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#1
Old 01-23-2014, 01:53 AM
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Knock on the door after midnight, what would you do?

So I'm sitting up unable to sleep, and it's been 30 minutes. I was woken up by someone knocking on my front door, which is unheard of. My front door is on the highway side and hasn't been used in forever.

When I woke up, my heart was beating at an antelope's pace. By the time I got myself situated enough, I called out tentatively, "hello" but there was no answer. The glare from my inside light blocked my view outside so I couldn't see anything.

I debated what should I do, remembering all the horror stories of people trying to be good samaritans only to wind up as the next serial killer victim (Ted Bundy anyone?).

So I called the non-emergency number and asked them what to do. They recommended I keep the doors locked and wait for them to do a drive by.

I saw the blue and white flashing lights, so I know they drove by, but I'm still unable to get back to sleep so I thought I'd find out just how unreasonable I am behaving.
#2
Old 01-23-2014, 02:01 AM
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What non-emergency people were nice enough to do a drive-by?
#3
Old 01-23-2014, 02:09 AM
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The police. I didn't think it warranted a 911 call since I didn't hear sounds of someone trying to force their way in.

911 was my first thought when I was woken up though. I talked myself down to just call the police using their regular number.
#4
Old 01-23-2014, 02:14 AM
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Your response was not unreasonable at all.

Burglars commonly use a ruse of knocking on the door to determine if anyone is home. If no response is detected they proceed to break in. If you answer the door they make an excuse (my car broke down/I was looking for someone else but must have the wrong house) and then go to try the next house..

FWIW, I am working 9-1-1 as I type this and another call taker is processing and dispatching a call that is exactly like the OP's situation.
#5
Old 01-23-2014, 02:29 AM
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I wouldn't think much more of it than I would of an unexpected knock on the door at any other time of day. I get calls from the buzzer at that time sometimes. I'd assume it was someone mistaken about the apartment number, a neighbor wanting something, or my psycho ex. In any case I wouldn't answer.

There was one time when I lived in a duplex that someone knocked on my door very late at night and I answered in a towel. I had been expecting a dude I was dating (I wasn't trying to be sexy, I was just running late and hadn't gotten dressed yet) and instead it was an old man who had the wrong house. He was all thrown off and stammering, I assume wondering what the hell was wrong with me answering the door like that to a stranger in the middle of the night in a pretty bad neighborhood. It was only after he left that I realized that duh, that's why he was acting so weird.
#6
Old 01-23-2014, 04:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackberry View Post
I wouldn't think much more of it than I would of an unexpected knock on the door at any other time of day. I get calls from the buzzer at that time sometimes. I'd assume it was someone mistaken about the apartment number, a neighbor wanting something, or my psycho ex. In any case I wouldn't answer.
With an apartment it's different from a house, though, because there are always people milling around. When I had just moved into this apartment, I had for some reason forgotten to lock the door one night, and some random dude just walked in while I was sleeping. He said he was looking for the exit out to the street, which I assume was the truth. At least he didn't catch me sitting around in the buff watching porn or anything, which of course I would never do anyway.

For a while I got random buzzer calls at the weirdest hours of the day with no one on the other end. That happens for all kinds of reasons in apartments, but in this case I actually figured out why: It's easy to lean on the callbox on the outside wall by accident, if you're standing by the door smoking a cigarette. I noticed that when I did it myself, presumably waking up some of my neighbors.
#7
Old 01-23-2014, 04:48 AM
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It would be extremely unusual in the small village I live in, so I would immediately be suspicious. I'd first look out the top floor window to see if I could see someone, then I would probably open the window to speak to anyone I saw at the door. If there was onone, I'd probably email our Community Support Officer the next day. (In the UK, CSOs aren't police but are affiliated with them.)
#8
Old 01-23-2014, 04:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martian Bigfoot View Post
With an apartment it's different from a house, though, because there are always people milling around.
Definitely. Only one of the places where I've lived on my own has been a duplex (unsecured, and I was on the ground floor). A few times someone came and knocked on the door and then came around and knocked hard on windows all around the place. It wasn't super long after I moved there, so I assumed it wasn't for me and ignored it. Slightly creepy though. It was considered a pretty bad neighborhood (Rainier and Genessee, Seattle, y'all) so I'm sure it would have freaked some people out. That was also the place where I wisely answered the door in a towel.
#9
Old 01-23-2014, 06:10 AM
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I would assume it was a policeman come to give me bad news (e.g. a close relative's been involved in an accident or similar).

