Car Alarm

Since Cincinnati Bell keeps altering rates and decreasing the quality of their service to the point where they are bordering on utter uselessness, I’ve gotten rid of my home phone to save some cash. I like saving cash, and I thought I’d never miss having a land line. I’ve only been without it for a few days. I didn’t think it would be a big deal.

About 6 PM yesterday I headed out to hang with a friend and catch up on some Food Network and whatever ridiculously homosexual fashion based competition show he was going to be watching that night. On the way I drove to the phone company to pay my cell phone bill. In person. You know, so there would be no fuckups. I’d forgotten to bring my cell phone with me, but I just assumed that everything was kosher once the receipt was in my hand.


After a few relaxing hours at at my friend’s house learning how to cook and how not to dress, I had him call my cell to confirm everything was fine. And he got a message confirming that everything was, in fact, not at all fine, and my service had been fucking suspended.

When I got home, about 12:40 AM, I found a note on my door from my parents saying they could not reach me and I needed to call my cousin who had a job lead for an “immediate interview.” Of course, having only a cell phone which has been suspended, I could not call them to let them know that this was information I already had.

Upon picking up my cell phone to call the customer service line, I found out that not only was the customer service line closed for the day, but also that although my account had been suspended, it was still receiving texts for some reason (I couldn’t send them, only receive). My cousin had sent me three texts saying that my parents had not only called her looking for me, but called her parents as well. This psychotic overreactionism is nothing new on their part, but this was a little much. I checked my email only to find that they’d called my brother too, and he was joining in on the “your phone doesn’t work and you have an interview” circus which was becoming more and more irritating by the minute.

Then, around 1:15, my car alarm went off. Actually, I don’t have a car alarm and it’s not my car, so excepting the timestamp that whole sentence was a lie. Let me start again: the panic alarm on the van I borrowed from my parents went off. That’s only supposed to happen when you press a panic button on a key fob, as I understand it. I didn’t press that because I don’t have one of those. I just have a key. No key fob. No key fob means you have no way to trigger the panic alarm.

It also means you have no way to shut it off.

I ran out to the van and turned it on, and as I suspected the ignition fortunately killed the panic alarm. Chalking it up to a freak intercepted signal, I ignored the hate-drenched glares of my neighbors and headed back upstairs, only to have the same thing happen two minutes later. And two minutes after each time I shut it off. I was getting plenty of exercise, and plenty pissed as well. The owner’s manual gives no info on disabling the panic alarm. I know because I sat there reading the goddamned thing by the dome light, idling the engine so the horn wouldn’t wake up my neighbors. Again.

No help in the owner’s manual, and my phone was shut off so I couldn’t call my parents to see if this is a known issue for them. Desperate, I went inside and got my hex drivers thinking I’d just disconnect the battery. When I popped the hood I found that the terminal clamps were secured to the battery with very long headless bolts, rendering my hex drivers useless. I tried to loosen them by hand and got nowhere but filthy.

Then the engine died.

I don’t know why or how, but the engine just fucking quit. And I couldn’t restart it. With the engine off, I knew it was only a matter of time before the alarm reactivated itself, and it turned out that matter of time was about 1.5 seconds. If you think a car horn is loud when you’re standing in front of a car, try hearing it at 1:30 in the morning when you’re under the hood, 16 inches from the source of the sound that you know you are utterly powerless to stop. That’s a kind of acoustic hell they don’t have a name for.

I hopped in and turned the key on and off, hoping to stave off the alarm any way I could. It was triggering itself more and more quickly by that point, and would go off roughly every 20-40 seconds. As I sat there toggling the key back and forth, I knew the thing I needed to disconnect the clamp from that terminal was a 1/4″ or 5/16″ crescent wrench. Which I do not own. I considered just driving the thing to a Wal-Mart to buy a wrench, but I was afraid it would get towed from the parking lot while I was inside. So I decided on a race against time.

I mentally organized the last known location of my pliers and my flashlight and plotted the fastest route I could take to get them. Turning the key one last time, I took off like a shot. Or as near as a shot as can be achieved by an obese 33 year old sci-fi nerd at 1:30 in the morning. I ran into the house, got my pliers, and looked around frantically for my flashlight, which – and this should come as no surprise at this point – was not at all where I thought it was. Going room to room I finally found it, still in the package. Sealed in thick, untearable plastic. With no batteries in it.


