Even in the daytime, I generally like to keep the drapes closed and the blinds down. It's not that I'm doing anything shady or illegal, despite what some may think, and it's nothing personal. I just like my privacy. At night, then, it's a no-brainer -- drapes closed.
Recently I was sitting in the TV room, watching the 11pm news, when I saw the outside motion detector lights go on. I was unfazed. There's a black cat that's adopted our mudroom as its home, and frequently sets off the motion detector while wandering about the driveway, hunting for its next meal or waiting for me or one of my roommates to let it back into the mudroom.
Then I saw a shadow go by the window.
This clearly wasn't the cat, who is not the Shaq of felines. It was a human silhouette. It also wasn't my landlord/roommate, who was in her room, nor was it my other roommate, who works graveyard shift. As a general rule I feel safe in my surroundings, but you never know in Fitchburg (or anywhere, for that matter). The landlord/roommate says in the past she's been victimized by break-ins.
With one hand on my phone, ready to call the police, I went over to the driveway window and peered through the blinds. It was a woman who lives up the street, who occasionally brings the black cat back here when she sees it while walking her dog. She often opens the door and lets herself into the mudroom. I'm not a big fan of that -- as mentioned earlier, I like my privacy -- but the landlord/roommate doesn't seem to mind so I let it go.
I have to draw the line somewhere, though, and in this case that line gets drawn at 11:10pm. She scared the crap out of me. If someone was trying to break in through the TV room, I would be the first person they'd encounter.
Now that I know the situation is not cop log-worthy, I open the door to the mudroom, where she's now playing with the cat. [Blogger's note: the cat doesn't have a name, partially because there's a dispute as to whether it's male or female, and I have no interest in fact-checking its gender. Apologies for the ambiguous writing.]
"Hi, can I help you?" I ask her.
"Oh, I'm just bringing the cat back," she said.
"The cat will be fine," I said. "It's a cat. It's used to being outside."
"I know, but--"
"Do you think it's appropriate to walk into someone else's house uninvited at 11:10 at night?"
She squirmed and look down at the floor. "Well, I, umm--"
"I almost called the police on you because I thought you were a burglar. Please don't walk in here this late at night again."
"I'm sorry," she said, dashing out.
The next thing I did was talk to the landlord/roommate, who agreed that 11:10pm was a little late for a cat shuttle service. She said she would talk to the neighbor. I don't know if that talk ever happened. But since then the neighbor has kept her cat-depositing duties to normal daylight hours. Sometimes common sense prevails.