I can lean out of my bedroom window and see the front door, so I'd be able to establish who it is without needing to unlock anything though.
#10
Old 01-23-2014, 06:37 AM
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I'm on the top floor of a courtyard building with secured entrances. A knock on my door at midnight would freak me right the hell out. People don't "mill around" here. I expect some noise when a party is happening in one of the 4-bedroom units with college students, but even they keep it reasonable. My front and back doors share entrances with other single bedroom units, though, and our shared areas are very quiet. No random people ever.

My buzzer gets pressed once in a while during the day when I'm not expecting anyone. It's also the first button on top, and sometimes it's just delivery people wanting to get buzzed in just to leave a package. I never answer it unless I'm waiting on someone, and that would go triple after dark. (though I'm pretty sure it's the lady on the first floor who buzzes them all in - I've been tempted to tape an arrow pointing at her buzzer button so people try that one first)

If someone were knocking on doors after midnight, I would definitely call 911.
#11
Old 01-23-2014, 09:22 AM
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I can't really not answer my door and I have tenants who don't seem to understand the difference between an emergency and a non-emergency. They also don't understand that I actually do sleep sometimes. The dumbest middle of the night knock was at pretty close to 2 am and it was one tenant coming over to complain about another tenant. "I can't get any sleep, she's so loud!" Hey! Me too, except it's you! I've also been woken up because the fire alarm was going off for no reason, from drunk people knocking on the wrong door who would have walked right in if I didn't keep my door locked and, one time, somebody who was clearly high and wanting to look at an apartment at 4:30 am (oh, I thought it was later...).

I keep a gun safe with a biometric lock very close to my front door. So I would answer the door but it would take me a extra five seconds or so to do it.
#12
Old 01-23-2014, 09:47 AM
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It could have been an auditory hallucination. I've been awakened by what I thought was a knock or a bell, but what turned out to be some remnant of a dream.
#13
Old 01-23-2014, 09:56 AM
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I have a reliable eye-hole on my door. If the person outside is not familiar to me, I'm keeping the door closed, waiting until he/she leaves, then going back to sleep afterwards.
#14
Old 01-23-2014, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Fire View Post
I keep a gun safe with a biometric lock very close to my front door. So I would answer the door but it would take me a extra five seconds or so to do it.
In that same vein, I'd likely rack my shotgun nice and loud as close to the door as I could, then ask through the door, "What do you want?"
#15
Old 01-23-2014, 09:59 AM
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I'd get up, throw my robe on, grab my cellphone and my gun, and go to the door. I'd turn on the porch light and look out of the decorative side window next to the door to see if I could see anyone, and call out. If there was someone there, I'd talk to them - but I wouldn't open the door. I'd call 911 if needed. If I didn't spot anybody, I'd stay up for a bit, then go back to bed.
#16
Old 01-23-2014, 10:20 AM
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We have a reasonably effective security system that occasionally goes off when the wind blows a door open that wasn't closed well. That's startling enough. But an actual knock on the door that late is scary. It's yet to happen to me, but I would debate calling 911, getting my gun, or turning on outside lights. Or even clicking the alarm to sound. That would wake the dead. If there were a person causing the knock and that person were still there I might suggest they come back at a better time.

I can relate to not being able to go back to sleep!
#17
Old 01-23-2014, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Roundabout View Post
I have a reliable eye-hole on my door.
Heh.
#18
Old 01-23-2014, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
Heh.
Haha, Thankfully, I don't live in an apartment building.

Knocking + recently damaged peep-hole = Instant 911 call.
#19
Old 01-23-2014, 10:38 AM
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I'd be freaked out. We live in the middle of nowhere. You can't see our house from the road, and you can't see any other houses from our house. They would have had to walk up a long gravel driveway to get here. We also never lock our doors, but we do have dogs, who would be making a racket.

I'd call 911 immediately. If my husband was home (which he would be unless he was deployed) he would probably get a gun and go check things out. If I was home alone I'd quickly lock the door and talk to the person through the door, telling them I'd called 911, and just see what happened from there.
#20
Old 01-23-2014, 10:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renee View Post
I'd be freaked out. We live in the middle of nowhere. You can't see our house from the road, and you can't see any other houses from our house. They would have had to walk up a long gravel driveway to get here. We also never lock our doors, but we do have dogs, who would be making a racket.
.
Me too. (Except we lock our doors). Someone at midnight would be either 1) in trouble or 2) looking for trouble.

