So I was actually just sitting down to put an update on my site here about something in a dream of last night, and I heard someone moving around in the apartment. I decided I was hungry, and also I could see who was up. I got up, and I walked out into the living room, and I seemed to notice someone on the stairwell out of the corner of my eye. I almost just kept walking, but I looked back, and there was a guy trying to open the door.
He said "Could you open the door?"
I walked over to him, and I said "Who are you?"
"Could you open the door?"
"Er...who are you?" I repeated.
"My name is Rich, could you open the door?" I looked in his hands, and he was holding my PS2, and my controller. He was having trouble opening our door, as many of my guests have had, who don't know that you have to give the knob a solid turn all the way to the left, the opposite of how most doors work.
"Er, I can't let you just take that..." I then looked around, and noticed, much to my relief, that he seemed unarmed.
"I'll give it to you, I'll give it to you, just open the door and I'll give it to you."
"Sure, just give it to me, and I'll open the door." I'm looking around a little while he's saying this, I contemplate banging on Ian and Katie's door, but I worry that if I do, he might panic.
We sort of repeat our last sentences a bit, and eventually he gives it to me first, and I go to the door and I open it with a turn of the wrist. He moves to the doorway, the garage is still pitch black. He's still holding my controller, but I don't say anything else, I'm just glad to get my PS2 back. His voice has been gradually moving more and more towards the edge of panic. It's still controlled, he's not yelling, but it's clear he's scared, he doesn't want to hurt anybody, he just wants to get out.
"You're sure this is the way out?"
"Yes, right through the door. Here, I'll turn on the light." I turn on the garage light. He looks around, warily.
"You sure this is the way out?"
"Yeah, just go right through the door, it's not even locked." He leaves.
That whole thing may have only sounded like a 30 second ordeal...but it seemed like it took forever...maybe it only felt that way. During the whole thing my voice was as calm and soothing as can be, thank goodness. The guy was very afraid, and if I had gotten loud or angry that this man had come in stealing my stuff, then maybe bad things would have happened.
So, I went and I knocked loudly on Katie and Ian's door, and said "Guys? Guys, you're going to have to wake up." Eventually, Katie came to the door and I told her what happened. She actually didn't seem to grasp exactly what I meant when I was telling her that I had seen a guy, and he was holding my PS2 and trying to get out, until I then appended "He was robbing us.", where her jaw gaped. I understand, it just shows how totally we were not thinking anything like that was going to happen to our little haven here.
So I closed and locked the living room windows (he had come in through one of them), and I'm going to put a lock on my own window tomorrow. It's so unbelievable that the only reason this guy didn't get clean off with my PS2 was because of our weird doorknob. It's always been a cute object of eccentricity to chuckle at when guests couldn't get out, and I had to go open it with a smooth flick of the wrist and then chuckle at the chagrin on their faces, but now it saved me $200 and a lot of my mental wellbeing.
I actually think it would have been worse for me to have just woken up in the morning and seen my stuff gone and the window open. This way, at least, I do not suffer from the feeling of powerlessness, even though I am in a lot of respects lucky. OK, insanely lucky, lucky that I came out of my room at the right time, lucky I noticed him out of the corner of my eye, lucky that he was unarmed, lucky that he was stopped by our freaking weird doorknob, lucky that I didn't get myself hurt or killed getting my PS2 back, lucky that whatever instinct that I'm blessed with kept everything calm.
You know, I don't think a lot of people really get to interact with their robber like that. I kind of feel lucky, in a way, that I got to really experience that, because it's really a very pure interaction...there's not much societally implanted mental bureaucracies to go through in something like that. It's just person and person, one scared and trying to get out, and one scared and trying to stay safe and get his stuff back. Robber vs. robbed is a relationship that's been around since the cavemen days, but nowadays the interaction between the two is gone. You don't get to experience such fundamental situations much anymore.