At 5:00 am, an alarm broke my sleep. At first it was only a 10 second screech that broke the silence every ten minutes. I thought it was our downstairs neighbor who has an alarm system exactly like ours. Our battery was dead on our alarm, so pulling a pillow over my head, I rolled over and tried to fall asleep again. I still had three hours before having to get breakfast for guests that morning.
As the sandman was returning, the doorbell rang in one long continuous annoying shrill. Gathering my wits, I draped my robe around and went to the door. It was the next-door neighbor immediately yelling at me in Hungarian like I was comprehending each and every word he was spouting at me. It did not take a great deal of intuition to realize that he was complaining about the alarm, but I pointed downstairs and said the neighbor. “Nem, nem, nem” was the response and he pointed to our alarm box outside making the blood drain from my smug face down to my toes. I had no idea what to do. The alarm was here when we moved in and we had never done anything with it as far as maintenance.
As we were standing on the balcony jabbering bilingually and not comprehending monolingually, the rest of the neighbors on the floor gathered around. As if this gave others permission, the others from various other floors started coming out of their doors like the living dead or the sleepy dead. I had a sense of how Dr. Frankenstein felt when the town’s people come for the monster. The only thing this group was lacking were pitchforks and torches, most likely the latter due to the sun having risen an hour prior.
What to do; what to do; what to do? I know, call my Hungarian adopted nephew, but would he answer the phone at 5:30 in the morning? Being a good guy, he did. I explained the situation and then put him on the phone with the unruly mob to translate that I had no idea what to do with the alarm. With his mom, he found a repairperson, but in the meanwhile, the crowd decided to destroy our alarm box. At first, I had the idea to get a chair and start cutting wires, but my only tool to do this was a scissors. Images of turning into a firework display as I am flung over the balcony ran through my mind, but with this group growing thicker by the minute, I was suicide was a likely alternative. As I started in, my neighbor stopped me, but I could see the reluctance in his eyes at not having a good show. I think he was more concerned about sparks causing his bathrobe to catch fire more than my longevity. With everyone glaring at me like I had done this purposefully to destroy their dream states, another buttinsky came with wire cutters, pantomimed for a ladder, and got up and cut the wires. Relief lasted for five minutes when it started yet again. The collective ahhhhhh when it started again was disparaging. Back on the ladder, he took the box cover off and then snipped all of the wires in sight until there was silence.
At 6:45, the nephew called to say they found someone who would be here at 2:00 pm to fix the alarm. Hallelujah! 2:00 turned to 3:00 turned to 4:00 turned to 5:30 when the technician arrived following the nephew, his friend and the technicians girlfriend. As it turned out, all of this happened because the backup battery died and we did not replace it. However, with all of the damage done by the helpful co-habitants of the building, it took him longer to fix than it would normally. 10,000 Huf later, it was repaired and in working order once again.
How I was wishing Ron were home to deal with this, he is much more controlled in these situations than I am.