Not a lot of things scare me, but when I was awoken at 4AM this morning with the sound of someone trying to get into my apartment I was scared. At first I thought that maybe it was one of my friends that has a key to my place. Adam, maybe, but then he probably would have called in advance. My second thought was that that it was one of my neighbors trying to get into their apartment, since it sounds almost the same as someone at my door. The rattling at the door went on for too long, though. Clearly someone was trying to get into one of the apartments in my building. I was 80% sure that whoever it was, was trying to get into ”my” apartment. I wanted a weapon. I wanted anything to defend myself with. I have a walking stick that I got while I was in Boy Scouts. ”Maybe I could use that?” Just call a stick a bō and suddenly it’s a weapon, Donatello proved that. A stick didn’t really seem like a good weapon, though, not enough heft to it, and I was pretty sure it was buried in my storage closet. No, I needed something stronger, but what? I grabbed a frying pan. Heck, they’re good for taking out zombies in ”Left 4 Dead 2”.
With frying pan in hand, I approached my front door. I was too scared to even flip the blinds a little too look and see who was there. What if the guy saw me peeping through and fired a shotgun blast at me? I was listening to hear if he belonged there. He was mumbling and grunting. It sounded like he expected the door to just open, but it wouldn’t. I wondered if he lived in my building, but had the wrong apartment so his key wasn’t working. Scared as I was, I decided to approach him. I wasn’t about to let him know where I lived, though, so I went out the back door and walked around to the front of the building with frying pan in hand. When my door came into view I didn’t see anyone. I thought maybe he’d left. A few more steps forward and I saw someone standing in front of the door across from mine.
My heart skipped a beat. He was a big man. At least twice as big as me. I can’t really say he was a scary looking guy, but certainly not friendly looking either. I’d put him at about three inches taller than me. As far as I was concerned he was a monster of a man. I didn’t know how much my frying pan would help me. I thought about moving on and not saying anything to him, but I knew if he was out there I wouldn’t be able to sleep. “What are you doing here?” I mustered. I was shaking. He hadn’t heard me. I’m not even sure if he’d seen me. I swallowed. I’d need more courage. I’d have to speak louder, “What are you doing here?” I said again. I’d gotten his attention.
He grunted. I didn’t recognize the guy, but that didn’t mean that he didn’t live in my building. I said, “Do you live here?”
“Sort of,” he slurred. ”What kind of answer was that? Sort of.” I was almost sure he didn’t live in my building. He was mumbling and grunting more, only partly aware of what was going on. He wasn’t wearing a jacket, only a t-shirt. His hands were tucked inside it. He could have been concealing a weapon under the shirt.
“Where do you live?” I asked. I felt like a cop. Or at least I wanted to feel like one. I didn’t actually have any courage. It made no sense for me to be out there. I wondered if he’d seen the fact that I was holding a frying pan. I’d use it on him if I had to.
“Here,” he answered. I didn’t think the guy knew where ”here” was. I figured he was homeless and on drugs. I wanted him to go away.
“Do you need me to call someone for you?” I offered. His mom maybe. In actuality, I didn’t want him to say anything. The last thing I wanted to do was start calling strangers. What I really wanted to say was, ”Get outta here or I’m going to call the cops.”
“I’m cold,” he grunted. Clearly. I mean he was only wearing a t-shirt. I was now 100% confident that he didn’t have a weapon under his shirt.
I didn’t know what to say to him. I wasn’t going to let him into my apartment. I walked away, leaving him there, kind of wondering if I should have turned my back on him or not. I felt bad for the guy. It was 4AM, he probably wasn’t going to freeze to death, but it was still a while until daylight. I thought that maybe I should give him a blanket. Just open my door and hand it to him. I didn’t really want him sleeping on my front porch, though. I waited about fifteen minutes to decide what to do. I heard more rattling. I had kind of hoped that by approaching him, he’d get scared an leave. He wasn’t leaving, and the only thing I could figure was to call the police. They’d be able to lock him up for the night, give him a warm bed to sleep on, or at least warmer than standing there in the cold.
I didn’t think it was an emergency, so I didn’t dial 911. I used my Kindle Fire to look up the local police department number. I put the number in my phone, not sure if I was really going to call or not. Another five minutes pass and he was still there. Still trying to open one of the doors.
I called the cops. The dispatcher was a woman. “There’s a guy outside my apartment,” I said as if it was the most casual thing in the world. Well, at least that’s how I thought I said it. I’m pretty sure if you asked the dispatcher she’d say that I sounded like a scared little boy. I didn’t hear anything but silence for a few seconds. I wondered if the call had been dropped since the cell service in my apartment is spotty at times. “You still there,” I asked.
“Hold on a second,” she said. I wondered why she could possibly want me to hold on. I had said that there was a guy outside my apartment, he could be out there to kill me for all she knew. I figured she had to turn the volume up because I was talking too quietly. I was like a timid mouse. I still had the frying pan in my hand. “What’s your address?”
I gave it to her. She asked for my name too. She then repeated some numbers to me, it sounded like a phone number, then, under her breathe, she said, “No that’s not it, you’re not in here.” I was thinking, ”Of course I’m not in your system, I’m not a criminal!” I heard some typing on a keyboard. She asked for my phone number. “Can you give me a description of the guy?” ”Finally, we’re getting somewhere.”