Our dogs would be going crazy. My wife would make me get up and investigate.
#21
Old 01-23-2014, 11:26 AM
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I have 2 front doors, but there are windows next to both so I can see who is out there. I would probably be armed if I got a knock in the middle of the night.
#22
Old 01-23-2014, 12:19 PM
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We live in the middle of our block, in a suburban neighborhood. If someone knocked on the door that late at night, I would assume it was a neighbor in need of help or something and go to the door. Of course, the first thing that would happen, would be that the dogs would go crazy barking. That should be enough to scare off most people who don't know us. I would look out the peep hole and if it was someone I knew, probably open the door and find out what's going on. If I didn't know the person, I might call out and ask them if I could call the police for them, but I would not open the door. My dogs bark like dogs from hell when the door is shut, but as soon as it's open they're all, "pet me, love me".
#23
Old 01-23-2014, 12:20 PM
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If someone knocks on my front door, and I don't feel safe opening it because I don't know who it is or whatever, I will sometimes go out the back door and walk around to the front and talk to them out there. They could still get me, but at least they have to do it out in the open where the neighbors could see. At midnight, though, they'd not even get that- although I might yell through the door to see who it is.
#24
Old 01-23-2014, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Procrustus View Post
Me too. (Except we lock our doors). Someone at midnight would be either 1) in trouble or 2) looking for trouble.
Yep, me three.
#25
Old 01-23-2014, 01:15 PM
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I live in a tiny apartment building (4 apartments), and my neighbors do occasionally keep odd hours. I'd just assume it was someone who got the wrong door and just ignore it, or if it persisted, I might call out to ask who they were looking for and redirect them.

Not really related, but yesterday morning as I was leaving, the door to the apartment downstairs slowly opened (it opens directly onto the front stoop, so is outside and in full view of the entire street). I thought it might be someone trying to catch me to ask me something, so I stopped and called out "hello". My neighbor's two-year old son stepped out onto the front step, competely naked, and stood there staring at me. His mother quickly scooped him up and apologized.
#26
Old 01-23-2014, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Renee View Post
... We also never lock our doors.... If I was home alone I'd quickly lock the door ...
This is something that's always puzzled me. If you're home alone, why not just, y'know, go ahead and lock the door? It's not like you get some Good Citizen Merit Badge for leaving the door unlocked...
#27
Old 01-23-2014, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by purplehorseshoe View Post
This is something that's always puzzled me. If you're home alone, why not just, y'know, go ahead and lock the door? It's not like you get some Good Citizen Merit Badge for leaving the door unlocked...
I don't know, just never got in the habit. I'm in and out of the house probably 20 times a day, often with my hands full. I've never once in my life had a problem due to not locking the doors.
#28
Old 01-23-2014, 01:59 PM
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We live in the sticks. I'd probably think it was some kids that got stuck in the ditch... but with everyone having cell phones now, I don't know.

The dogs would be going crazy. I'd turn on the outside lights, and see who it was. I may have a pistol with me.
#29
Old 01-23-2014, 02:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renee View Post
I don't know, just never got in the habit. I'm in and out of the house probably 20 times a day, often with my hands full. I've never once in my life had a problem due to not locking the doors.
As the IRA reminded Margaret Thatcher, the bad guys only have to be lucky once. You have to be lucky every time. James Michael Loren used to walk around and try unopened doors. He walked into a house on 31st with three people asleep and assaulted one. They'd left the door unlocked. Esme, we're not sure about.
http://austinchronicle.com/daily...a-killer-dead/

I wouldn't call anyone, but I wouldn't say anything either. If they persisted in knocking, I'd probably call 911. (311 automatically transfers to 911 after 6 o'clock)

If I did have to knock on someone's door at an unusual hour, I'd knock AND call out my name. "It's BeeGee" Why make someone panic if you don't have to.

If you do ask who's there, make sure you do it in a forceful, unwavering voice. Show no fear and a little bit of "are you nuts?".

