Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My adventure in the neighbourhood

Yesterday I took the dog for a walk around lunchtime. We walked our usual route, partway up the hill into the neighbourhood above our home, then back down. The local bus stops along the route, and it did this yesterday as we were walking by. A man got off the bus, followed by what looked like a teenage girl. The man hopped back on the bus as the girl started down the street. Then the man got back off the bus and shouted at her, "HEY! Where are you going? That way!" The bus left. The girl turned and walked back to the bus stop, then continued down the street with the man, walking away from me and the dog.

I walked down the stairway toward my home, thinking, "There's something not right." The feeling was strong enough that I turned around, went back up the stairs and went to look for them. I thought, "If it turns out that girl has been abducted, I don't want to know that I saw something and ignored it." Very quickly I spotted the man, a couple hundred meters up a sides street. He stood beside a driveway. A moment later the girl came out of the driveway and they both walked down the hill toward me. I allowed the dog to sniff a patch of grass, while I stood and watched. As they passed by me I saw that the girl was actually a young woman. Her clothing and slight build made her look younger, but her face was old - probably older than her real age. Both the man and the woman had that tired, hard, partly closed-up look that people do when life is not easy for them. They were wearing jeans and nice coats, and the woman had leather gloves and dress boots, but something about them looked sad.

I followed them along the main road, just a hundred meters or so behind. The man was talking to the woman in an imposing tone. She wasn't talking. Every couple of houses he would say something, and she would approach a front door of a house and knock while he stood on the sidewalk a few houses down. They went to about 4 front doors in this manner. I stood far enough back that I wasn't sure if anyone answered the door at any of the houses. They could see me clearly. About this time I called the police. I felt concerned to know that the young woman was safe. I felt concerned that maybe they were thinking about breaking into a house. I also wanted to know if they needed help. We have a temporary shelter program now in our community. Maybe they needed a place to stay, and not everyone knows yet that there's an option in our neighbourhood. Part of me wanted to go up and ask them if they needed help. The other part said, "wait."

The police operator kept me talking on the phone as I followed the two people. I gave descriptions and explained what I had seen. She said a police car was on the way. After a few houses, the woman stopped knocking on doors and the man and woman walked along the sidewalk. They turned a corner and kept going. I kept following. Then I saw what I thought was the police, so the operator said I could hang up. It turned out to be a bylaw officer. I walked over to his truck, and asked if he could radio the police to let them know where we all were. He said okay, and I kept following the people. It was pouring rain, and I think the dog thought I was crazy. She was wet as a seal and we were way off our usual route, but oh well. She's a good dog, and she's big and black, so she was helping me feel safe.

Now the bylaw officer was following me, following the people. I think he wanted to make sure I was safe and that everything was under control.

Finally the police arrived. I saw an officer get out of the car and go over and talk with the man and the woman. I turned around and walked home quickly. I didn't want to be standing around after the police left. First I went over and thanked the bylaw officer for his help.

About 10 minutes later, my phone rang. It was the police officer. He told me that the man and woman said they were going door to door looking for work cleaning gutters. He told me that they weren't dressed for cleaning gutters and had no tools. He asked me if I could tell him which houses they visited, because he was going to go knock on the doors and ask owners what happened. I did my best to describe which ones. I asked the officer if the man and woman needed a place to stay or any help. He said no. He knows these people. They have a place to stay. By this time I was home. I went into my nice warm house with a Christmas tree and everything we possibly need in the world. I dried off the dog (she was soaked!) and made some lunch and sat down to calm myself.

Later I told Andy and the kids about it. Fiona said, "really? you followed them?" I told her yes I did. I told her that I didn't expect her to follow someone when she was out walking the dog. We talked about why I felt safe (the phone, our dog, daylight, lots of neighbours around). I also told her I thought that I looked more imposing that she would, if she was following a suspicious-acting adult. "Yeah, she said - OH, LOOK! A middle aged woman with an old dog and a cell phone - RUN!"

question: do you know this feeling?

mompoet - still a bit jazzed and sad and curious


Cliterati said...

Of course you should watch out for the woman walking her dog with a cellphone. It's always those you least expect who are up to something!
That's such an odd feeling, but I've had it here and there.It's good to trust those inklings and have it be nothing or nothing much than to disregard them and then read about something bad in the paper the next day or so.
Several years ago, my neighbors and I kept hearing these fights in an apartment down the hall.It's always tricky to gauge that sort of thing. But we talked it over. We all felt tookie.Well, eventually the fights did escalate.There were noises of things breaking and that was it.We knew as well that there was a girl in there, about age 7.The cops said we did the right thing.the guy was wanted on some other stuff, but those intitial dramatic feelings, just raw, gut instincts---we should hear them in part because they are out of the ordinary, but that also makes them more difficult to decipher.
Good dog!

Lazy Daisy said...

Wow, you are much braver than I am. My hubby would follow through but I wouldn't follow anyone. You go're my hero! Merry Christmas!

Muhd Imran said...

A concerned citizen, a big black dog and a cellphone. 3 good combination, never loose any one of them.

You're a brave soul and a wonderful person. Any couple in need would feel blessed to cross paths with you.

Merry Christmas!!!

Carol said...

I wouldn't have followed suspicious people but I have phoned the police about them...