A little over a month ago, I got involved in a situation that would make McGruff (you know, the cartoony bloodhound who wants us all to take a bite out of crime) either immensely proud or tail-between-the-legs embarrassed.
Let me lay it out for you. Our good friends who live a few doors down from us were away on vacation. Upon arriving home from a doctor’s appointment with the kids, I registered an unfamiliar car entering our quiet little cul-de-sac. No problem, I figured the driver would see that he’d hit a dead end and simply turn around like everyone else. Nope! He proceeded to park his car near my friends’ empty house and sit there…for awhile.
So, obviously, I’m keeping an eye on this guy (from the safety and anonymity of my living room window at this point). Well, he finally gets out of his car to stand directly in front of my friends’ house and make a call on his cell phone. And what’s in his other hand? An unmarked black duffle bag. Now I’m REALLY suspicious because we all know what’s carried in an unmarked black duffle bag…cat burglar tools! (Seriously, what else would you carry in an unmarked black duffle bag?!?)
Of course, my kids are also watching these events unfold with great interest and, when I express my concerns, they start encouraging me to call 911. By this time, I need no encouragement. (After all, doesn’t the unmarked black duffle bag say it all?) But I’m rational enough to declare this a non-911 event. So I look up the regular township police station number in the phone book to report my concerns. I’m told a patrol car will come to “investigate” the situation.
So the kids and I continue our observation out the living room window (although now we’re crouched down lower than the line of shrubs planted at our home’s foundation) and we’re awaiting the arrival of said patrol car. Before that happens, however, the mysterious cat burglar is inside my friends’ truck and pulling it out of the driveway.
YIKES! What do I do now?!? The cops aren’t on the scene yet and this guy is probably committing grand theft auto!!!!
But here comes the unbelievable part. He pulls the truck back into the driveway. Then he proceeds to start washing it. Uh-oh! He’s not a cat burglar. He’s not an auto thief. He’s…a car detailer. And by now the police are on their way to “investigate” the situation.
In fact, the local authorities arrive moments later as the guy is sudsing up the truck’s driver side door (probably with supplies from his unmarked black duffle bag). They begin questioning him (thankfully, not up against the hood of their cruiser with his hands cuffed behind his back.) The patrolmen drive away shortly thereafter, clearly satisfied with the car detailer’s explanation.
Now before you hand down a verdict of “hysterical housewife”, you should know that I live in a small, tight-knit community that has had its share of minor burglaries (golf clubs out of an open garage, cash from unlocked cars, etc.) and the local police force has always encouraged us to call in anything that seems even slightly out of the norm. (Nonetheless, I still felt semi-ridiculous after the whole cat-burglar-turned-car-detailer affair.)
OK…now you can call it as you see it. In this particular scenario, would my actions fall within the “concerned neighbor” or “hysterical housewife” category?
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