Last edited by BeeGee; 01-23-2014 at 02:01 PM.
#30
Old 01-23-2014, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by BeeGee View Post
As the IRA reminded Margaret Thatcher, the bad guys only have to be lucky once. You have to be lucky every time. James Michael Loren used to walk around and try unopened doors. He walked into a house on 31st with three people asleep and assaulted one. They'd left the door unlocked. Esme, we're not sure about.
http://austinchronicle.com/daily...a-killer-dead/

.
Guess I'm just not a worrier.
#31
Old 01-23-2014, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martian Bigfoot View Post
With an apartment it's different from a house, though, because there are always people milling around. When I had just moved into this apartment, I had for some reason forgotten to lock the door one night, and some random dude just walked in while I was sleeping. He said he was looking for the exit out to the street, which I assume was the truth. At least he didn't catch me sitting around in the buff watching porn or anything, which of course I would never do anyway.
One apartment I lived in in college was a studio with a door on the outside of the building. All the other apartments in the building were accessible through the inside of the building. I wound up having to keep my door locked while I was home or I would have random strangers barging in, thinking my apartment door was the door into the building.

About a month ago my sister-in-law, who lives in Colorado Springs, was awakened by someone banging on her front door, then sounding like they were trying to break the door down. She called 911 and they sent someone out to check. Apparently it was an Air Force officer new to town who had been out drinking with his buddies and forgot where lived, and was trying to get into the wrong house. The cops told her they get about one of those every week.
#32
Old 01-23-2014, 02:32 PM
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Last time I had a middle of the night knock I could tell it was a real emergency -- I could see their car lights in the next field door: one above the other! My fault for having a light on that hour. Just a father and son out on a drunk. With some apprehension I drove them home (5 miles).
#33
Old 01-23-2014, 02:33 PM
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field next door
#34
Old 01-23-2014, 02:35 PM
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In my former house, I had a front bedroom window above the front door. I couldn't directly see it because of the shape of the front entry way, but I do recall on at least one occasion throwing open the window and yelling "What do you want?". They made excuses and I told them to fuck right off.

In my apartment, I would stumble around getting dressed, then go over near the front door and pause to listen for someone outside the door. If I didn't hear anyone, I'd go back to bed. My neighbors are sometimes assholes, or have guests who are assholes and it isn't unheard of for someone to knock on the door as they go past. One of their guests did this about 9pm just the other day.
#35
Old 01-23-2014, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Shoeless View Post
One apartment I lived in in college was a studio with a door on the outside of the building. All the other apartments in the building were accessible through the inside of the building. I wound up having to keep my door locked while I was home or I would have random strangers barging in, thinking my apartment door was the door into the building.
It's actually not as strange a mistake to make as it sounds in my building either: All the other apartment doors on my floor are inside a corridor, with mine the only one outside the corridor and close to the main door to the building. Still, everyone else seems to figure it out fine, except that one dude.

Last edited by Martian Bigfoot; 01-23-2014 at 02:48 PM.
#36
Old 01-23-2014, 02:48 PM
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I'd probably wake my wife up and have her ready to flee with the kid, I'd grab the pistol and chamber a round, but decock it (making the trigger pull longer and harder for safety), look through the peephole, and if I didn't recognize the person or see that it was someone like a cop or fireman, probably talk to them through the closed and locked door.
#37
Old 01-23-2014, 02:49 PM
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I have some aggressive sounding dogs, so I would hope any middle-of-the-night knockers would change their mind upon hearing them. I probably wouldn't answer unless I could clearly see something was wrong with the person, arm was falling off, she was hold her leg, etc. I don't know, I'd have to assess that situation.
#38
Old 01-23-2014, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by enipla View Post
We live in the sticks. I'd probably think it was some kids that got stuck in the ditch... but with everyone having cell phones now, I don't know.

The dogs would be going crazy. I'd turn on the outside lights, and see who it was. I may have a pistol with me.
This, more or less. The road I live in is narrow, winding, and unlit and has ditches and field on either side of it. This time of year, anyone who runs off it at midnight is definitely going to need help before morning. I'd be none too cheerful about it, but I'm pretty sure I'd answer the door.
#39
Old 01-23-2014, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by purplehorseshoe View Post
This is something that's always puzzled me. [ Why Renee, who lives in the middle of nowhere, never got into the habit of locking her door ] If you're home alone, why not just, y'know, go ahead and lock the door? It's not like you get some Good Citizen Merit Badge for leaving the door unlocked...
Y'know, that's actually a good question. Lemme give it a try. I likewise lived, alone, in the middle of nowhere for a few years, and it was the most bestest goodest nicest place I think I ever lived. ( Photo. )

I never locked the door. Not by day, not by night, not when I was there, not when I was out at work all day. (Except I locked it when I went on a several-day vacation.) Perhaps because the security was so flimsy (note the flimsy windows) that it couldn't have made much difference. But neither did I ever lock my car when I was there, nor when I was in the small town down the hill. I did lock my car when I was at work, down several hills away in the Medium-Smallish City.

