911 Call

Telephone Reciever on a Spiral Cord

The most absurd thing happened on Friday morning. I was minding my business and working from home when the doorbell rang…mine and several others. I assumed (bad idea) that it was either someone who lived in the building who forgot their front door key, or a delivery since I was expecting two packages.

Without using the intercom to identify, I simply buzzed door person in. I peeked my head out the door to hear if the (supposed delivery) person would announce himself and needed a signature. Looking down to the first floor, I heard that the person was knocking on someone’s door. OK, not for me, back to work.

But moments later, he was climbing stairs and pounding on other doors, screaming something I couldn’t understand. It sounded like an older large man who was wandering about drunk in our 3-fl., 6 apt. building, thinking either that he lived here and was figuring out where his wife was to open the door (he does not live here; I know all the 20 and 30-something tenants) or (worst case) he was wondering what door he could get into to carry out some sort of crime…a robbery? a murder? He sounded that violently charged and upset. I panicked and bolted my door. I was home alone in the building.

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I called my super; he was at work doing his real job. I was alone in the house with a strange crazy man and I was not taking any chances. I called 9-1-1.  The noise was loud and bizarre, and I needed protection. The 9-1-1 operator was trying the get information from me, none of which I could really say…I hadn’t seen him, was afraid to look out my peephole because what if he heard me move? The knocking and banging and yelling came to my door. The operator tried to keep me talking but I was scared silent. What was taking the police so long to get here? Man left my door, I answered her questions from my roommate’s room (she said to go there and look out the front to watch for the police).

The noise continued on other floors. Then he was back to mine. She asked if he was trying to tamper with the lock. “I don’t know,” I said in a panicked whisper. I had already been crying and shaking. And then there it was: the twisting and turning of the doorknob. I freaked out. “He is! When are they going to get here?” “They’re on their way,” she said. That’s what she had been saying for the last 15 minutes; I could be dead by now. I was frantically staring at the street from the window. I could not escape being on the top floor; I could not scream to all of the people on the street on this gorgeous day for help, for fear of making noise.

Man finally left my door again and went about on the other floors. I think he was on the first floor for the fourth time of floor-rotations when I saw two guys in plain clothes get out of a regular car with walkie-talkies…at that point, I was not afraid to walk to the buzzer and buzz them (even if they weren’t the officers)—or anyone else—in.

I heard them talking and one officer came up to talk to me while the other talked to the intruder. It turns out this guy was the fire inspector…he had his license on him for his job and everything…yet no uniform, walks with a cane (explains why he sounded drunk in movement), and barely speaks English. BUT DOES THAT EXPLAIN WHY HE WILLINGLY WALKED UP AND DOWN THE STAIRS FOUR TIMES IF NO ONE ANSWERED AND STAYED IN THE BUILDING FOR 30 MINUTES DOING THIS, YELLING AND BANGING AND TRYING KNOBS IF PEOPLE DON’T OPEN THEIR DOORS? WHY NOT LEAVE IF NO ONE ANSWERS THEIR DOOR? WHAT WITH THE BIZARRE BEHAVIOR?

So then, even more awkward, the cop asked, “I know he scared you, but do you mind if he checks your apartment for fire safety? I will stay here until he’s done.” (Why did I have to be home at this moment and not just be out of the house like everyone else? Why didn’t Mr. Crazy leave and organize a time with our landlord since he’s supposed to check every apartment? Cringe.) “Sure, I say, but I ripped out all of my smoke detectors besides one.” Officer chuckles.

Old crazy man comes in, looks at the ceiling, looks at the fire escape, and tells me to put the smoke detectors back in because it’s dangerous and if I don’t—not that he’s going to come back and check—I will have to pay a $500 fine. “Okay,” I said, “definitely,” even though I definitely won’t. Officer says “Wow, he’s not going to put them back in for you?” and laughs again.

The whole thing was just so ridiculous and I was not feeling humorous at this point, just embarrassed. I was a complete wreck, recovering from sobbing for the 1/2 hour I thought I’d be butchered, and still in my pj’s.  And now I looked like an idiot for being wrong on two accounts, calling 9-1-1 on the fire inspector and also having ripped out my smoke detectors.

The icing on the cake was the cop was hot too, although married (yes, I did the ring check).

But if anyone experienced the violent, incessant noise I did, while alone, I think they’d feel the same way. Since there were no other witnesses to report on the scary commotion though, I ended up looking like the crazy one to the four other people involved. They all probably joked about it to their coworkers and families as it may have been the most uneventful yet entertaining part of their respective workdays. Agony.

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