Monday, November 30, 2009

When the Doorbell Rings In the Middle of the Night

It was an ungodly hour when the doorbell rang that was for sure. I had gone to bed Saturday night and had been very much asleep and dreaming when the ringing doorbell woke me up. Even though it has never been rung once in the middle of the night in all of the five years I have lived there, I instantly pegged it to some teenage kids running around way past their curfew. I don't know why. I never did that as a kid but I guess the teenager once controlling me would have found it a perfect prank. You ring the bell and high tail it out of there.

I was about ready to drift off to sleep but before I could, my mind shifted up to second gear. Perhaps my house was burning and a frantic neighbor was ringing the bell to wake anyone inside up before becoming a crispy creature. After all, I had done the same thing several years ago when I drove by a burning garage right next to a house. I finally looked at my clock and saw that it was 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, not the typical time for teenage pranksters to be out and about. That got me motivated to jump out of bed, throw on some sweats and head downstairs, smelling for smoke as I walked. I didn't smell any smoke and when I got to the front door, I could see that the front deck was empty so I could probably rule out the house fire. Never the less, I continued a circuit of the house but didn't see any fire or smell any smoke from the outside and it was still pitch black out all the windows meaning that the roof wasn't on fire.

Back in bed, my brain was still mulling over the teenage prankster theory when it hit third gear. Perhaps it was a burglar casing my house by ringing the doorbell to see if anyone was home before robbing it. Twice since I have moved into our house I have spotted tracks in the snow going around to the backside of the house and stopping at the sliding glass door before back tracking. One was right after I bought the place and I assumed it was a friend of the previous family used to going around back but the second time was last winter. After the first time I cut a stick to jam in the track so that any would be burglars would have to break down the door as opposed to easily jimmying the flimsy lock. I live in a small town were crime is virtually contained to a few people walking out of grocery stores or gas stations with unpaid goods. Breaking and entering is not a word I see in the police blotter. Still, despite all this, perhaps someone was looking for an easy score.

So I listened, from the warmth of my bed, listening for anything louder than a mouse fart that I couldn't identify. After a few minutes of that, I knew that I would quickly tire of it and besides, what was I going to do if I heard a window break in? Call 9-1-1 and hide under the bed? Ask them to politely leave and come back when I'm not trying to sleep? So I started looking out windows and saw that both the uphill and downhill neighbors had their lights on in front and behind their houses. I told my mind that this was definite proof of teenage pranksters at work and not burglars and went back to bed only too wide away to sleep now. So after rolling around a bit, I just gave up and said hello to Sunday a bit earlier than normal. If it happens again, my doorbell will no longer function. Ignorance is bliss or in this case, a sound night's sleep.


Vince said...

Not having your lights on might not have been the best of moves. The next doors might think you were the prankster, who in a fit of nostalgia was running round the 'hood ringing the bells.
But you are correct, when the door or the 'phone rings at an odd time there is that instant flash of profound terror. Not for oneself I hasten to add but for hearing that news.

Ed said...

Vince - Perhaps if I didn't know my neighbors well enough to know that they would never suspect me of doing something like that. A flaming bag of excrement perhaps but not just ringing the doorbell.

Murf said...

Breaking in via a sliding door seems to be a big thing. Maybe next time, forego the sweats and just run around naked. That should scare burgler and idiot teenage doorbell pusher alike. :-)

Thanks to Hooch, the doorbell was dismantled that first week I got him. It has only been over the past few years when a doorbell on TV hasn't set him off. Now, if only he would ease up on the UPS guy.

R. Sherman said...

For some reason, my comment disappeared.

In my neck of the words, you take your life into your own hands with those sorts of pranks. Of course, I live out in the weeds with only few people around.

(BTW, I once drew down on a doe which was eating my plum tree which was scratching against my dining room window. It sounded like someone trying to break in, which caused me to sneak around the back of the house in my boxers with a 9mm. Good times.)

geri said...

Still scary!

Sage said...

Interesting insights into your abbreviated night... I hope it was just kids. Last time that happened, it was the police with an exchange student of ours who was supposedly staying with a friend), was busted at a party at the friend's father's house (he was out of town).

Pablo said...

I had a friend who had a similar doorbell problem. She traced it down to faulty wiring in the bell box, causing it to ring randomly.

Ed said...

Murf - Every sliding door I have seen I could probably break into within a second or two with a small pry bar. That is why I have a fitted oak stop that sits in the track of mine to prevent just such a thing.

R. Sherman - If I owned a handgun, I would have drawn a bead on a beau of my neighbors daughter a couple years ago. I'm glad I don't.

Geri - Nothing gets the heart pumping like a good middle of the night scare.

Sage - I'm pretty sure now it was just kids. A few days after writing this post, I found a broken egg shell buried under some leaves on the edge of the sidewalk. It look suspiciously like an egg that had fallen out of the pocket of a running kid.

Pablo - I wonder if she questioned her sanity before discovering the problem. I would have.

Beau said...

Strange. Think it would be lights on for me, and we live far enough off the path that Randall's comment comes to mind. For now the dogs are our best alarm!