By August 10, 2007

Welcome to the neighborhood

Working from home has quite a few benefits. One of them is being able to watch the neighborhood during the day. We live on a cul-de-sac, and most of the car traffic on our street is from homeowners. As such, I recognize most of our neighbors’ cars, even if I don’t know much about the occupants.

I came home yesterday at about 2PM to see a black Ford Five Hundred parked outside of our home. There was an overweight white man in a striped shirt inside, talking on his mobile phone. This was odd for a few reasons: no one should be outside our house, I didn’t remember seeing the man nor the car before, and it was about 115°F outside. He had his air conditioner running, but still. Our immediate next door neighbor, Miss Teachypants, was away for over a week. Miss Teachypants is divorcing her husband for being a drunk and overall Dickface™. Teachypants had also been looking for a housemate and there was a weird episode with an Australian from Craigslist. They wanted to wire her more than the requested deposit amount, and have Teachypants refund the balance. Um, hi there scam, how are you today? Anyway, the “Australian” wanted to move in on Wednesday, so I was keeping an extra eye out for a moving van or just unusual people in general.

Despite my suspicions, I went inside and did some work. Maybe the guy was waiting for someone, whatever. At 4PM the car was still there, man still inside. I decided things were too unusual to ignore. Strange guy, strange car, sitting in the car for over two hours … wtf? I wrote down his license plate and rough description. I called the non-emergency line for the county police and waited. A police cruiser rolled up ten minutes later; an officer got out and spoke with the man for about a minute before giving a big smile. The officer drove off, and the black Five Hundred followed after a few moments. Hrm. Maybe it was an unmarked police car?

Five minutes passed and I saw the guy walking up our driveway. I let the dogs out the side door — didn’t want them squirreling around in case of an incident — and opened the front door.

The man smiled. “Uh, hi, my name is $myName. I was sitting outside in my car and have been walking around to the other houses to let people know not to freak out. I just moved into the neighborhood and don’t have our phone hooked up yet. I can’t get cell reception in my house, so I have to sit out in my car for conference calls.”

I had a split-second to decide if I was going to own up to calling the police or playing it off on some other nosy paranoid person on the street. I pulled my tshirt back to cover my Glock. “Yeah, it was me. We don’t get a lot of unusual cars on the street, and with all the kids and whatnot we like to keep an eye on things.” He laughed and apologized, and said it was even worse because he works for Avis and comes home in different rental cars. I chuckled, we chatted for a bit, I said I was sorry for calling the heat on him, and he left.

All’s well that ends well? I guess so. But this leaves me wondering if I have turned into the neighborhood snoop. This also leaves me wondering if I give a shit. This is my block, and I’ll be dammed if some funky shit happens while I’m around.

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6 Comments on "Welcome to the neighborhood"

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  1. Wow, weird story… I would’ve done the same: call the cops. That guy would’ve freaked me out.

  2. Ed says:

    Was the right thing to do per my book. NO harm done, and it could have averted catastrophe. Neighborhood snoop would have –

    a) Called all the neighbors to gossip
    b) Called 911 in a panic

    Course you get bonus Mr. Burns points if when you were done talking , but before you shut the door, you unleashed the hounds.

  3. Stomper says:

    It’s a good thing for neighbors to watch out for each other and keep an eye out for strangers in the neighborhood. And you’d still be kicking yourself if you hadn’t done anything and something bad had been going on.

    I had a “god father” (the second, his father had been the first) on the one street I lived on in Santa Fe. I was formally introduced to him before I moved into the house. That was a little interesting, but he really kept an eye on the neighborhood. I made sure he knew when I was going to be away and who was going to come to or stay at my place while I was gone (and what they looked like). He wasn’t shy about asking people what they were doing at my place when I was away or at work. It gave me a little more peace of mind.

  4. Configuratrix says:

    Seen any more of Cell Phone Car Guy?

  5. drfaulken says:

    Nope, if he’s still unable to get a signal inside his house, he may be staying on his porch. It’s also been about twenty degrees cooler since The Incident™, so perhaps there’s no need for him to sit in his car, or at least no need for him to sit in his car in front of my house.

  6. Ramba says:

    I would have done the same. Did you confirm that he actually moved into the neighborhood???? Sounds like it could be a fishy story to me. Just lookin’ out for my kids!