There’s been a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood directly south of mine – a neighborhood everyone damned well knows has a higher median income than this one (sometimes it’s nice when relative poverty spares you from crime instead of making you a victim of it). Police have told folks in the area that the burglars occasionally break in when people are home, but their MO seems to be knocking on doors during the day to see if anyone is there, then targeting those which seem unoccupied for break-ins before 6pm. So we’ve been advised, if we hear a knock, to not open the door. Rather, we’re told to yell at the knocker that we’re not interested and they should leave or we’ll call 911. At which point, apparently, the cops will take their sweet time getting there, but before which they will patrol simply by driving by and never actually getting out of their cruisers.
I’m home today, for the second day, because my back is on strike again. Last night as I lay in bed, I thought about how much it would suck to deal with a break-in while also dealing with back spasm and nerve pain. Clearly the sound of the crime’s initiation would startle me, which would send shockwaves of electric agony through my body and render me virtually unable to fight. And also I’d have a busted front door and substantially less spending power, since these folks seem to be snatching checkbooks and purses rather than high-end stuff.
About an hour ago, someone knocked on my door. I shuffled my bent self over, with my ribcage rotated and shifted about 15 degrees to starboard and my hips rotated about 15 degrees aft, and peered through a space between the door’s built-in blinds. A man in a tie with a messenger bag crossing his torso and a brochure in his hand stood on my front step.
“I’m not interested,” I intoned.
He didn’t move.
“I’m not interested!” I yelled louder. “Please leave!”
He looked up and down the street, then stepped up and knocked again. He has to hear me, I thought. I hear everything on the sidewalk… how can he not hear me?
This time I put my face an inch from the glass and yelled as loud as my back would allow, “I’M NOT INTERESTED! LEAVE!”
He wished me a nice day and abandoned my steps.
It struck me as I shuffled back toward the kitchen: I had stutter-stepped all slumped and twisted, hair uncombed because I’d just gotten out of the shower, wearing a mismatched casual knit skirt and a t-shirt from my sister’s church, toward a knocking caller at my door, and hollered at him to go away in the middle of the day.
I am an old woman today.
“With a cat!” my dear friend Joey reminded me via text when I relayed the story to him.
“Oh hell. I forgot about the cat,” I replied.
Honestly, though? As I made my way at turtle speed toward the door to shoo off the visitor, my greater concern was not of premature infirmity or criminal activity. It was that I would actually know the person at the door and therefore feel the need to open it looking like I did.
Yep. That would have been worse. As Robert Louis Stevenson once said: “Vanity dies hard; in some cases, it outlives the man.”
Which reminds me, I was lying in bed this morning trying to think of what I’d like to be buried in and how I’d want them to do my hair.
I know. I’m a pretty sick ticket.
Anyway, if my house does get burglarized, despite the alarm and the conscientious neighbors, don’t worry. Since these punks seem to just want quick access to cash, I’ll probably just lie here and watch them, occasionally grunting in pain, and I’ll still have my laptop to tell you all about it.
Now on my bookshelf: A Visit From the Goon Squad