Color me paranoid but ready for a good night’s sleep
I was “High,” my wife was “Guarded,” and there was a cop in our front yard.In the spirit of those color-coded terror alerts created by homeland security director Tom Ridge, my mate and I have instituted our own homeland security operation with the emphasis on “home.”According to the color coded system, there are five levels of federally sanctioned paranoia. They are: Green/Low, Blue/Guarded, Yellow/Elevated, Orange/High, Red/Severe, Black/Kiss your butt goodbye. (The last one I just made up.) Since these alerts were created with our tax dollars, we decided to use them in our own security operation. We seldom leave the mountains or travel to any high-risk places so we are less worried about an attack from foreign terrorists as we are with more local and immediate threats.For most of the summer, we have been on Blue status. Blue is a general risk of attack. Our biggest fear was our neighbor Mike’s dogs pooping in our garden. Knowing that it is better to be safe than sorry, I kept an eye out for the offending curs and I bought a Super Soaker.After having a very satisfactory meeting with the dog’s owner who promised to keep his animals contained, we dropped back to Green. When we heard tales of car break-ins in a surrounding neighborhood, we discussed elevating our color-coded alerts. It seems that the crime only occurred in unlocked cars with stuff visible on the front seats. My mate urged caution. She reasoned that since the crimes were still a few blocks away and the election wasn’t until November, we could elevate up only one level to Blue and hope for the best.It wasn’t long before we heard tales of the break-ins getting closer to our street; then one happened right next door. Our neighbor left her boyfriend’s favorite Kenny G compact disc on her front seat and it turned up missing. So, it seemed we had a late-night thief with bad taste in music. Without consulting my mate, I immediately left Blue, bypassed Yellow and went into High alert. I loaded up the Super Soaker and purchased motion-detector lighting equipped with two 200-watt halogen bulbs. Now when anything moves within 50 feet of our home, 400 watts of blinding brightness floods our property. I’ve taken to wearing sunscreen even at night. The only problem is that the lighting usually kicks in as soon as you enter our driveway. The first evening we had it, I returned home late, motored in toward the house, got blinded by a flash of laser-bright lights and drove into my garage door.Unfortunately, while I was installing security lights and patrolling the perimeter for thieves and dogs with lose bowels, my mate was hiking, biking and running. She had no idea I had upped the paranoia level. So, while I was operating on High, she was still only on “Guarded.” According to her, when the alert is “Guarded” it is OK to leave your car unlocked, windows open, with a $20 bill on the dash board. That is exactly what she did.The chain of events, the best I can figure, went as follows. Since, in my mind, the alert was High, at 9 p.m. I drank a pot of coffee and positioned myself at the upstairs window, Super Soaker locked and loaded. At 9:25 p.m., I feel asleep. Sometime between 9:25 p.m. and 7 a.m., someone approached our house, activated the security lights, which illuminated the $20 bill on the dash board and the open windows. The thief then reached in, took the money, and left.I was almost embarrassed to call the cops the next morning. But I reasoned that if we reported the crime, it would give the authorities yet another reason for extra scrutiny in our neighborhood. To my surprise, an officer was outside my door only a few minutes after I hung up. When he started looking through the vehicles for clues, I became alarmed.I was afraid the criminal might have taken the $20 and left something illegal in its place. Then I might be blamed for a crook’s bad habits. Other than a few Twinkie wrappers and a quarter ounce of muffin crumbs, there was no evidence to be found. But I must say, the policeman was efficient and thorough. The only uncomfortable moment was when my mate offered her opinion that the thief must have really needed the money or he wouldn’t have stolen it. The officer did not see it that way.Since that night, we leave the lights on 24/7 and lock our cars and home. Two nights ago, the thief returned and left the Kenny G compact disc on my hood. If I catch him, I’m pressing charges …Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of “Biff America” can be seen on RSN television, heard on KOA radio and read in several mountain publications. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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