Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bearcat Bob

My husband, who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, spent several weeks in November cleaning out our garage. When you live in south Florida storage space is at a premium. "Stuff" somehow makes its way into the garage and condominiums begin sprouting in any and all unoccupied territory. Before you know it the garage has become a metropolis of wobbly towers and low rise complexes. Thus this cleaning was a major project requiring both soul searching and stamina. Not to mention the many lectures I endured regarding the classification of junk, clutter vs. keepsakes.

It was during this time that the "Bearcat Scanner" was uncovered. Originally belonging to my father it made it's way to Tennessee for a brief stint with Chris before migrating to the tropics. I have fond memories of my Dad spending his evenings sitting in his chair listening intently to the static fire calls and police chatter that constituted emergencies in our bustling town. (Perhaps bustling is one adjective too many but you get the drift.) However, that was long ago in a galaxy far far away and in the present the scanner does not work. It is broken. Its antenna has been severed and the tip is rusted. The little red lights still dance and blink merrily across it's face but the offensive static is silent. (I'm having a hard time seeing the problem with that.) It soon became the focus of Mr. Nameless to fix it, to restore this relic to its former glory and spend hours in "his" chair listening intently to the static fire calls and police chatter of our even busier island home.

Hours were spent researching the project. It turns out that the company who makes this electronic marvel exists no more. However he is nothing if not tenacious and somehow unearthed a die hard in Port Jervis, NY who actually locates and sells the little "crystals" that make the Bearcat hum. Excitement filled the air. Sadly when the new crystals arrived and were installed, the Bearcat remained stubbornly silent. "They must be the wrong crystals for southwest Florida" he stated. I was arm twisted into contacting the local PD in an effort to discern which frequency the local emergency departments hang out on. The news was not good. I didn't completely understand the techy jargon but the bottom line was that the new radio systems used by police and fire across the U.S. operate on technology far beyond the capabilities of the little Bearcat. End of story. I wish.

Mr. Nameless briefly changed his focus and began to research the latest and greatest in police scanners. Then promptly ordered himself one to be wrapped and placed under the tree on Christmas morning. But that was a mere distraction and soon his attention turned once more to the Bearcat. He located two on Ebay using the alias of "Bearcat Bob." (One must protect one's true identity when dealing in cyberspace.) He lost one to a higher bidder but secured the second one for $1.99 plus shipping. It cost him $13.25 to have the scanner shipped but it's Christmas, who's counting?

What are you going to do with two I asked? "Spare parts" he replied. "But why" I insisted. "Even if you get it working it still won't be capable of picking up anything. You are spending a lot of time fixing something that will remain useless. I don't understand." "It was your Dad's" he offered. "I want to restore it for him." (He is no fool. He knows that if he throws my Dad into the mix I will weaken.) I shook my head and walked away trying to make sense behind the reasoning of my once practical husband.

In the meantime Christmas morning arrived and the new scanner was unwrapped and powered up. There are no little lights dancing merrily across its face but it is sleek and the static is less offensive. There was a period of frustrated concern as we listened intently for four hours before the first Marco emergency unfolded on Christmas morning. And that had something to do with a barking dog. (We're in store for a lot of excitement in the weeks ahead.)

What happened to the Bearcats you ask? The last time I saw them they were sitting in a corner of the clean garage, a thin coating of dust already gathering on their box. The foundation for the next generation of condos waiting to inhabit our home.


jodi said...

You knew this would garner a response from me, right?! I got a little teary eyed when I saw that scanner. I had all but forgotten about it! It sat in its place on the desk, in the sitting room.
I miss Pap a little more this year, for some reason. Thanks for the memory!

Anonymous said...

This time of year is good for memories. It's hard to stop them coming. Most, however, are unsupported by actual, virtual objects. Well, maybe they are, it's just that most of us don't clean out our garages at Christmas time to find them!