I settled in for a nap at around 7 PM last night. At around 7:30 PM I woke up to the shrill sound of our bell ringing. Our buzzer is so loud, so startling, it’s been known to force turds from our cats. Most people who regularly visit us know that the bell is loud and therefore skip buzzing up. They call from downstairs instead. So I figured this wasn’t going to be a friend. I hadn’t ordered anything. I wasn’t waiting for any evening deliveries. Tobyjoe was out of town. Who could this be?
I was just getting into the meat of my nap, too. And so I woke up both startled and pissed off. My first reaction when this sort of thing happens is to ignore it. Just let ‘em ring the damn bell and eventually, they’ll go away. (A benefit to living on the third floor, no one can look into windows and find out if you’re actually home ignoring them.) But I figured it might be Andy, the nice guy who lives on the first floor, the guy who works with Tobyjoe. Maybe Andy needed something. But why wouldn’t he just come up?
Our buzzer looks like this:
I clicked “TALK.” (I got to use my voice yesterday after all.)
“Hello?” I asked.
The good thing about the buzzer, the only good thing about the buzzer is the fact that you can hear stuff taking place downstairs if you hit LISTEN. That pretty much means that when someone comes by, before you speak to him or her, you can hear whatever it is they’re saying. Lets say you invite people over for a dinner party. While they’re waiting for you to come downstairs and let them in, if you hit LISTEN, you can hear all the horrible things they’re saying about your cooking (not that we’ve ever done such a thing). Thankfully, the DOOR button is just for show. We have to let people in the old fashioned way, which is probably a good thing in the end especially given what could have happened last night.
I hit LISTEN right away. I heard at least two men finishing up a conversation but I wasn’t sure what they were saying. Either way, their voices were totally unfamiliar to me; neither voice belonged to Andy or anyone else in our building. And they weren’t Polish, which pretty much means they weren’t neighbors either.
“Yes. Hi. Delivery.” A man said.
“I didn’t order anything.”
“Phonebooks for delivery.” The man said.
“Yeah. So?” I said to the man.
“You want them?” The man said.
“Can’t you just leave them where they are?” I asked.
“OK.” The man answered.
I listened to them for a little while longer but couldn’t make out what they were saying. Their voices eventually faded away until all that was left to hear was the sound of a distant car alarm and the traffic from the BQE.
It wasn’t until after I walked away from the buzzer and wake up a bit did I begin to realize that the men weren’t there to bring me my phonebooks. They weren’t there to bring me tidings of joy either. The phonebooks had been there for at least two days. (Incidentally, that’s pretty stupid of the telephone company, in my opinion. Why give out phonebooks during the one time of year where most people are away? They might as well hang a sign out front that reads: ROB THIS HOUSE.) It’s a good thing I’m lazy.
The men were there to scam anyone willing to answer the buzzer at 7:30 PM on a Thursday night. It’s either that, or they were trying to figure out who was home and who wasn’t.
I wanted to call the police but I knew there were bigger fish to fry last night in Brooklyn. This humbling realization made me miss a small town. In a small town, you can call the police if you suspect something and they might even come by and check things out, if not for you, for the sake of your fellow neighbors. But in Brooklyn, situations like that probably don’t take place. In Brooklyn, a crime probably has to take place first; at least that’s what my initial assumption was.
Last night was the first time I used the chain lock on our apartment door. I went to bed with the front door looking like this:
We live in a relatively safe neighborhood. There are the regular Polish drunks, which are harmless unless you’re afraid of a little belligerence and spit. We have some crack heads that are too drugged up and wiry to cause too much harm. And we have some crazy drivers who like to peel out and wake us up. People don’t get stabbed around here. People aren’t mugged, raped, or shot. It just doesn’t happen on this side of the BQE.
We live on the third floor so the chances of someone breaking into our actual apartment are pretty slim. But I was still left to wonder. What if I had answered the door? What if I had been stupid enough to go downstairs? What would have happened then? Would they have given me my phonebook, said “Happy New Year!” and walked away? Because somehow, I seriously doubt it.