There was always something of an exhilarating sensation of simply being in a place where I felt secure enough to do that. Not at all like the constant sense of paranoia of living in a Medium-Large (or larger) city, as I do now. Yuck. The only unexpected visitors I ever saw in the vicinity were occasional guests of the landlord who occasionally wandered by (during the day) and occasional visitations by the horse from a neighboring property.

I did refrain, however, from wandering about the property after dark. It's dark out there! Not to mention the known presence of our resident mountain lion in the neighborhood.
#40
Old 01-23-2014, 03:03 PM
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Zyanthia, did you ever find out who it was?
#41
Old 01-23-2014, 03:31 PM
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I live in a quiet suburban neighborhood where people do not just mill around in the middle of the night. Plus, I have a family which includes a young child. So, no way I'm opening the door to strange visitors in the middle of the night. If they insisted, I'd ask them if they needed me to call the police for them.
#42
Old 01-23-2014, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
It could have been an auditory hallucination. I've been awakened by what I thought was a knock or a bell, but what turned out to be some remnant of a dream.
I've had something similar to that happen to me before, and I was extremely scared about going back to sleep again!
#43
Old 01-23-2014, 04:15 PM
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The dog would go batshit (there's a bay window right next to the front door and he's HUGE and jumps up on it when people approach) so I would assume that would drive the person off. If they persisted, I'd look out that same window and ask what they wanted - the way our community is set up, mistakes are made about what house's front door goes with what garage (where the street address is displayed). It's truly an IDIOTIC mistake to make if you see the place in the daytime, but at night I can see how it might be confusing.
#44
Old 01-23-2014, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Renee View Post
Guess I'm just not a worrier.
I'm not worried, either. See, my door is locked so I don't have to worry.


Therefore, since the world has still
Much good, but much less good than ill,
And while the sun and moon endure
Luck's a chance, but trouble's sure,
I'd face it as a wise man would,
And train for ill and not for good.
#45
Old 01-23-2014, 04:54 PM
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There's no law I'm aware of anywhere in the U.S. that requires you to answer the door if someone knocks (at whatever hour).

If someone claims their car broke down or some other emergency and their cellphone has quit, I'll make a telephone call to get them help.

I can't imagine a situation in which I'd open my door to anyone at that hour except if it's a police officer and there's a marked cruiser in the driveway.
#46
Old 01-23-2014, 05:04 PM
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There must be doorbells that ding dong then big dogs barking.
#47
Old 01-23-2014, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeeGee View Post
Therefore, since the world has still
Much good, but much less good than ill,
And while the sun and moon endure
Luck's a chance, but trouble's sure,
I'd face it as a wise man would,
And train for ill and not for good.
Much less good than ill? What a sad way to see the world. I believe the good vastly outnumbers the bad, and always expect the best of people unless they give me reason to think otherwise. But, hey, whatever works for you. (And thus ends my participation in this hijack; sorry OP.)
#48
Old 01-23-2014, 05:56 PM
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The only time it's happened it was some girl looking for a party. She figured out she had the wrong place as I was answering the door. I'm wide awake at midnight so it was no big deal. I'm less likely to answer, and more concerned, at 9 am than midnight.
#49
Old 01-23-2014, 06:29 PM
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We live in a quiet suburban neighborhood and nobody ever comes to the door after about 8pm except on Halloween. The only excitement we ever had was around 2:30 am one night when I woke up to strange sounds and noises, looked out the window, and realized that the house across the street was extremely on fire. Smoke and flames everywhere, fire trucks blocking the street, fire chief using our driveway as a staging point, etc. At that point, if somebody had knocked on the door, I would have definitely opened it. But they didn't bother us.

Aside from a situation like that, though, I would go to the door with a cell phone and look through the peephole. If I didn't know the person on the other side, the door is staying locked and we can try shouting through the window.
#50
Old 01-23-2014, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Diceman View Post
I live in a quiet suburban neighborhood where people do not just mill around in the middle of the night. Plus, I have a family which includes a young child. So, no way I'm opening the door to strange visitors in the middle of the night. If they insisted, I'd ask them if they needed me to call the police for them.
I know we disagree on some things, but this isn't one of them. Lights on, and a hard look at who is (or how many are) out there. Have someone with 911 already keyed into a phone with a finger on the green button before you even say "who is it?" Maybe even call a neighbor or two across the street & ask them to turn on their porch lights too.

Creates that nice visual and unspoken statement that "I'm not surrounded. YOU are."
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