We Are Alarmed

Our new house is already equipped with an alarm system. All we had to do when we moved in was enlist a company to monitor it. And of course, there are loads to choose from.

Once you book the company, you have to decide what features you want. Just the simple landline monitoring? That would be fine, one company sales rep explained to me: but what happens if someone cuts your phone line?

Of course, I hadn’t thought of that. I had lived in London for eight years, and New York City, for about 25 years, without ever having any sort of alarm system. Granted, I lived in buildings with doormen. And I suppose a house is easier to break into than an apartment in a big building.

Alarming signsJudging from the signs outside the houses on our new street, everyone has one. So, in my effort to be safe, and fit in, there I was, listening to a convincing sales pitch.

The rep explained to me that I needed a hostage code. If someone breaks in, then puts a gun to my head, asking me to disable the alarm, there is a special code I can type in to indicate to the alarm company that, while the alarm should stay silent, the police should still come.

That is, of course, if the gunman hasn’t cut our phone line. If he has, we are out of luck — unless we sign up for radio monitoring, available for an additional charge.

How clever, I thought, and also, how terrifying. We didn’t even get started on panic rooms.

Maybe we could get away with just having a sign….

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