Okay, so I just don’t want cats on my property. I find this to be a very reasonable request. Yet, in the internet debate over cats being allowed to roam unrestricted outside, the arguments against this practice focus on the dangers posed to the cats themselves, which is still a self-centered argument, even if it’s on the against side. It overlooks what should be the prime reason: it’s rude to other people.
Even if letting your cat outside wasn’t inherently dangerous, it’s still pissing and shitting in my vegetable garden and digging things up. It’s being destructive to my property and hobbies, and potentially passing infectious diseases into the produce I eat. Under no condition would a rational person consider this okay.
But I’ve ranted about roaming cats before. No need to go through that futile discussion again. Instead, I decided to find a preventative measure that was more likely than changing a cat owner’s behavior.
Instead, I invested in a motion-activated ultrasonic alarm. I had limited expectations, but I haven’t caught any more cats on camera in the two days since I installed it! So I bought two more. It seems feasible that I can at last create a cat-free perimeter. The 3rd one I’ll run at a higher frequency and see if that does anything to the squirrels. That’d be a double win after last year’s tomato patch decimation.
And the camera worked for one of its intended purposes. I love it when a plan comes together.
It was a dark and dreary night (that’s how these stories begin). The relentless rain saw fit to maximize my misery, but I stood stoically indifferent, for my mind was concerned with more important matters. I withdrew and attempted to light a cigarette in the darkness as water dripped from my fedora and down the length of my tan trenchcoat. The Zippo stubbornly refused cooperation, having been dropped in the gutter a moment prior. It could have very well been my last smoke, but it was not meant to be.
A sudden gust of wind sent a chill through my bones, though the subsequent shiver was more from anxiety over events to come, rather than from the weather itself. Giving up on the cigarette, I placed it back in its pack, steeled my nerves, and knocked on the door.
Okay, that’s not exactly how it happened. Here I am in an undershirt and pajamas on my front porch, trying to coerce someone within to wake and open the door:
The back door, one of those of the irritating sliding variety (going to be replaced with a French door one day), had one of those equally-irritating locking mechanisms in which the user must flip a switch to engage a hook against a notch. But unlike a standard deadbolt, the user has no form of immediate feedback that the lock has successfully engaged, as the switch will still flip even when the lock is shy of the frame, thus necessitating the user to test the lock by attempting to open the door. If the door opens, it must be slammed shut and the lock tried again.
And my door, being ancient, requires much force to turn the lock, resulting in a repeated slam/push/switch/pull maneuver until the pull results in a stuck door, thus indicating a successfully-engaged lock.
The point being, that it’s impossible to accidentally lock oneself out of the house via the back door.
But as it turns out (after much subsequent testing), that if the lock is engaged before the door is shut, that the hook will simply bounce over and into the notch, thus locking the door. This method had never occurred to me, for who would lock a door before closing it?
But on this night, someone had done just that. I know not which girl to blame, for both are equally inept at locking doors and windows. Many a time have I realized that a bedroom window had been unlocked for an unknown period of time. So now my lockdown procedures involve checking every single window lock every single morning, which considerably delays my morning departure time.
But anyway, this night–the night of the ineffectually-locked back door–it had started to rain. It was late, around 11, and I was drifting off to some Twilight Zone. I realized the grill hadn’t been covered, so I went out to do just that. I opened the back door, closed it, covered the grill, and attempted to re-enter my abode via said back door. And the door had locked itself. And I found myself standing outside in pajamas without keys or phone, and it was raining. And I had recently completed my rounds wherein I lock all the windows that previously had been unlocked by one of the girls. In short, there was no way in.
So I rang the doorbell, and heard its distinctive chime emanating from my phone upon the coffee table. I had counted on the alarm waking Liz, but she had apparently imbibed in some horse-tranquilizers (or laudanum–I dunno quizzicallywhat she takes, but it sure does knock her out), and remained unconscious through the screeching cacophony. I considered trying to wake the kid, but refrained. It was apparent I was going to have to bang on a bedroom window, and such a terrifying means by which to be awoken should be reserved for my one true love.
I hammered on the bedroom window and yelled, at once thankful that we lived on a dead-end. And eventually, a face cautiously peered from around the curtain. A worried and bewildered face–the kind awoken from the wrong sleep cycle.
The lesson: leave another avenue for entrance when wandering out into the night. And get a velociraptor mask, because that totally would have been worth being locked outside until morning.
Part of homeownership, I’ve noticed, is the increased onslaught of people who want to sell me things I don’t need. But in the interest of civility, as I myself have worked for many years interacting with the public, I exercise good manners. But, as with telemarketers, these door-to-door salesman tend to be over-aggressive. If they simply introduced themselves and their services, then handed me a pamphlet, I’d be much more inclined to consider whatever they happen to be peddling. But that’s never the case.
Despite popular belief, humans are very adept at reading each others’ intent from body language and facial cues. It’s a primal instinct intended for self-preservation. And while I doubt this man showed up at my door to kill me, he certainly read as disingenuous.
So began the myriad of sales tactics. He was selling a service to spray for bugs. He informed me that my neighbors were already buying it and were happy. He assured me that the spraying was invisible, so it wouldn’t mar the otherwise beautiful external appearance of our home and therefore keep my wife happy. He pointed out the ants and carpenter bees as potential victims. He then motioned to record some info and asked if I would be home tomorrow.
I had once made the mistake of providing an alternate electricity provider my email. It took months to get my junk filters configured to delete the spam, and the phone calls continued for a year. Despite which, that last question was incredibly presumptuous, as if I had already agreed and taking down my info was just a formality.
Repeated polite denials eventually conveyed my disinterest, and he left. Perhaps gated communities aren’t nearly as dumb as I had once thought.
Earlier this year I installed a Ring video doorbell. And thankfully, the majority of its motion captures involve routine comings and goings, with a smattering of false triggers.
But then it captured validation to paranoia. One morning, as I left work, I noticed a plain white van parked in front of the house, with a simple label: “Sewer Inspection”. Now, the sewer line was indeed replaced prior to our purchasing the house, but according to the neighbors it had been done by a certain prominent company, and I know from casual observation that their vans are decorated.
Adding to the suspicion was that the man inside the van never approached the house while I was home, nor did he look up to meet my gaze as I was leaving. And a half hour after I left for work, the doorbell did its job and sent me an alert:
He also wandered around nowhere near the sewer line. Liz thought he might be looking to steal the edging. It does appear that he’s examining it.
Maybe it was a legit inspection, but nothing about it seemed right, and that usually means it isn’t. I think it’s time for more cameras.