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Close Encounter

June 17th, 2024 · Posted by Skuds in Life · No Comments · Life

A slightly odd thing happened the other night. It was about half-past midnight and I was trying to summon the energy to go up to bed. I heard some banging around outside the front door and offered up some silent swear words to the cat, assuming it was him doing his usual trick of wanting in through the front door, even though we have a cat flap in the back door.

I looked down the hall and saw that the porch light was on. Again I assumed the cat hat tripped the motion detector. Then I noticed a person-sized shape through the frosted glass. Not the cat then. I then assumed it was our son trying to get the front door key from the key safe. He does work shifts nearby and has been known to let himself in if he needs to get something or drop something off and thinks we might be asleep.

I figured I would go and let him in, so went to open the door and found myself face-to-face with a Chinese bloke, which surprised both of us.

“Air B’n’B?” he said.

At this point I noticed his wife or girlfriend behind him with a wheeled suitcase.

“I think you want that house” I said, pointing at the place across the road that operates as an Air B’n’B rental, and off they went.

Afterwards I was struck by the lack of drama, and a huge feeling of gratitude that we don’t live in America. Maybe I have seen too many films and read too many books and news stories, but could imagine several ways it could have gone differently over there.

For a start, it seems like anyone seeing a stranger’s shadow outside the house would be in a state of panic straight away, assuming a burglar or home invader. The probability of actually doing something like opening the door would be very low. Best case would be a call to 911 but worst case would be some sort of shooting. You do hear about Deliveroo drivers getting shot as an intruder because they got an address wrong – something else that happens to us every month or two.

That is not to say that Americans over-react, although they probably do, but let’s face it the chance of a stranger being a home intruder is far higher there. We don’t even have such a thing here, at least not often enough for us to have a word for it. I just like that noticing a stranger in the front garden after midnight is no reason to be worried about opening the door and more likely to result in a slightly amusing story to tell Jayne in the morning than any sort of drama.

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