"

By Jerry Zezima

Since it’s my job to ferret out problems, most of which I cause myself, I am obligated to report that my neighborhood is on high alert for a missing ferret.

That’s the latest urgent message I have received from the company that operates the doorbell camera I recently purchased. It’s especially unnerving considering that: (a) we don’t have a doorbell and (b) the camera doesn’t work.

But that hasn’t stopped me from being inundated by daily alerts about Peeping Toms and weaselly critters that have been spotted near my house.

(For the record, ferrets aren’t spotted, although some of them are striped. Stripes are what the Peeping Toms should be wearing. And a few of the reportedly missing cats that prowl my backyard are, I am sure, peeping toms.)

At any rate, this is alarming because the alarm company also sends me home security alerts so often that I now live in a constant state of home insecurity.

Then there’s the neighborhood group that bombards me with emails about nefarious doings on my street.

I would become a shut-in except I’d keep receiving alerts about a motion being detected in the living room or a window being open in the kitchen.

It’s a good thing the world can’t see what goes on in the bathroom.

I wasn’t about to tell a technician named Vinny, who came over to fix the alarm system.

“If you really want to feel safe, get a wireless camera,” he advised. “You can install it yourself. A monkey could do it.”

“Where can I rent one?” I asked.

“A camera?” Vinny said.

“No,” I answered. “A monkey.”

The next day, I went to a home improvement store and spoke with Tool Master Mike, who also is a camera guru.

“This is the kind you need,” he said, handing me a small box containing an indoor-outdoor camera, batteries, a charger and instructions that not even a monkey could understand.

“Will the camera pick up suspicious activity?” I wanted to know.

“Yes,” Mike replied. “And suspicious characters.”

“Like me?” I wondered.

“Could be,” said Mike. “It also will detect dogs, bushes, leaves and anything else that moves around. After a while, you will know if it’s suspicious.”

I took the camera home and instantly regretted not hiring an orangutan to put it up. The house’s brick facade wasn’t as much of an impediment as the fact that the stupid thing failed to function.

Technically, it operates fine, but since I decided to put it on a windowsill inside, it couldn’t send moving images of what was going on outside.

I walked out the front door and waved to the camera, which miraculously didn’t break when I flashed a dumb grin, but I might as well have been Claude Rains, who not only starred in the original screen version of “The Invisible Man” but also, for the time being, is dead.

Back inside, any movement in the living room set off a series of chimes that were so annoying, so relentless, so absolutely maddening that I wanted to smash the camera with a crowbar.

A friendly technician said over the phone that the camera couldn’t pick up movement outside because the front window has two panes.

At that point, I had two pains — one in my head, the other in my neck.

“Put the camera outside and it will work,” the technician said.

Fortunately, a great handyman named Andy, who was doing a job at the house with our equally great contractor, Anthony, put up a shelf on the window frame outside. When the guys return, they’ll secure the security camera.

Then the chimes will start again. And all those other alerts will continue.

That’s why I am on the lookout for a missing ferret. I hope it doesn’t turn up in the bathroom.

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima

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