Preface to my mom: On the off chance that you’re reading my blog, I love that you’re reading, but please don’t read this particular post because it might make you worry. Rest assured, everything is OK. Also, please ignore the language I used in my title.

I have an urge to begin this story as if I were Sophia on The Golden Girls…”Picture it: Atlanta, 2009.”

So, Atlanta, 2009, day before yesterday, in fact. My routine is that I get home from work around 4:00, remove my pants, and eat a snack while catching up on the internet. From what I can discern, one of my neighbors has a semi-home business, and no discerning necessary, I know that my boyfriend has a penchant for ordering music and video game paraphernalia from the internet. Without fail, these items are delivered around 4:30, and because I am one of the only neighbors at home and because I live right next to the main door to the building and because I don’t learn, I always have to scramble around to put pants on and open the door for the delivery guy. Monday was no exception, and as I sometimes do, I kind of sat around waiting for the guy to go away so that I wouldn’t have to re-pants and talk to someone. But the knocking got more and more frantic, and then the knocker knocked directly on my window. I grudgingly put on pants and went into the foyer. Standing outside was a dude wearing a polo shirt and khakis and holding a package. No, it wasn’t a UPS uniform, but my hackles were doing OK at that point. I opened the door and he stepped inside and didn’t move with purpose. Instead, he peppered me with questions: “I’m looking at apartments. Do you live here? Do you like it? Where’s the leasing office?” And then I noticed that he was actually holding a wrapped-up USA Today. And then he asked me, “Can I come in and look at your apartment?” “I’m not doing that,” I replied firmly, hackles raising. “Can I use your phone to call the leasing office?” he pressed on. “I’m not doing that,” I repeated. “Why can’t I use your phone? And I can’t come in?” “Sorry,” I said insincerely, slipping inside and locking the deadbolt. For some reason, I thought he would leave at that point. My plan was that he would leave and the outside door would lock behind him and I would never see him again and adrenaline would stop coursing through my veins.

What actually happened was that I heard him walking around the small foyer and then clomping upstairs knocking furiously on doors. The weimaraner above me was barking uriously, which made me feel better. But then the guy went to the apartment where there was just a dachshund, and he knocked and knocked, yelling, “Mailman!” I thought of popping my head out and calling, “Please leave! You don’t belong here!” But I’m 5’2″ and 110 pounds and I was home alone with a cat and pepper spray for protection. So I called 911 and gave a description of the perp that I’m proud of (super-observation skills pay off) and asked the operator to “send someone over.” Meanwhile, heart beating, I shut the blinds and listened to the conversation in the hallway:

“I literally was in the shower…”
“Well, I’m selling cleaning products…”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t have any money.”
“Can I come in?”

Close your door and I’m so sorry, I thought, relying on ESP to get the message through to my neighbor. I watched as three Atlanta police cars slowed and drove by, none of them stopping. More conversation in the hallway. And finally, clomping back down the stairs and out the door, propping it behind him, the guy left. I popped out of my door and slammed the outside door, making sure it latched. My neighbor was standing at the top of her stairs with her dachshund. “Are you OK?” I asked, “Yeah…that was weird,” she replied. “He was fucking creepy and I called the cops,” I told her, and then we compared notes. He had pushed past her into her apartment, took something from her coffee table, left his USA Today and insisted that she had crack that she wasn’t giving him. She opened the door because she didn’t have a peep hole nor a door chain.

The police never came and you better believe that I called the zone 6 precinct to complain. They told me that the 911 dispatcher told them just that the guy was in the neighborhood, not in the building, so they only dispatched someone to drive by. They gave me the number for the 911 communications department. I called and spoke with a supervisor and last I heard, they were “reviewing tapes of [my] call.”

I know I shouldn’t have opened the door in the first place. And even if a guy is in a uniform, holding a UPS ID, from now on, he’s not getting in past me. And if someone orders a pizza, they’re going to have to meet Papa John’s outside on the sidewalk. I’m glad that since moving to Atlanta, I’ve relinquished any obligation to be nice to someone I don’t know and that I’ve honed my “trust your gut” skills that I’ve developed from working a clinic where we’re on constant alert for sketchy characters. But I’m not glad that creepy crackheads like this guy exist and I’m not glad about incompetent 911 operators (I really don’t blame the police in this case) and I’m not glad that I don’t have a more formidable appearance and I’m not glad about leasing offices that don’t provide basic safety measures for their residents.

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