There is a foreclosed home on the corner of our block. I know it’s foreclosed because there is a Martin Luther-esque piece of paper taped to the front door that reads, “This house is foreclosed. BACK OFF. Love, Bank.” At least that’s what I assume it reads—I’ve never actually read it because it’s all the way across the street. Nevertheless, in today’s modern age, I do believe taping a piece of loose-leaf paper to a front door remains the best mode of communication regarding the status of any freestanding structure.
Anyway, there have been a lot of rumors about what is happening in this house. I have heard squatters were living there. I have heard the neighborhood kids ransacked it and set up their own independent government headquarters. I have heard Tupac lives there. Everything I have heard has come from neighborhood gossip and I have believed all of it.
I have, therefore, tried to remain on guard. Not because I necessarily care what happens to this house, but because I think it’s important to keep out of our neighborhood the type of people who would rob and/or live in an abandoned home. Especially considering that not so long ago, the foreclosed house right next to ours was robbed. They pulled the range from the wall, leaving behind an exposed, leaking gas line. Were I a person with the understandable habit of lighting up the occasional backyard cigar, I would have likely exploded the entire block. So that was comforting to discover.
Last week I was out front and I noticed some suspicious activity happening by this house. Two men seemed to have gone in the backyard, and there was another man in a pickup truck across the street observing while talking on his phone. I wasn’t sure what to do. I considered confronting the pickup truck, but I saw the guy inside and he was huge so I was like, “Better play it cool.” Should I call the police? Hello, police? This is Mike. There are some people looking at a house. Please send backup. I’ll try and stare at them for as long as can.
As usual, I did nothing. I told my wife about it when she arrived home soon thereafter, and she was captivated and impressed by my story about how I saw something and didn’t do anything.
Very early the next morning, my wife and I were awoken by sounds from across the street. My wife jumped up, looked out the window and said, “They’re robbing the house!” I sprung into action and called the police.
Police: Nine-one-one, what’s your emergency?
Me: Actually, could I have the non-emergency line? Wait, this might be an emergency. There’s a robbery in progress, I think.
Police: Yes, that would be an emergency. What is the address?
Me: I don’t know. It’s across the street from my house.
Police. What is your address, sir?
Me: My address is __. But I want to reiterate the robbery is not happening here. Please don’t send anyone here because my daughter is sleeping.
Police: What is the description of the suspects?
Me: Talking to wife. Babe, what do they look like?
Wife: I don’t know. It’s too dark.
Me: It’s too dark.
Police: Rolling her eyes, something I can strangely sense over the phone.
They sent a police officer. He arrived at our door about twenty minutes later and informed me that the house in question was going up for auction that day, something he discovered by reading the piece of paper on the front door. The people I had seen the previous day were probably potential investors, and the noises could have been auction reps clearing some things out. Nevertheless, he assured me I did the right thing by calling the police. I went back inside and finished my yogurt and granola, confident that potential investors learned their lesson about stepping foot into my neighborhood.
And HE is an idiot.
Note: This column appears in the 10/11 issue of The Glendale Star and the 10/12 issue of the Peoria Times.