Friday, August 11, 2006
It’s another one of those days in which I have nothing to write about. So, as the exercise goes, if you type… Something should come out.
I could write about a funny story and probably one of the funniest moments of my life. Okay, I’ve twisted my own arm and I shall tell you this story…
I’m thinking that is was somewhere around 1987 when this happened. I was dating a woman and sort of half living with her. She worked overnights at Rock 92. I was working at Peaches Music & Video on High Point Road here in Greensboro. I had given up the notion of becoming a rock star and decided to become a manager there at the record store. The hours were the typical retail variety where I didn’t have a set schedule. One day I would be opening at 9am and get off at 6pm. The next day I would close, going in at 1pm and closing, hopefully before eleven. Once a month, I would have a weekend off. It was a fair trade because I pretty much got whatever promos albums and CD’s that fell through the cracks and concert tickets. I felt like I was in beautiful green pastures.
On the days where I went to work in the afternoons, it wasn’t uncommon to find me out late at night. I would hit a club and check out a band or I was hanging with Melanie (my girlfriend) into the wee hours of the morning at the radio station. Sleep has never really been a big priority of mine because I’ll have plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead. The only time sleep matters is when I have a big day ahead of me.
I had spent most of the night hanging out with Melanie until at least 4am. That put me into bed around 4:30am. Instead of crashing at her house, I went home to get fresh clean clothes when I got up and readied myself for work later that afternoon. Sometime in the 8am hour, the phone started ringing. The phone in my parent’s room had the answering machine so I could easily find out who’s calling by listening to the message left. If it were important, I would pick up the extension in my room.
They didn’t leave a message and I turned my attention to getting some more Z’s. And just as I had fallen back to sleep, the phone rang again. I let the machine get it and once again, no one had left a message. I got up, let the dog outside, and stayed by the phone in case it rang again. Ten or fifteen minutes had passed by and no one called. I went back to bed.
Wouldn’t you know it? The damn phone started ringing again and waking me! I didn’t pick up my extension because I was determined that someone would leave a stinkin’ message! They didn’t.
At that point, I couldn’t go to sleep anymore. I hastily got out of bed, started to read the newspaper, and waited by that damn phone. No one called, so I started calling other’s to find out who could have been annoying me this morning. I called Melanie and woke her from her bed… It wasn’t her. I called my sister Pam at work and it wasn’t her. I called my mother at work and it wasn’t her. I couldn’t call my father because he was out patrolling the county as a deputy sheriff. My sister Tina was attending classes at UNC-G so I knew she wasn’t calling. And besides, everyone I knew would have been courteous enough to leave a message. Even Tracy Thornton would leave a message.
With no one calling, I hit the shower and prepared myself for work a little earlier than usual. Once I was in the shower, I could hear the phone start ringing once again. This time, the calls came one after the other. It was like a call center with only one phone line. The ringing never let up, but I didn’t care. They could screw with me all they wanted.
When I dried off and put on my clothes, I checked the answering machine. There were no messages left by whoever was toying with me. The phone was silent and I went on about my daily business of drying my massive amounts of hair. It reached my waist and took roughly 45 minutes to an hour to completely dry.
As I toweled my hair again, I heard the back door open. I couldn’t hear the dog and I really started to panic when I heard two sets of feet moving as quietly and cautiously as possible. I had a hair dryer in one hand, a hairbrush in the other, and a towel around my neck as I heard a gun being cocked. I looked around for a weapon and came up with nothing. The only other option was hitting the window for a drop of ten feet. It was no joke, my testicles drew in tight and close to my body because they knew that I was in for some trouble.
And just when I was about to put some kind of plan into action, I heard my father yell out “Eugene?!”
“Yeah?!” I yelled in return.
I could still hear approaching footsteps of two people. My father’s voice was closer when he yelled out a question… “Eugene, are you alone?!”
Puzzled, I said, “Yes. Why?”
My father stepped around the doorframe with his gun still drawn and searching out the bathroom around me. He was still cautious about the rest of the house and he holstered his .38 and said, “I’ll let this man explain it to you.”
A city police officer stepped up and told me that they were called because of some kind of kidnapping and hostage situation.
“What?” I asked as my father came back to the bathroom after seeing everything was okay in his house.
“We got a call about the Sims’ being held hostage, the perp told the caller to have a helicopter waiting at the airport…” he told us both.
My dad and I looked at each other with great big question marks on our faces until the policeman said, “…and a free set of steak knives.”
It hit me… “Oh my God, the answering machine! The answering machine!”
My father’s head dropped. He knew that I had been putting funny little outgoing messages on the answering machine. The policeman and my father got on their perspective radios and told the rest of the law enforcement officers that they could stand down.
I had no idea what was going on outside. My sister Tina told me a few months ago that she and our friend Beth Wilson were dropping by the house and the police closed the road we live on. They saw sharpshooters finding coverage behind trees and those Bellsouth junctions that stick out of the ground like a post. Members of the Greensboro Police Department and the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department surrounded the block.
Beth and my sister were worried about what was going on. They had no idea that the outgoing message on our family answering machine message was causing all the fuss. They were scared because they had never seen anything like this before unless it was on television.
I remember walking outside to get something from my car or the mailbox and counting 6 police vehicles around the parts of the block that I could see. I had no idea that Beth and Tina had witnessed the whole thing going down.
As it turned out, some recruiter from Brookstone College had called our house to talk with my sister Tina. They heard the outgoing message and couldn’t believe their ears. They called again to verify it. Then they kept calling with other coworkers and bosses listening in. And none of the people could find the humor in my little outgoing message, so they decided to call the police. Funny thing is, the outgoing message told the caller NOT to call the police.
My father had gathered several police officers around our answering machine to listen to the outgoing message. Every one of them laughed heartily as they heard the punch line. My father still has the tape somewhere, but has forgotten where he has put it. It may show up someday.
The message went like this…. (gruff deep voice) “Hello. This is Sims’ answering machine. They are a little tied up right now. These are my demands… Don’t call the police. I want a fueled helicopter waiting for me at the airport and a free set of steak knives. Remember, do not call the police. Please leave a message cause I’ll make sure they GET it”.