Spy in the Sky

By Linda O’Connell

Although we live in a safe, suburban neighborhood, my husband Bill had been toying with the idea of installing a home security camera system. Coincidentally, twenty-five-year-old grandson Kyle, who owns his own business, was ready to replace his old system.

“Gramps, if you want to take over my service contract, you can have my old cameras.”

We would have assumed the contract if Kyle could have remembered his password. He had an in-office live feed, so no need to input a password each time. That kid tried every possible numerical and letter combination. He tried old girlfriends’ names, numbers, pet names, sports teams and acronyms, all to no avail. The security company refused to release Kyle’s own password to him. His four cameras were destined for the trash unless Bill wanted them. Yes! Gadget Man definitely wanted them.

Doctors ordered Bill to stay off all ladders. Do men listen? I caught him five rungs high on the carport.

“What ARE you doing on the ladder with all that wire?”

He leaned more than an arm’s length to his right to pound another nail. “Don’t worry. I’m taking care of your safety,” he claimed while disregarding his own. “If someone comes near here, this will scare them away. I’m mounting Kyle’s old motion cameras.”

“Well dismount! Get down.”

“Honey, look, intruders won’t even know they’re being observed,” the big guy bragged.

The white, snowball-size cameras – not to mention the fifty foot maze of white electrical wire that snaked around the carport ceiling – were visible to any trespasser. How could anyone not know they were being observed? Flood lights illuminate our front door every time the red bud tree rustles. The motion light outside our bedroom window is triggered by moths playing tag. When the garden is ripe for tomato picking, critters visit all day and into the sunny-bright nights. Our little ranch home and yard are so well-lit our neighbors have bought room darkening drapes.

“So, how will we catch a crook?” I asked.

“Since we can’t transfer Kyle’s service contract, I’ve rigged a system up in our bedroom. All you have to do to view everything in real time, on a four split screen, is flick off Netflix and tune to…”

Not my Netflix favorite shows! I tuned him out. Technology is too complicated anyway.

I left him to his big boy toys and went indoors shaking my head. As I stripped the bed I literally stumbled upon the recording device and gadgets on the floor that my honey had rigged between the bed and dresser.

Proud as a producer, Bill came in and tried to demonstrate the results of “lights, camera, action.”

“The only problem is, there’s no recorded tape to view later, but if a light comes on outdoors you can see what’s happening. All you have to do is flick off Netflix, tune into channel…”

Not my Netflix! “Forget it! I’m not interested in catching thieving groundhogs, opossums or raccoons.” I said.

Kyle called a week after installing his new security system. “Gramps, my new cameras captured a thief’s every movement, sent a message to me, and then stored the images. I viewed the tape remotely, and the cops were at my business in a heartbeat.”

“How much did your new system cost? Yeah? I’ve been thinking about an upgrade.” Bill walked out of the room speaking softer than usual, but I heard every word. “On sale? Today?”

Instant gratification was the incentive for my guy to buy. Bill mounted the ladder again and selected the intended locations for his four new replacement motion detecting cameras. This time he reasoned things out. He purchased battery operated cameras that were dark as night and almost undetectable.

My honey assured me there would be no more TV interruptions in order to catch a thief. All I had to do was tap the app on my cell phone to view any activity. Movement would be indicated by a particular tone, or I should say drone.

Every time he took the trash out, I heard the alarm. It was not a pleasant ping, but a loud “bong.” When I walked to the mailbox, my cell phone bing-bonged; all day, all evening, and all night my phone sounded like the old Gong Show.

The sap sucking hummingbirds flitted from sun up until sun down. Then a storm blew in, whipped up a frenzy, and triggered all four cameras simultaneously. It was like ding-dong-ditch. Finally, Bill decided to temporarily disarm the cameras.

“How about I turn them off while we’re at home, and then I’ll turn them back on at night, or if we leave home? We can always view and access them remotely.”

I could live with that. Later that evening, I headed to the basement laundry room to do hand washables. While I was at it, I thought I might as well rinse the silky blouse I was wearing. I unbuttoned it, slipped it off. Then I decided to launder my lingerie. When I unsnapped my bra, BONG! I frantically rubber-necked searching for where the sound was coming from.

Bill shouted from the kitchen, “You won’t believe where the cat is. He’s in the basement on my work bench.”

My “girls” were hanging low, when I realized Bill had mounted a fifth camera in the basement to monitor Sassy Cat’s activity. I covered my chest and made a beeline upstairs for my robe. As I entered the bedroom to close the blinds, the back yard lit up like high noon, spotlighted me inside, and a rabbit outside. I ducked.

“I cannot do this anymore! This is like living on the TV show, Big Brother! Erase that tape. I mean it. Delete it. Now!”

“Aw honey, don’t worry. Nobody can see you. It’s all technology. Our videos go to cloud for seven days, and then they’re automatically deleted.”

Admittedly, modern technology is not my friend. An entire week I looked to the sky wondering which cloud was featuring my boobs.

About this writer

  • Linda O’Connell

    Linda O’Connell

    A preschool teacher for almost four decades, is notorious for holding her life together with duct tape and humor. Her greatest loves are family, the beach and dark chocolate.

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6 Responses to “Spy in the Sky”

  1. Erika Hoffman says:

    Linda:
    You’ve illustrated a universal truth: Men like gadgets, ladders, and home improvement paraphernalia in general. Women like potted plants, candles, potpourri and ephemeral stuff, in general. And the twain see eye-to-eye ever so once -in-a-while! Very funny essay!

  2. Pat Wahler says:

    What a funny story, Linda! And so true in today’s capture-everything-on-video world.

  3. That’s a selfie of a different sort!

  4. Linda–It’s good you and Bill have a great sense of humor. This story made me chuckle.

  5. Val says:

    Oh, so that was YOU I saw on the internet…

    If you could have spared both hands for a top hat and cane, you could have done that Looney Tunes talking frog dance when the spotlight hit you! “Hello, my baby, hello, my honey…”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsROL4Kf8QY

  6. Connie says:

    Hahaha! So funny. That’s definitely a spotlight I wouldn’t want to be in.

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