I’m not a guy that gets easily rattled, in fact I like to think that I handle pressure situations very well and one who thinks quick on his feet. There are however two situations in pest control that unnerve me each and every time. The first is the little dog that you just know is going to bite you but you can’t kick the little buzzard in the head or anything because the little old lady who hasn’t written you your check yet is non stop baby talking to her wittle wuvy wumpkins–yes you are--Oh gag me, but all the while wumpkin aka Snowball is getting his 15th treat for the morning and mommies undying love, he’s eyeing you up for the perfect strike right there on your achilles heel. In 25 years I have yet to come up with a solution so please if you’re out there and you have the answer let me know!
The other situation is one that for the most part is completely controllable, I have the answers written on my service ticket and usually there are no dogs involved but for some reason when confronted I still get a pit in my stomach as fear strikes my heart and a small bead of sweat develops on my forehead. It’s over in 20 seconds if all goes well but one mistake and I could be there for an hour having to explain myself to the sheriff. I’ve dealt with it a thousand times and even in the same homes over and over for years yet I cannot control the automatic response my body unwilling gives in to every time. Today was a stark reminder of this deep seated deficiency in my DNA.
Whenever I see ‘key under mat’ and an alarm code on my route sheet I believe my subconscious is triggered and deep hidden fears begin to bubble up. Terrible thoughts of pushing the wrong button or not finding the key pad fill my head as I envision myself being tackled by a 250 pound police officer or God forbid they send in the K-9 squad. It wouldn’t be so bad I suppose but each alarm is different and some you have a minute to disarm while others are set for 30 seconds. The command buttons vary widely as well, after you put in your code you may need to push ‘away’ ‘disarm’ ‘off’ or nothing at all and I can only breathe easy if there is a green status light that comes on telling me the alarm has been neutralized. The worst alarms are the ones with that robotic but authoritative sounding woman who demands action and seems to know all the details.
SIDE DOOR OPEN-ALARM STATUS ACTIVE-ENTER CODE TO DEACTIVATE-DATE 2-26-2010-TIME 10:33-ALERT IN 45 SECONDS
Well today my fears all came true as I entered just such an account. The alarm was new & I hadn’t done this house in a long time but was filling in for the regular guy. Normally the alarm key pad is near the front door somewhere but you listen for the beeps and you get right to it. This alarm only beeped once and the dog was barking so I couldn’t get a read on where it was. The house was darkened and I thought I spotted it in the hall but that turned out to be the thermostat. I was already anxious going in but now I had wasted 10 or 15 seconds and time was running out and I started to panic. My robotic dream date wasn’t happy and she let me know I needed to find her.
ENTER CODE TO DEACTIVATE-SIDE DOOR OPEN-ALARM STATUS ACTIVE-DATE 2-26-2010-TIME 10:34-ALERT IN 30 SECONDS
The sound was coming from the kitchen and I found the Pandora’s box which was different than most I deal with and fumbled in my pocket for the precious code that would save me from what I just knew was going to happen next. The instructions were to just punch in the numbers and I did with what I figured was 5 or 6 seconds to spare. My female android friend was too quiet & there was nothing I could do except stand there & hope my sweet combination of button pushing soothed her electronic heart and she was satisfied and would allow me to stay. She was neither satisfied nor happy;
At that moment all my fears came true and the most God awful shrill of a noise came straight out of the walls, the ceiling and even the box itself. The sound pierced my body and I could feel my teeth rattle and if there were an earwig in my ears at the time he most surely would have died. I tried punching the code in several more times but to no avail as this cyborg from hell just kept screaming at me and never once stopping to catch her breath. Now I’ve done this before and I know the drill, after a minute or so the phone rings and it is the alarm company asking for your password and if you need help. I could be a smart allelic and tell her to send an ambulance because my ears are bleeding but no, I calmly say my name and spell it out and let her know I am there to do pest control. Sometimes they turn the alarm off and other times they let it blare but invariably I know I’ve got anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes to get the job done before the sheriff arrives and to avoid the K-9’s I always try to be outside when they arrive.
The officers are almost always nice and usually by the time they come my office or the alarm company has contacted the home owner and the sound from Beelzebub’s tomb has been put to rest. Neighbors suddenly appear on their lawns trimming an already pruned bush and stare at me over their shoulders and dogs from miles around are still sharing the news of the intruder near by. I show the sheriff my id, route sheet and even where the key is hidden but by this time they are chuckling and everything seems OK. They all do ask one question however and it must be something they learned in detective school. “So did you get anything interesting in there?” they say with one hand on their taser. I’m sure if I mention a stereo even in jest my nightmare will just get worse so I just mutter through my still shaking teeth “No sir I was just here to do their pest control.”
Later everyone at my office gets a laugh and the homeowner explains about the last button not pushed or the inverted numbers & ha ha ha silly me. Meanwhile I’ve been psychologically battered once again and my deepest fears are cemented ever deeper and if I had any professional counseling for my problem it would most assuredly have been destroyed by now. Life goes on though and the route must be completed so I head my truck across town toward my next job when I see those dreaded words once again on my sheet-
*Customer may not be there alarm code on ticket-dogs name is Snowball…..