When I woke up this morning my first thought was that I was going to have to call the garage to come and release the emergency brake on the Honda Fit. After I called the ambulance for Marsha at 0330, I went out to move the Fit so the ambulance could get all the way into the yard. And I couldn’t move the car. I couldn’t release the emergency brake.

You certainly know that this is why you shudder when a well-meaning friend offers to run your washing machine or dryer or chainsaw or any piece of equipment. No matter how intelligent they are, they manage to mess it up so your table saw or whatever never does run right afterward.

But Marsha says that there is a trick to releasing the handbrake – which I never use because park holds the car fast on a flat, smooth driveway. We are not parking on Munjoy Hill, where one might want to make assurance doubly sure.

Four hours later, the first thing I saw when I got out of bed for the second time was the telephone on the windowsill. I forgot to hang it up after calling 911.

You can imagine that I was crisp, clear comprehensive and brief. I know also that the call was certainly recorded.

You might remember my story about the robber who came in to the motel to rob the night desk. He met Aunt Sally, a retired librarian, who had to break out the manual and have him rob her by the rules. Being a librarian, she had no problem in telling him what to do, and before she had finished he begged to be able to leave.


Well, the girl taking our 911 calls nowadays is not in our town office. No. The chore has been farmed out to an agency in Massachusetts that has probably farmed out taking the calls to a company in Rockland.

So instead of being assured that they were speeding an ambulance my way, I had to spend what, to me, seemed like an endless five minutes answering all the questions for the standardized form.

How old is she? Well, I said that in my first breath, but she wasn’t listening. Is she conscious? Is she bleeding? Can she answer your questions? You must restrain your pets. Well, Polky’s bull is in the pasture, but even should he escape he is friendly. Turn on the front light. Are you living in a house or an apartment?

You can see that I was wondering why I didn’t call one of our neighbors for help. I suppose I didn’t, because I’d done it before and that can get old fast.

Some of the most terrifying words I’ve ever heard came from Marsha’s mouth as she sat there at 3:30 in the morning, helpless in the shower.

“Get me a damp cloth. The floor behind the toilet is filthy.” You might know that “filth” is a relative term. I hear it most every day when she looks at my pants, shirt or jacket.


Because I’m not one to drag out a short story as if I were selling it by the word to a newspaper, I will simply say that a tiny wisp of a girl carrying a clipboard with lots of paper on it and two boys who would each easily dress out at 225 showed up, lights flashing. I was out on the lawn wrestling with the car and saw them back in when they arrived; the girl and the smaller of the two boys quickly and without effort histed Marsha to her feet and were out of here.

We wasted no time getting back to bed.

This morning she is scampering about, big smile on her face, cleaning the house before the cleaning helper comes.

We are grateful to the ambulance crew and the good friend who locked up the emergency brake on the car. When I went out later in the morning to check the brake, it had freed up by itself. So we have no problem there.

It’s a good thing that it was Marsha who fell and not me, because if I were to drop I’d very likely break a bone. Should anyone now ask me if I have ever heard things go bump in the night I would have to confess that I have, but would be somewhat hesitant should they ask to see it.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:

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