Oct.2, 1980  Sense and Nonsense

Barbara Eden was a recent guest on Alan Hamel’s afternoon television show. I remember her as the little blonde who used to appear magically from out of an ancient bottle on the “I Dream Of Jeanie” T.V. series.

Barbara was describing a nerve-wrecking real-life situation she had experienced. A burglar alarm system in her home accidentally became activated and she had been unable to turn the thing off. She had rushed out of her house in a state of helpless panic, the sounds of her burglar alarm echoing endlessly in her ears.

I heartily sympathized with Barbara. I once had a similar confrontation with one of those mechanical crime detectors. The noise from an activated burglar alarm has to be one of the most inhuman sounds ever devised by man to intimidate his fellow man! I was working as a chambermaid in a small country hotel. It was the off-season and the boss had given me free rein to spruce up some of the previously neglected rooms and hallways.

The smaller rooms were usually vacant but I entered them periodically to scrub and dust and polish. My boss must have forgotten that I was in the habit of entering these untenanted rooms. He neglected to inform me when he had a burglar alarm installed in the room next door to his office. In all innocence I entered the room. Almost instantly I was attacked by a deafening crescendo of sound. Unlike Barbara Eden I was incapable of running or of any movement whatever. Decibel upon decibel of the noise continued, while I stood rooted to the carpet, clutching my can of furniture polish and a dust cloth.

After an eternity I noticed a small crowd gathering in the room. My boss’s wife was gesturing excitedly. Everyone’s attention seemed to be centered on the small black box on the floor behind the door. The box was wired directly into the wall. There was no way it could be unplugged or switched off. Apparently a “key” was necessary to still the noises that reverberated incessantly from that innocent looking black box!

The boss’s wife searched frantically through her husband’s office for the all important key. She finally concluded that her spouse must have had it on his person when he left on a business trip that morning. The dreadful noise continued on and on…

A voice from the crowd shrilled out a simple solution to the problem. “Why not turn off the breaker?” Why not indeed! The circuit box was located. The significant breaker determined. A flip of the switch and then silence. Wonderful, wonderful silence!

I’ll bet Barbara Eden would agree with me. There should be a quieter way to trap a crook – especially an innocent one!

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