How I Foiled A Criminal In The Very Midst Of His Dastardly Crime!

Well, not so much “foiled” as “politely greeted.”

I got home at about 11:50pm tonight; as I was walking in our front door, I ran into a man I didn’t know walking out that same door, wheeling a bike.

This is not especially unusual; my housemates have friends who I don’t know, I often don’t recognize even people I’ve met several times, and Portlanders habitually bring their bikes indoors with them (for security and for dryness) when they visit a house.

I said something like “hi there!” and he – perfectly calm and friendly – said something like “Hi. Just heading out.” I walked in, he walked out, and my housemate Charles walked in from the kitchen at that moment. I asked Charles if he knew who that guy had been, and Charles, glancing over my shoulder, recognized his own bike being wheeled away and gave chase.

I ran out after Charles, and caught up with them on the sidewalk in front of the house; Charles had grabbed one end of the bike and they were having a tug-of-war, and Charles said “no fucking way, asshole.” The guy ran away at that point, and Charles and I brought the bike back indoors. Hanging off the bike’s rack was Sydney’s backpack, and in the backpack was my housemates stuff – Kim’s laptop, Kim’s e-cig, Jakes’s Playstation, and Sydney’s headphones. (All six items – bike, pack, ecig, laptop, playstation, headphones – had been in the TV room).

We also found an open window, leading into our TV room from the alley in back of the house. We called the cops, but the guy got clean away. The police advised us to lock our windows (good idea!), and to get curtains over the windows.

Oy! Second break-in in four months. That doesn’t mean anything, statistically – it’s not especially unlikely for two robberies to occur in the same year just by random chance – but still not a happy thing.

Note to self: Next time I run into someone in my house I don’t recognize, don’t assume that they’re here legitimately.

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9 Responses to How I Foiled A Criminal In The Very Midst Of His Dastardly Crime!

  1. 1
    Mandolin says:

    I realize that this would not be hilarious if it had turned out differently…

    but as is, it’s very funny.

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:

    I agree. And I think I’m to be commended for my bone-deep reflex for always being polite. :-p

  3. 3
    Robert says:

    I entirely agree. It may be necessary to wrestle one possessions physically away from the miscreant, or even (if one is the king of Sparta and has the appropriate infrastructure) to kick him into a 300-foot-deep well. But it is absolutely indefensible to not show common courtesy in the process. That is why Leonidas helpfully explained to the Persian emissary the geographical rationale behind his vigorous rejection of Persian policy initiatives, and why the inflappable Charles carefully stipulated which exact ways were not going to be fucked, and which body part the interloper was wrongly modeling to the children.

  4. 4
    RonF says:

    All this time you’ve been deceiving us? Clearly you must be Politenessman!

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    Heh. I’ve never seen those strips before, but they’re great.

  6. 6
    David Schraub says:

    My liberal arts college in Minnesota constantly waged a losing battle with its students to get us to do things like “don’t hold the door open for a secured building if you don’t recognize the person coming in behind you.” Because trying to convince a bunch of people who either are or are being rapidly acculturated into Minnesota-nice to slam the door in a strangers face is a surprisingly difficult proposition.

  7. 7
    Ruchama says:

    I’ve never figured out how to not hold the door open. Like, I’ve had a bunch of times when I opened the front door to my apartment building with my key, and then, while I was walking in, someone else grabbed the door and walked in behind me. What was I supposed to do? The door had one of those things at the top so that it would close slowly and not annoy people by slamming all the time.

  8. 8
    Robert says:


    Calculate the zones, and paint a line on the floor and walls. No, really:

    There’s a hilarious webcomic that I cannot find with a title that says something like “why Superman is driven insane”, which has basically the above image, then a picture of the whole world shaded as “awkward zone”.

  9. 9
    RonF says:

    Amp: I suspect that you were either very young or possibly not yet born when those were published. I was in college at the time. It was a semi-regular strip in National Lampoon magazine, which came into being when a few staff members from the Harvard Lampoon graduated and figured out a way to support themselves while delaying growing up. The Lampoon is Harvard’s long-standing humor magazine that actually has it’s own building at Bow Street and Mt. Auburn Street (which last I got a ride down one fine evening in the back of an ambulance that only cost me an appendix).

    If someone is following me into a secure building I’ll flip the door open, but then I’ll stand there until they badge in.

    I once got chewed out for holding a door open. I was passing down a corridor at school with a great many other people and held a door open for a co-ed (which was the universal term used to refer to those individuals comprising the 9% of the student body that was female). She stopped and refused to go through the door. When I looked back questioningly I got an earful about male arrogance and paternalism and such. This, mind you, while numerous other passing students were working around us because we were standing in the middle of a door.

    Then she asked me if I would hold the door open for a man if he was behind me. I said “Yes, I was taught that letting a door close in someone’s face was rude.” Then I let the door close in her face and went to class.