Would you open the door for a stranger in the rain? I didn't.

It was a dark and stormy night. 

To be exact, this happened last night. I was in the bath tub frantically shaving my legs when it started thundering. I was certain I'd become lightening toast. I read articles! Okay, maybe I was a little keyed up because I was short one husband for the night. Dark, alone, responsible. I had two little girls tucked in upstairs under matching pink blankets and of course I'm liable for my perma-buddy, the lady fetus who lives in my belly. By the time the storm settled to a drizzle, I was pony-tailed in Niko's white undershirt and thick eyeglasses. Yoga pants, no make-up. It's the look. (Ask anybody!) I was parked on the couch, mindlessly surfing HuffPo for cheeseburger debates when there was an urgent rap at the door. I jumped like a cartoon mouse.

BANG BANG BANG

Who would bang on my door at 9:00 at night? I'm not a scaredy cat per se, but I'm not one to mess with ouija boards or wandering pedestrians on my porch. So I did the sane thing. I peeked at my front door from around the corner like a child spying on Santa. His emphatic eyes found me immediately: White male, 20 years old, long curly hair, on foot. This is the description I would give the police four minutes later. To Facebook, I'd say he's the permed love child of Eminem and KFed. I mean, not to be sexist or stereotypey or anything, but dude had a white-trash-Weird-Al-Yankovic thing going on. Do not trust!

BANG BANG BANG

He shook the door handle. Through the glass, I was like, "can I help you?"

YEAH, YOU COULD LET ME IN!

"I'm sorry, who are you? Why do you want in?"

BECAUSE IT'S RAINING! TO GET IN OUT OF THE COLD!

"Dude, it's July. You're fine." (I might tell a four-year-old she is fine several times an hour.)

WHAT? I CAN'T HEAR YOU! I CAN'T HEAR YOU! JUST LET ME IN! IT'S RAINING!

And we stood there like that for what seemed like three hours. Staring. Him impatient, angry, maybe scared. Me, confused, sweating, gripping my cell phone. After some door jangling and me darting off to secure all the other locks, I pointed to my garage.

"Go in there! You can wait in there!"

He got visibly annoyed and stomped into my garage as I called my husband, who suggested the police. I dialed 911 and told them everything I just told you. There was a dude at my door who might need help and definitely wants in. He's pacing my garage. A few minutes later he came back to bang and complain.

BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG

YOU CAN CLOSE YOUR GARAGE! CLOSE IT! I JUST WANT OUT OF THE RAIN!

"I'm sorry, I can't let you in."

Off he went, eastbound on foot. His skinny arms were punching down like Slinkies pouring out of his shoulders. The police told me they picked him up a few blocks away. No criminal record, just a guy. When they found him, he had bizarrely acquired an old projector TV he was pushing down the sidewalk.

So what was the deal here? Was he a drugged up threat or just a harmless kid? What if he was somebody's son who was on the spectrum or something? Maybe he was legit afraid of the drizzle? I received a little criticism for letting him in the garage (okay, the criticism was from the police and my husband, among others.) I don't know, I'd rather be wrong and have him steal a bike than be wrong the other way and terrorize a mentally ill person just because he is astonishingly unaware of our culture.

Then again, sure, maybe this is a "good" suburb, but I'm on the heels of over a decade living in the city and you just don't let people in your house. I feel the police are here to help as much as condemn, so I called them.

There's been a lot of talk about raising awareness of mental health recently. We've developed a sensitivity to people "on the spectrum" but that doesn't negate the need for personal safety. Adam Lanza may have been mentally ill, but he was also a murderer. I'm still conflicted though. What about the haunting story of the lady who was left out in Hurricane Sandy when her neighbors refused to let her in? I mean, a drizzle is a far cry from a hurricane I guess, but who knows what that person was feeling outside my door? What happened to help thy neighbor? Then again, I was alone, the sole protector of my little girls and it's not my fault Mayberry doesn't exist.

Did I do the right thing? Would you let a stranger (neighbor?) in from the rain?

mentally ill stranger

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