By Richard Mabey Jr.
Thomas Wolfe, in his first novel, Look Homeward Angel, continued to write the phrase, “a stone, a leaf, a door,” throughout his book. I think Thomas was using that simple phrase to emphasize the comfort and heart-felt warmth of stepping into one’s home, through the front door.
For the past eight years, I have worked in the Security Division of a large, gated community in Central Florida. I have served in various capacities, from contributing to a weekly newsletter to managing a major gatehouse, to being a part of their public relations department. My purpose in writing this weekly column is to share the knowledge and wisdom that I learned from many classes, studying security manuals, and working in the day-to-day field of security.
In this, my first column focusing on security and safety, I want to zoom in on the front door of your home. First and foremost, and I cannot stress this enough, please do have a window in your front door. The old peep hole is good. In fact, it’s better than having a solid front door, from which you cannot see the outside world from inside. But, it’s very important to be able to see who is at your front door. And, also to be able to see a wide range of your front yard from your front door.
This was kept relatively quiet, but in Central Florida for a while, there was a situation where was this team of con artists and criminals who would knock on people’s front doors in various disguises and different pretenses. One classic situation, was where an elderly woman would knock on a person’s front door and say that her car broke down and may she come in and use the phone. There were variations of this theme. But the main thing was for the stage person, the con artist of the group, to get into your house. That was the most important goal of all. Once a stranger, with evil intent, is inside your home, your defenses are cut down to bare minimum. For at that point in the game, they are holding the four aces.
I remember back when I lived in Lincoln Park, it was around lunch time, and I was home alone. I was at my computer writing a newspaper column. This was around 1994 or so, just before cell phones were as widespread as they are now. There was a knock on the front door. I looked out from the living room window, there were two men at the door. Something about them, did not seem right.
They had seen me from the big widow at the front door of the porch. Fortunately, the enclosed front porch acted as a kind of buffer between the outside world and the front door to living room.
I thought if I ignored them that they would go away. They just stayed there, continuing to ring the doorbell. A good five minutes passed, and they were still standing there, continuing to ring the front door.
And then something very strange happened, as if it was out of an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” One of the two men shouted out, “open the door, we know you’re home.” It scared me to no end.
I called the town police and explained to the dispatcher what was happening. I had been hesitant to call the police, I really didn’t want to bother them. Nor, did I want to come across as a worry wort. But I felt a sense of assurance when the dispatcher told me that I had done the right thing. That she was sending a police team out to drive to my home. The dispatcher also made it clear to me, not to go out and open the front door for these two men.
Well, after I hung up the phone, I could easily see that the two men were still outside by my front door. They were continuing to ring the front door. Now, it was in a spirit of great impatience. The door bell would ring for long periods of time, with only a few moments of quiet, only to once again start ringing again.
I was so very glad to see the police car slowly drive down Route 202 and turn down Mabey Lane and drive into my back driveway. Amazingly, the two men immediately left when they saw the police car come down Mabey Lane, as they were parked along West Drive.
Immediately after the two men left, I went outside and earnestly thanked the two police officers. They assured me that I had done the right thing. I told the police officers that I was hesitant to call because I just didn’t want to bother them. They also assured me that I did the right thing.
The biggest thing to remember, especially if you are home alone, is that once you open your door to someone, you are leaving yourself completely vulnerable to them. Those of us who are good people, and do our best to live good lives, often lose track of the fact that there are very evil people out there in the world.
The biggest thing to remember, when a stranger comes to your door, is always rule on the side of caution. And, follow your instincts. If something within you tells you that something is not right about a situation, by all means listen to that inner voice.
Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com. Please place the wording “My Life Weekly” in the subject line.