Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Who's at my door?

A few weeks ago I heard a knock on the door. As I opened it a man started to tell me a story. Something about my next door neighbor and that his girlfriend took his car, leaving him without gas or money. Truth be told I've never seen him before. He didn't look familiar at all and few days later I confirmed with people at my leaving office that the unit next to mine was still vacant. Luckily I rarely keep cash in my apartment at all, so I didn't have to lie when I said I didn't have any money to give him. At first I understood his tale as wanting to borrow a lighter, get a cigarette or get a ride, because those things appeared there as well, but I couldn't accommodate him as I don't drive and I don't smoke. Right the and there I got a sense that he doesn't live here at all, but I didn't feel that I was in any kind of danger. Truthfully if he wanted to he could have forced his way inside and push me in. It's funny how safe I feel in that little gated square in the middle of downtown that is Arligton Square. With homeless people, bars ad drunks all around us, you'd think that more dangerous things would be happening here. My complex is - mostly because of the location- one of the high end properties in town. And it's relatively calm. Last weekend Jehovah Witnesses were going around the complex with their good word, but I just waited it out when I heard them knocking. Once a homeless lady was going door to door asking for money and water and another time a man tried to sell me subscriptions, but situations like that are very rare. When I shared my story on social media my friends reacted saying I should be more mindful  and take a better care about myself. My friend Matt suggested that I should by an electronic device  he found on Amazon, a camera  that helps to see who's at the door. I felt it was all a little excessive, but I went with his advice. I grew up in Warsaw, where you couldn't put too many locks on your door and you'd put layers of metal around them to make them thicker. We also had a gate in the hallway, an intercom with locked main entrances and every floor and a gated balcony. In Gainesville apartments for rent have typically one lock. And we feel safe. I grew up on American movies where an apartment with a single tenant would become a scene of some scary foul play, enhanced by tension music creeping in. As a child,  I always felt that living single would be a scary experience for me with every unexpected sound keeping in my toes. When I was seven I would look behind the open door before entering a room to make sure no one was hiding there. But I grew out of it. And I like my apartment. My friend was right- my peephole was too high for me and if I tried to lower it I'd be seeing crotches, not faces. This thing takes a picture of every person ringing the built in bell. Removing the old one, that was a bit painted over was a bit tricky, but I asked my friends to do it and they brought tools. The camera has a cable that goes through the hole and connects to a mini  monitor on the other side. Replacing battery requires taking a bit of it apart and it didn't glue to the door as well as it was supposed to so it's hanging a bit from the wire, but for 40 or so dollars I got my money's worth. I have a clear indication of who's at my door and when and I  have something louder than knocking telling me to get to it. It's convenient. I don't know if I feel safer with it, but I know my friends do- about me.

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