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Kirby: Passing along what I know

By Robert Kirby

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Aug 26 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Aug 29 2014 08:59 am

I got out of the rescue business years ago. When I quit being a cop, it was no longer my job to save people from themselves.

Nobody could call me out to get grandma off the john, a dog out of a manhole or a skunk from under their bed. That kind of rescue work was for public servants. I was in the private sector now.

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Private still included my family, but only until my daughters got married. Then I figured it was their husbands’ jobs to rescue them. Got a flat tire? Call Dallas or Kirt or Scott. Don’t call me. I’m retired.

Note: I still rescue my wife when she calls, or I’ll be the one needing rescue.

Several weeks ago, I was summoned to action again. The door swung open and my 8-year-old granddaughter Faith raced inside to report trouble.

Thanks to her current state of alarm and the fact that she suffers from ADHD, it was a true Lassie moment. While Faith careened off the walls and kept saying, "Um," and, "You know," I had to coax the problem out of her.

Me: "What is it, girl? Did Timmy fall down a well? Did the tractor roll over on grandpa?"

Her: "Papa, um, there’s this, you know, um, thing, ah, but it’s, wait, no, I mean … bark, bark, bark, bark!"

Because Faith has a history of being an alarmist, there was no cause for real worry. Besides, I was right in the middle of a Steve McQueen movie. And I had popcorn.

Then I got a text from my daughter across the street: "Lyndie is locked in the bathroom."

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Rescuing granddaughters is a whole different story. I’m always on duty for that. They come to me when their toys don’t work or they need batteries. I can pull slivers, glue broken stuff and offer to punch little boys who presume to chase them at school.

Also, thanks to police work, I’m pretty good with uncooperative doors. I put "Bullit" on pause and went to the rescue.

Across the street, the situation was dire. After taking a bath, Lyndie had wrapped a towel around herself and discovered that the doorknob wouldn’t work. By the time I arrived, she had already been trapped for 20 minutes.

Hollow-core interior doors are easy to open. Just remember to kick them close to the doorknob. Otherwise your entire leg will go through the door. People on the other side, including armed suspects, find this amusing.

I couldn’t boot this door, use a ram, shoot the lock or club the knob with a sledgehammer. My daughter wanted it intact. So I settled down to work.

But first I had to reassure my granddaughter that we would get her out. She had been trapped for a while now, and she was starting to get nervous.

Me: "Look around you. Is there anything you can use to construct a bomb?"

Lyndie: "Papa, I’m scared."

I ended up having to talk a 7-year-old through the mechanics of taking a lock apart. It took a while but she finally caught on. Screws, knobs, bolt and then a towel so no one would see her naked. And then she was free.

It was a great feeling to come to the rescue of someone I still care about. But then my daughter opened her big mouth.

"You do realize, don’t you, that you just gave your granddaughter her first lesson in becoming a burglar?"

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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