Everyone was still munching on food when I jumped to my feet and examined the room. Tammie glanced up at me and quipped, “Oh-oh, look out! Mom’s got THAT look. She’s ready to get down to work.” Niki had provided cheese, crackers and dip shortly after we’d arrived at Tammie’s third floor apartment. Having spent the last three hours cooped up in the van traveling, her eight children were hungry and restless.
Frowning, I pointed out, “You have a lot to pack before moving on Saturday! Let’s get this job done as quickly as possible. We have hotel rooms reserved and a pool to play in. Plus, we left our luggage in the van. I’d feel better if it was safely at the hotel.”
I began sorting and packing craft boxes, cleaning supplies and trip souvenirs. My daughters immediately fell to work at my side. Unable to help because of tight quarters, my eighteen-year-old granddaughter Anne, decided to take her sixteen-year-old brother Jon to the Mall of America. Shortly after they left, one of the other children complained, “Blaise stinks. He needs a diaper change!”
Niki said, “I left the diapers in the van. I’ll run down and get them.”
I glanced out the window at Niki’s vehicle parked across the street. Someone crouched behind it. Alarmed, I asked, “Tammie, what’s going on down there? Someone’s hiding behind the van!”
Tammie replied, “I’ll go down and see.” A few minutes later I saw her starting to cross the street. The man behind the van motioned for her to go back into the apartment building. When my daughter returned to the third floor apartment she exclaimed, “The man behind the van is a policeman. He had his gun out! He asked where I lived and I told him on the third floor. He said, ‘Go back to your apartment. You should be safe there.’ Mom, the streets around us are all blocked off by police cars!”
Glancing out the window, I saw a uniformed officer running toward the van with a rifle in his hands. I exclaimed, “Holy smokes! Did you see that? Niki, if there’s a shoot-out down there, your van is going to be riddled with bullets.”
We were unable to leave, to get what we needed from the van or to discover why the police were there. With nothing else to do, we doubled down on packing and cleaning. Blaise’s diaper was leaking, so Niki took it off and let him go au naturale. She called Anne and Jon at the Mall of America and told them they couldn’t come back until the stand-off was over.
After three hours the children complained that they were hungry. There was plenty of cheese leftover from the snack we had earlier, so everyone satisfied their growling bellies. While we snacked, Tammie started researching with her phone. After a few minutes she said, “Apparently there was a domestic abuse incident in the apartment building next to mine and it’s turned into a hostage situation.”
Looking out the window, I exclaimed, “The swat team is here! They’ve just pulled up in an armored vehicle.” A second heavy police truck pulled up. Daylight was quickly fading to dusk. The flashing blue and red lights on the police vehicles reflected in the windows of homes along the street, multiplying the sense of trouble and danger.
By seven that evening, everyone was hungry once again. This time, bits of cheese wouldn’t satisfy us. Tammie volunteered, “I think I have two boxes of macaroni and cheese that I packed in one of these boxes.” She searched and quickly found them and a kettle.
Playing games on a lap top had kept the children from feeling too restless all afternoon, but even that was growing old. Problems in the one-bedroom apartment began to pop up. I strained my back. The internet stopped working. Blaise wet the floor, then the toilet plugged and needed plunging.
Anne and Jon called from the Mall of America. They were tired and Jon had a headache. Tammie called and persuaded the hotel to check them in despite the rest of us being detained. I thought, “At least someone gets to enjoy our hotel reservation!”
Just as quietly as the police had begun the stand-off, it ended. At nine o’clock, the police vehicles all began to pull away. Fifteen minutes later we were given the “go ahead” to leave the apartment.
Few moves go smoothly, but starting the weekend in the middle of a police stand-off set the tone for the next two days. Unusual circumstances doubled the time it took to finish signing for the house. GPS troubles delayed the movers by three hours. Tammie’s Carla-Cat was accidentally locked in a closet overnight. This was a moving experience none of us would soon forget!