Bella’s Got My Back

One of the challenges of running a start up that’s short on cash and requires space equivalent to an airport runway (literally) is that I’m not just the company President, but I’m also the guy that plows the runway when it snows.

On this particular occasional, my wife was in DC for business and I was home with the (then) three kids. In this case Kerry had left for her trip on Thursday and she planned to spend some quality time with her sister over the weekend. Quality time typically means running to the store for toilet paper, milk and other staples that somehow never make it onto her sister’s grocery list….particularly when company comes to visit. But I digress.

So this particular weekend we saw some pretty significant snow on Friday afternoon and I knew that I had to spend at least six hours plowing the next morning. Driving a plow truck is not particularly exciting for the driver, now take into consideration that I had to cart three children under the age of six with me. Oh, and when I said driving a plow truck wasn’t that exciting…I meant typical plow truck duty…driveways, maybe a few small parking lots…even a road or two. No, that’s not what I was doing. I was taking my kids to an airport where I would proceed to drive back and forth on a 1/2 mile x 200' wide runway for hours and hours and hours. Yeah, this was going to be a blast for everyone.

As the snow fall was coming to an end, I was inside putting the kids to sleep. The baby had been down for a while and the other two where quiet so I started packing for the adventure. DVD player, check! Three Pixar movies (God bless those people), check! Snacks, diapers, etc. Sometime around 9:30pm I figured I should go outside and shovel my own driveway so that I did not need to deal with it in the morning. Yes, I said shovel. See the funny thing is, at the time we lived in a house with one of those driveways that was just barely large enough for us to park two cars. As a result, I had this big fancy BOSS V-Plow and I generally shoveled us out. Again, I digress.

So an hour later I’m putting the finishing touches in front of the mailbox and I start walking back towards the house. First, let me make it clear that I stuck my head in the door every 20 minutes or so just to make sure that nobody was crying, the refrigerator didn’t spontaneously combust or a toilet wasn’t overflowing from the 2nd floor to the basement. There I go…digressing…

I’m walking back towards the house and this four door sedan pulls up at the end of my driveway and does one of those half-honks to get my attention. Just about the time I get close enough to recognize that it’s an unmarked police car, the driver asks “Do you know which house is number five?”

A bit confused I answer, “Yeah…right here.”

“Any chance you might have a few young kids inside the house?” replied the officer.

Without answering the questions I spun around and uncharacteristically bolted up the stairs and into the entryway. The scene inside will be burned into my memory eternally. My daughter Bella was climbing off the kitchen step ladder and carefully placing the phone on the floor. Bella, and my son Jake, came running up to me and gave me a big hug. “Dad, where did you go? We couldn’t find you.” she explained.

I gave them both a hug, explained that I had been just outside and asked if they were ok. Bella proceeded to explain how she woke up and went looking in my bedroom, but couldn’t find me. She checked the other upstairs rooms and then woke up Jake. They started a search grid that I can only assume was something like a swat team clearing a small building. They checked the second floor, the first floor and the basement before they agreed that I had abandoned them.

As I went into the kitchen to hang up the now disconnected call to 911, Jake explained that he just wanted to go back to bed and Bella “made him” search the house for me. Bella also added that the people at 911 “asked a lot of questions.”

We sat in the living room a few more minutes and I heard stories about being in the basement alone for the first time, finding light switches, etc. Then I took them up to bed and tucked them in asking just one thing in return. “Next time you go looking for mom or dad, would you please just glance out the window before you call the police.”

I’ve told this story a few times and inevitably people ask if I was mad at Bella, if she got in trouble, etc. My answer…at five years old she wasn’t afraid to call the police because her dad had gone missing. I wish I had pursued purchasing the 911 tape from the town, but I suspect it was a very calm, cool & collected Bella telling them that her dad had gone missing and she believed calling 911 was the appropriate thing to do under the circumstances. How can you possibly see fault in this thinking. On the contrary, I was delighted to know that she had no fears in making that call and comforted to know that she had my back if we ever did need to summon help for a medical emergency or cat stuck in a tree!

Oh yeah, no visit from the Department of Social Services the following week, the police officer never got out of his car and second only to that 911 tape is my wish that I had taped myself calling Kerry to tell her the story at 11:30pm.