Home Security Systems and the Fight-or-Flight Response
You know how you alert the authorities whenever you hear that the alarm system for a nearby car or home has gone off? Yeah, me neither.
I abhor alarm systems of all kinds. I had the misfortune of going to college during the car alarm’s heyday. Living, as I did, in dormitories and apartment buildings, there were always a couple dozen cars within earshot of my bedroom window that had security systems. Every time the wind blew, one of those cars would start losing it’s mind – honking and beeping, hyperventilating and carrying on. The commotion would last for ten minutes. The owner was never around, the car was never worth more than the cost of the labor for installing the alarm system, and I was never able to get back to sleep.
My experiences with home security systems are fewer in number than my run-ins with car alarms, but greater in trauma. My parents’ alarm system is the worst. God help you if you try to break into that joint and steal whatever it is they are protecting (i.e. a pair of recliners, a Kureig coffee maker, and about a dozen pair of the sort of capri pants women buy when they decide they are too old for shorts).
Someone broken into their home a few years, and they decided to retaliate by purchasing the same security system used to gaurd against theft at Tower of London should someone attempt to steal the Crown Jewels. It has flashing lights and a siren that is 110dB. If you mistakenly set off this alarm and somehow manage to keep from crying, wetting you pants or curling up into the fetal position, the government should make you an officer in the Marines. You should get to skip boot camp. You are a badass.
Here is the origin of today’s rant: I set off the security system of the home of my friends Erik and Audra this week. Their alarm had gone off while they were out of town, you see. The monitoring company called them, said a police officer had driven by and that everything was okay, but Audra wanted to know if Todd and I (with baseball bat in hand) would mind doing a quick walk through just to make sure nothing was amiss. In my haste to bludgeon the squatters I imagined were holed up in her bedroom, I set off the alarm. Don’t ask for the details regarding how. Let me just confess to being powerfully stupid and leave it at that.
What do you do when you mistakenly set off a friends’ home alarm? I tell you what I did: I grabbed my husband by the arm and yelled, “We gotta get outta here – now!”
“Do you think we should call her and get the code?” Todd wanted to know.
“Let’s just go,” I insisted. (Note: I am a panicer.)
I called Audra from the car. Told her I set off the alarm.
“That’s okay,” she said. “If I give you the code, would you mind going back in and turning it off?”
“I can’t right now, I’m in the car,” I explained.
“Oh. Like in the car driving away from the house?”
“Yes,” I admitted. “I guess we need to turn around. Give me a minute.”
“Sure,” she said. “How far down the road are you?”
“Not far.” We were in our driveway, but our home is quite close by, so it wasn’t a lie. Not exactly.
Audra, if you’re reading this, I’m not a total imbecile. This was clearly fight-or-flight. Isn’t one of your degrees in psychology? I shouldn’t have to explain this to you. We’re talkin primal stuff here. A nervous system thing. Hormones and junk like that. I had a fight-or-flight response, and you know I’m not a fighter.
The good news is that Audra and Erik’s home was fine (which is more than I can say for the rabbit we babysat for the daughter of our other friends, Jon and Mari, during the very same Winter break. Rest in peace, Mrs. Flufferstoffen.) The follow-up good news is that alarm systems really do work. They may not inspire bystanders to call the authorities, but they certainly scare off the poor low-lifes who set them off.
Thank you for reading. Please leave requests for house-sitting and rabbit care in the comments section.
(Mari of the dead rabbit on the left, Audra of the burglary in the middle, me on the right. Oh, and I also lost Audra’s cat once when I was suppose to be feeding it, but it came back after a couple of weeks.)