Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Confused Snow Shoveller

A pesky winter storm blew through last evening, littering our community with around 3 inches of snow. Dan made his way to work this morning, leaving the girls and I to play house. The day was unfolding rather uneventfully until the doorbell rang, shortly after two.

I had just gotten both girls to nap, and was settling onto the couch for a make up wink. Not expecting anyone, I opted to feign absence, hoping the stranger would leave. I had made the mistake twice of answering the door to find the same manipulative Jehovah Witness each time. I was not going to allow a lecture on my poor religious choices to interrupt a much needed snooze.

Then it rang again, followed shortly by a harsh rapping. Elvis began to bark. Seeing my fragile napping opportunity beginning to crack, I considered answering the door. Ok. This could be the police. Or girl scouts. MMM. Thin Mints. I reluctantly arose from the couch to see what was the matter. I peeked out the window, hoping to size up my visitor's intentions without his knowledge. He happened to be looking my way and smiled. Damn.

A wiry man stood on my doorstep. His clothes were layered and dirty. Chunks of grimy blond hair blew in the breeze, escaping the maroon hood. He appeared to not like his dentist or a razor. He looked strung out.

I cracked the door and asked how I could help him. He offered, for a small fee, to shovel my walk. I declined, citing that the warmer temperatures and rain forecasted tomorrow would probably do the trick. I really just wanted him off my doorstep. Where was his shovel?

He pleaded with me, and again, I apologized and declined. I shut the door and returned to the couch, and a much needed nap. I called Dan to tell him of our visitor. He tells me that I did the right thing. Pangs of guilt creep up. I should have let him shovel the walk and give him some money. Or food. He looks as if he needed it. I think back to all of the sermons I endured throughout my teenage years. Maybe I should have done the Christian thing and helped a fellow human being out.

Scarlett wakes up as soon as I lay down (Damn.) so I flip on the tv and feed her. Part way through (insert random procedural crime drama here) I hear a faint scraping sound. I pause the show and look out the window. The scary snow shoveller is back doing his thing to our walkway. At this point, I was a bit leary. I worried that he would shovel the walk and then demand the money. I hate confrontation. I also don't want this guy getting my door open or getting a good look inside. I call Dan, again. He tells me to call the cops immediately. I differ with him. I didn't want to call the cops on someone who is just doing something nice. I compromised and told him I would call the cops if he knocked on the door again.

I checked all of the locks. With everything locked up tightly, I perched on the sofa again, Scarlett in one arm and cell phone in hand. The scraping continued. Thoughts of serial killers, rapists, kidnappers and the ilk raced through my mind. I wished the scraping would just stop.

And it did.

I let out a breath and listened. Silence. Whew. He went away.


At that moment, my heart raced. I just wanted him to leave. I did not want to go to the door and risk him forcing his way into my home. I'm sure all of those nice people who did nice things for unbeknownst-to-them-at-the-time serial killers wished they were not so nice just that once. I'm sure they would tell you that if they were ALIVE. I made my choice. I flipped open the phone and dialed the three numbers I hoped I would never dial.


The dispatcher assured me that officers were on their way.


I hung up and squeezed Scarlett.



I carefully went to the window and ever so slightly lifted the one blind, not far, just enough to see if the predator was off of my stoop. He was. A moment of relief turned into panic. If he wasn't on my stoop, where was he? The backdoor? The basement? Climbing our rain gutter to get to the second floor?

After a few minutes, a gentler knock came to my door. I peeked out to see a police officer on my stoop. He asked to come in.

He then explained, with a smirk, the comedy of errors that transpired into my own private horror show. Our next door neighbor had agreed to the shoveller's offer. The shoveller went home to get his shovel and returned to fulfill his obligation. It seems he got confused as to which house had hired his services. The officer, still grinning, said they checked out the story with our neighbor and it was true. I apologized and explained my fear being home alone with two small children. He assured me, still smiling, that it was okay and bid me good day.

I am glad that it was a total misunderstanding. Even though, it was still incredibly frightening. I believe, even in retrospect, that I made the correct decision. Though I wanted to help a person so obviously in need, I needed to keep my family safe more. The unknown was just too great to overcome. It is unfortunate that the world has evolved to that point. It is unfortunate that my mindset has too.


Jamie said...

You did the right thing.

I know how you feel about wanting to help your fellow man out, but it's a scary world we live in and the saftey of your family comes first.

I can imagine how scared you felt, so glad you are all safe.

Christina said...

Hey, when you're home alone with children, you do what comes naturally to keep your children safe. Blame maternal instinct (and self-preservation) if you want, but sadly today we must always be careful.

I'd have been just as scared as you.

Laura said...

How scary!
Those maternal instincts are quite powerful. I can't blame you at all. I am sure he won't forget which driveway ever again!

So glad things turned out okay!

Karly said...

Sometimes its so scary being home alone with kiddies. I'll never forget the time a man came to my house wanting to CLEAN MY SHOES. My year old skechers. Crazy man. I told him no and sent him on his way and peeked out the window repeatedly for the rest of the day.

joel said...

A man tried to open the door of a couple's home. When the homeowner Mrs. Lynch confronted him, the man tried to persuade her to let him inside.

He said that he'd dropped his keys down the sewer and his pregnant wife was outside in the car and he needed help.

The homeowner slammed the door and called her husband. Her husband a cop for 23 years, drove home and spotted a man fitting his wife's description getting into a Volvo.

He called for backup and used a flashing light in his unmarked car to pull over the suspect and waited until backup arrived.

The cops discovered the Volvo was stolen and arrested Genovese and a woman in the car, Laurie Kernahan. Genovese and Kernahan were charged with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and criminal possession of burglary tools.

Genovese - who has more than 40 prior arrests for burglary, robbery, weapons possession and drug crimes - also was charged with possession of a stolen car. Cops were investigating whether he was responsible for a string of recent burglaries in the area.