So, about two weeks ago (June 16, to be exact), I was sitting here at the kitchen table doing what I usually do in the mornings. For whatever reason, I was running behind, meaning, it was 10:00 or so and I was still messing around with this and that. It was pouring down rain (I think I might have been blogging about rain and random stuff). The doorbell rang. Frankly, I don't usually answer the door. I mean, chances are, it's not going to be anyone I really care to talk to. For whatever reason, though, I got up and answered the door this time.
A neatly dressed African American man was standing on the doorstep. He smiled politely at me and told me that he was one of my neighbors and that he'd foolishly locked his keys in his car, as well as his cell phone and wallet. He was wondering if he could use my phone to call his wife.
I said sure; told him I was going to go get my cell phone, and shut the door. When I came back out (and I stepped outside onto the doorstep with him), he called a number, waited a bit, then shook his head ruefully and said, "She must already be in the air. She's a flight attendant with Delta". I said, "Oh, sorry! We chatted a bit longer with him saying various things about the neighbors. I apologized for being a bit suspicious but told him there had been a robbery at the dollar store at the nearby shopping center and I'd just been reading about how the suspect was running around our neighborhood the day before. "You just have to be careful", I said, to which he nodded, agreeing with me. After a few more pleasantries, he said, "Well, I think I'll see if Mike around the corner is home, he sometimes goes into work late".
I told Mr. B about it and said, "I didn't really recognize him but he sure seemed to know everyone in the neighborhood".
Yesterday I was flipping through the local section of the paper and my eye caught on a picture of a man. The very same man who had rang my doorbell! Turns out he was a scam artist who had delivered the very same speech he gave to me to countless others in both Durham and Raleigh. Apparently, some of these folks naively let him into their homes at which point he stepped up the charade by asking for money for a locksmith. One guy actually drove him to his ATM to get money for the guy before realizing something wasn't quite right. What threw people off was a) he was well dressed and well spoken and b) seemed to know their neighbors. Turns out he canvased neighborhoods, looked into people's mailboxes to get their names/their neighbor's names, etc. Very cagey.
He's since been arrested but I have to admit to feeling sorta creepy about the whole thing, knowing he'd probably been watching our house, digging around through our mail (although he never did call me by name, come to think of it) etc. Thank God I am naturally suspicious of people (it NEVER dawned on me to let him into the house) and that Lucy, the big goof, was disobeying me that morning and came running over to the door. Chances are he wasn't terribly interested in entering a house with a big slobbery dog standing right there.
So, once again, it pays to be CAUTIOUS, folks. And, obviously, it makes sense to get to know your neighbors a bit so if someone comes to your door claiming to be one of them (and they are NOT), you can tell them bullshit, slam the door in their face, and dial 911!