With that honking motherfucking shitbox outside rapidly turning me into the neighborhood pariah, I popped open the end of the flashlight, only to remember that this was one of those new LED flashlights that can use AAA, AA, or C cell batteries. There was this weird little sliding device which I soon figured out was supposed to go between the batteries, so I popped in the two C cells that came with the flashlight. Guess what? They don’t fucking fit.

Well, actually they do. It’s just that there is a spring up inside the flashlight, which you can’t see, that compresses the differently sized batteries to the leads. It took me about ten seconds to figure that out, which, at 1:30 in the morning is equal to about 111 bajillion panic alarm honks.

I bolted out the door to find that everyone, EVERYONE, on my block was looking at me. Even the crackhead white trash losers across the street who never sleep anyway were looking down on me at this point. I turned the key to shut off the alarm one last time, then, utilizing hitherto unknown and still inexplicable automotive mechanic skills, I raced around to the engine and disconnected the clamp from the terminal in about seven nanoseconds. I didn’t know I could move that fast. I’m not even sure I used the flashlight. I was operating on a bloodstream full of shame and adrenaline rage, and if it had occurred to me I probably could have just chewed the fucking thing off at that point.

Mercifully silent and dark, I locked up the van and went to bed. It was about 2:30 before I calmed back down enough to even feel tired, and as soon as I did, BAM!, massive nosebleed. My sinuses, like the sinuses of most men in my family, are completely fucked up, so nosebleeds are no big deal for me. But this one came on like I had been shot. By the time I made the short jaunt to the bathroom my cupped hand was running over with blood. After stuffing my nose with toilet paper, letting it become completely saturated, then swapping it out for a new wad, it was a good half an hour before it stopped. My bathroom looked like a crime scene out of Dexter. All said, after the nosebleed and second post-excitement comedown, it was about 4 AM before I got to sleep.

Less than four hours of weak sleep later, I was awakened by a horrendous crash against my window. I don’t know what the fuck it was, but it scared the living shit out of me and woke me up with another flood of adrenaline. Then it happened again. Then I heard a frantic pounding and even more shit hitting the side of my house. I immediately jumped out of bed and threw on my sweats. I didn’t know what was happening, but someone was beating the shit out of my house like it was on fire. I just got my shirt over my head, when out of the corner of my eye I spotted by dad’s car across the street. Mother. FUCKER!

FURY. That is the only way to describe my state of mind. Blinding, searing, white hot fury. They had called at least five people to stalk me, they left a note at my house, and now, because all of that was apparently not enough, they came by at a quarter to eight in the morning and woke me up out of a much needed sleep by throwing shit at my house and beating on my door and basically scaring the hell out of me. I’ve seen Godzilla fireblast Tokyo with less passion than I was feeling. I was LIVID.

My dad started pounding on the front door again, and I yelled something. I honestly can’t tell you what I said, although I believe it was two words. At least I think it was words. I remember as they came out, and I’m not joking here in the slightest, I did not recognize my own voice. It was like the voice of a stranger, a psychotic, berserk lunatic stranger, spilling out of my mouth. I opened the door and just started yelling. Again, I couldn’t tell you what I was yelling, but I think it was in English. English is what I was aiming for. It may have been Viking roars and caveman snarls for all I know. I remember ending the “conversation” by yelling “I got it!” at the top of my lungs, but at this point I have no idea what it was I got. Whatever it was, I apparently had got it loudly.

I tried to get back to sleep after slamming the door, but it was pointless. I decided that it would be a real shame to waste all this built up rage, so I vented it in a direction that would do me the most good: at my cell phone company. I think I actually bared my teeth and grinned like Jack Nicholson in Wolf when I realized their lines were open. Again, I really don’t remember everything I said during the conversation, but I can tell you that my cell phone service was restored five minutes after I got on the phone, and there are two underpaid service reps in India who apologized to me more times in those five minutes than everyone else in my entire life has ever apologized to me combined.

So I’m fucked up on less than four hours sleep. I’m still a little residually angry. And I still have to figure out what in the hell is wrong with that panic alarm. I actually may not be fit to be around other human beings today. Normally I love interacting with all of my loyal readers out there, but, seriously, for today, contact me at your own risk. I’m not quite human right now.

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