Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I'm not interested, I tell you!

I admit I'm a little paranoid in Tucson sometimes. It's not as safe as other places I've lived, and it certainly doesn't compare to Damascus or Amman when it comes to basic street safety. As a result, I find myself feeling suspicious of almost any stranger I pass on the road, or anyone loitering outside of the library or grocery store (that all have security guards posted outside, by the way).

Everyone here has steel security doors and bars on their windows, which is hard to get used to since I grew up in a place where those things aren't necessary. There are also these police helicopters that sometimes hover over our area of town at night, scanning the roads with a huge spotlight looking for who knows what kind of criminal. That kind of thing doesn't happen so much in the area of town in which we live now, but it was an almost everyday occurence when we lived in an apartment next to I-10.

Today, while Miriam was taking a nap, a stranger came to our (metal security) door. He rang the doorbell a couple of times, but I didn't answer it since I didn't recognize him. An hour later, after Miriam woke up, I took her out to go get the mail.

At this point, I neglected to do two things that I usually do. First, I didn't lock the door behind me. The mailbox is just at the end of our lane, but I've heard enough stories of bad guys getting into unlocked houses to convince me it's necessary. Second, I didn't bring my cell phone with me.

All was well until I approached our mailbox and realized that the guy who rang my doorbell well over an hour ago was now standing at the end of our lane, just hanging out. I walked slowly to see if maybe he had some business he was attending to, but it appeared that he was just standing there. We got our mail, crossed the street to visit with the cows, and then slowly, I started back to our house. The guy was still there and my paranoid self was now really wondering what he was doing.

At this point, I was mad at myself for a) not locking the door behind me, lest this guy's accomplice was getting in the house even at this moment, and b) not bringing my phone with me so I could complain to the police.

Then he approached me, and said he was selling vacations to earn money for college, or something. He held out his little ID certificate, as if it was something any bad guy couldn't make on his home computer. When he was finished with his initial pitch, I told him I wasn't interested. He persisted, and I kept repeating that I wasn't interested.

He was getting kind of aggressive and finally I just started walking back to the house. I checked behind me to make sure he wasn't following me. When I got there, I closed and locked the security door halfway to, yes, make for a quick escape if I found a bad guy in my house.

Then I called my mom (Jeremy was in class) so I could be talking on the phone with someone just in case something happened. With her on the line, I searched the whole house for a bad guy and fortunately, I didn't find anyone. Even so, I was glad to know that if something had happened, at least my mom could have called the police for me. And also, the bad guy would know that someone knew of my existence.

Laugh at me if you will. Maybe I am too paranoid.

I do wonder if these salesmen ever actually make any sales. In my book, pressuring and bullying does not make me want to look favorably upon your product. Even if it is to raise money for college.


Matthew said...

Wow, that's an unbelievably bad salesjob.

Firas A.J said...

Oh no, what a coincidence!! Just the other day I was telling my wife about the same safety issue in Tucson!!
Last April, I had to attend a two weeks intensive course in Tucson at the international tweed foundation in E.broadway. Although I didn't have much time to go around the city, but these few times I walked to target to get some drinks were enough to be stopped by the police and get interrogated about my suspicious late night walk. The funniest part is that the police man started speaking in spanish with me, and got really offended when I expressed my ignorance of that language.

Anyway, I am a huge syrian fan of your other blogs but I've never come across this one!

Thank you very much for writing about your adventures in Syria from an american prespective. It's greatly helping me on a personal level with my american wife (who has never been to Syria yet,and only believes what she reads online!) to show her the true face of Syria and of Damascus in particular.

Convey my greetings to little Myriam and to Jeremy. He pulled a big laugh out of me when I saw that he was trying to translate "yehree' hareeshak" into english! ;)



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