MAUREEN’S MOMENT: Colin Nichol

My next-door neighbour alerted me first although the others who made up the small community in our quiet cul-de-sac were already a noisy gathering close by.

“Maureen has fallen and can’t get up and she’s locked herself in.” That didn’t make sense, surely she locked herself in and then fell, but it was no time for pedanticism; I had been called on to “come to the rescue”. Why me? Well, those who had gathered were elderly and mostly women and I was younger and had a reputation as a local Mr Fixit.

There she was, still cheerful and joking about her predicament, my neighbour-but-one Maureen, sitting in the middle of her living room floor and too old and unwell to get herself up. Her front door was open and we could see her well enough, fully visible through the screen door, but that was firmly locked and doing its security duty. Half an hour went by while we debated options. Back door? Also locked. Break a window, break the door? Too drastic, surely. Call the strata management team? Well, it was a Sunday. Ideas were traded while the crowd grew.

The situation took on more urgency, Maureen was getting very uncomfortable in more ways than one. Nothing for it I told myself, call Fire and Emergency Services.

They were delighted to hear from me, it was a quiet day and they wanted action and enthusiastically demonstrated that. We could hear them coming from kilometres away, a full contingent with sirens blaring. Not just rescue, but fire and paramedics. By the time they arrived, they had a large, appreciative audience.

A quick assessment of the situation and they acted in a flash. One very tall young officer shot up a ladder he and colleagues placed against the side of her unit and was on the roof to a carefully selected spot. Up came a few tiles and he disappeared.

Maureen told her view of the rescue afterwards: “All of a sudden, the manhole in the ceiling opened and this man’s big boots appeared. Then the rest of him followed, slowly. And he just kept coming – he’s so tall – and good-looking. A man like that can drop in any time he likes.”

© Colin Nichol 2021

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