Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Break In

Yesterday I had a bit of a fright. I also had a bit of a break in here at the apartment while I was at home. Before you start freaking out and calling, I’m Ok and it may not have been quite as bad as I first feared.

I was sitting on the couch watching an all-new “Smallville” from season two. All of a sudden I heard the big, heavy main door downstairs slam shut. The door cannot be closed quietly and always slams. Normally it’s a nice happy noise that tells me that Hubby is home. But it was ten in the morning and Hubby was at a conference downtown. This was not a happy noise.

I inched toward the first floor door to see if had imaged the sound. Nope, not my imagination or a hangover: I heard voices on the other side of what now seemed like a rather flimsy wooden door. I heard them pass my door and head toward the second floor. Since our apartment is on both floors and we’re the only ones who live beyond the big, heavy door my worry factor started to rise.

I bravely (read: stupidly) threw the door open and called out, “Who are you and what are you doing here?” They held up some tools and talked to me in Hindi. “I don’t understand you. English! What are you doing here?”

I did need some work done upstairs but hadn’t yet called the landlord to advise him. I knew that Hubby hadn’t called Sharma, which meant that Sharma hadn’t sent these two men. Worse than that, they had keys to my apartment and could get in again whenever they chose.

I pressed into the hallway and repeated my questions, “Who are you? How did you get in here?” They pointed down the stairs at the front door and repeated something in Hindi again. “I don’t understand you. Please, how did you get in? You didn’t ring the doorbell!”

I think I must have been more intimidating to them than I thought because as they continued to blather on in Hindi they scampered down the hall and left. The fact that they knew how to maneuver our complicated lock mechanism downstairs was telling in and of itself. But at least they were gone.

I immediately called Sharma, the landlord’s Guy Friday, and told him what happened. “Who else has keys to my apartment?” I questioned in a vaguely hysterical voice.

Sharma is a stand up guy: he told me to sit tight and he was at my door in nothing flat. Like a police investigator, he had me walk him through what happened pausing only to have me clarify certain points. He asked me to describe the two men which actually led to the first funny moment of the ordeal when I tried to describe their age and build by comparing them to Sharma and his assistant. Luckily they were amused by my attempts not to offend and played along. It was really rather amusing.

Having summed up the salient points, Sharma turned to his assistant and declared that a new lock would be installed right away. He also arranged for temporary security measures while we waited for the new lock to be installed.

Before he left, Sharma also took care of the smaller issues I had around the house. He gently berated me for not bringing a few of them to his attention stating that whenever we needed help we were to ring him immediately. Handing me a schedule of when the maintenance issues would be handled he left promising that he would do everything in his power to make sure that we never had a “break in” again.

A few hours later, the bell rang again. I looked out the window to confirm who was there. Seeing Sharma wave at me I padded down the stairs to let him in. Like the detective I had mentally accused him of being, he flipped open a small notebook and smiled. “I found out what happened.”

It turns out that they were former servants who were scheduled to come in and change the filters every few months. Sharma then handed over the keys that these alleged former servants had used to get in the apartment. He assured me that the situation had been dealt with and that the gentlemen would never, ever be back.

So as you see, I only *kind* of had a break in.

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