“Yeah,” I said, “He’s about six foot three.” I don’t even know where I came up with that size. I just knew he was taller than me, but he was so scary looking I just said a fairly tall height. “A bigger guy, kind of a beer belly. I think he might be homeless.” That was my description.
She asked for some more details, like his hair color, and what he was wearing. I mentioned that he was wearing a t-shirt. I wanted to tell her that I thought he was going to freeze since it was cold out, and that was one of the main reasons I was calling. “You said he was a white male?” she asked. I had said no such thing. I understood why the dispatcher made that assumption, though. “Did you talk to him?” I told her about my experience approaching him. I didn’t mention the frying pan. “Do you want me to send an officer by?”
”Duh, why do you think I’m calling?” “Yes,” I said.
She was about to hang up, then said, “Wait, one more thing, is he still there?”
“Uh, let me check,” I said. I didn’t want to check. I had made the call in the back room so he wouldn’t hear me. I didn’t want him to see me looking through the blinds. I was sure he was still there. He’d been there for the past thirty minutes. He hadn’t left after I’d approached him. He wasn’t going anywhere. I looked through the blinds. At first I didn’t see him, and for a brief second I thought maybe I was wrong and that he’d left. Then my eyes adjusted to the darkness. The monster of a man was there. “Yeah, he’s still there.”
“Okay, I’m sending some officers.”
So I waited. The police department is two blocks down, so I didn’t expect it to take long. A few minutes later I saw the lights of a car pulling up. I listened to the conversation.
“Hey, buddy.” The guy didn’t acknowledge the cop. “Hey, buddy,” the cop said louder. A grunt in response. “Do you live here?” the cop asked. I got excited. The cop asked the same thing I had asked!
“Um, uh, yeah, sort of.”
The cop didn’t buy it. He radioed the backup vehicle, “Just hold on a minute.” The cop figured the guy was harmless, no reason for two cops. “Where do you live?” The guy kept grunting back. “What’s your address?”
The guy said, “Uh, here.”
The cop asked for ID. The next thing I heard was, “That’s a credit card.” The guy said, “Uh, yeah.” Later I heard, “That’s a business card.” The guy said, “Yeah, it’s a family thing.” Their conversation continued for a few more minutes. It became clear that this guy didn’t even know what city he was in, because in response to one of the cop’s questions he said, “I live in the city of… Uh, the county of… Uh, here.” He couldn’t come up with anything. I don’t even think he knew he was in the Bay Area at all.
I wanted the cop to arrest the guy and take him in. I got the feeling that the cop didn’t want to arrest the guy, though. He wanted to take him home if possible. Eventually I heard handcuffs. The guy was put in the patrol car. I figured the cop was going to knock on my door. I didn’t really want him to. I didn’t want the guy to know which apartment had called the cops on him. I put the frying pan down. The cop knocked on the door.
“Hi,” I said. The cop was a short fellow, late forties. I was pretty sure I’d seen him at the nearby gas station before, filling up his patrol car. And when I had seen him there I was like, ”Truly, one of this city’s finest!” You’ve heard the cliche of cops and donuts? This cop was a testament to that. I can’t lie, though, he’d handled the situation. I guess it didn’t matter what he looked like.
“Are you the guy that called?”
“Yeah,” I said.
The cop seemed angry. Upset that I made him do some work at 4:30AM. “Do you know that guy?”
“I’ve never seen him before in my life,” I said.
“Does he live here?” ”Why on Earth would the cop ask me that? I just said that I’d never seen him before.” I think the cop was implying that the guy was ”my” roommate and that I had kicked him out for the night.
“I don’t know. He could, but I haven’t ever seen him before.” I kind of motioned to the other doors. “But it sounded like he was trying to get into ”my” apartment,” I clarified.
“He’s very intoxicated, and it’s cold out here, so we’re going to take him in,” the cop said. That’s all I wanted. That’s why I called. I wanted the guy off my doorstep, and hopefully somewhere warm so he wouldn’t freeze.
“Good work, officer,” I said. The cop walked away.
I’m wondering, even now, if that guy does in fact live in my building. If he’s going to wake up in jail in the morning, and be like, ”My neighbor called the cops on me! I’m gonna get that guy!” I’m about 65% sure that he doesn’t live in my building, though. In reality, he’ll probably wake up, wonder where he is and not know how he got there. If he was super intoxicated maybe this will all just be blackout for him. Maybe he’s a comedian. Maybe this will become part of a standup comedy routine for him. My guess is that the cops will dump him in the next county so they won’t have to deal with him. I wanted to check the police blotter, see what it say. Hopefully it doesn’t say: “A timid, scared, and wimpy citizen reported a white male outside his apartment. Officers responded and found a man that appeared to be intoxicated. The man was arrested on suspicion of vagrancy. He was released in the morning. No further action was taken. A homicide occurred a few minutes later at the address of the arrest. Officers are investigating.”
”’Update March 20, 2014”’
The police blotter actually read:
”’DISTURBANCE”’ – A 31-year-old Soquel man was arrested at 4:30 a.m. for suspicion of disorderly conduct in the 700 block of Adams Street
Soquel is nearly 80 miles away!