Hump Day: Late night doorbell-ringing: harmless prank or vandalism?

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

When your doorbell rings at 11 p.m., you would expect to find a friend standing there with tears rolling down her face announcing that she’s just left her husband for leaving his underwear on the floor – again.

Or someone who’s been in an accident in front of your house needing help. Or an alien who’s landed on your front lawn and wondering if you’re in the mood for a scientific probe where the sun doesn’t shine.

A couple of weeks ago, it happened to me. (No, not the alien part – I mean the doorbell part.) Anyway, it’s 11 p.m. and I’m working away in my home office and I hear the ding dong of the front doorbell. Of course, it freaked me out – because nothing good can come from a doorbell ringing at 11 p.m. It’s not as if the lottery people would be standing there with a big fat cheque waiting to tell me that the non-winning ticket I tore up yesterday and threw in the trash was really a winner.

The doorbell has rung at 11 p.m. about six times before, I believe. The first two times were years ago when a certain neighbourhood kid was causing trouble. Three other times, it was the same pizza delivery guy who couldn’t read a map. I won’t tell you which pizza shop he worked for, but let’s just say I never want to play dominoes again.

The third time Christopher Columbus the pizza delivery guy rang the doorbell and banged on the door (within about five seconds of ringing the doorbell), I was not amused and he knew it. He had the street number right. Unfortunately, the street itself was wrong. I didn’t exactly give him a tongue lashing, but it didn’t take him long to figure out I wasn’t pleased. He high-tailed it out of my driveway pretty fast and sped off to his intended destination a couple of streets over.

Another time my doorbell rang late at night was some young lady who was stoned out of her gourd. She’d left her bicycle at the curb, walked up to my front door, rang the doorbell and then when I answered, asked if I had a light for her cigarette. Because, you know, that’s a perfectly sensible thing to do in a quiet residential neighbourhood at 11 p.m. I think my answer was perfectly clear when my head split open and the hounds of hell came out. It didn’t take her long to get back on her bicycle. (Please note: Even stoned people can run fast if they have the right incentive, i.e. hounds of hell.)

So, a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk working away when I heard,‘Ding dong!’ My heart skipped a beat and then the dog started barking her furry little brains out just to make sure I knew someone was at the door. Yes, dear, I hear you. The entire planet hears you. Dead people hear you. Now, stop yapping and come protect me when I answer the door to what is most certainly a major threat to my safety – perhaps some escaped madman with a chainsaw waiting to turn me into filet mignon.

alienI approached the door and turned on the outside light, expecting to see a shadow of someone there. Didn’t see anything. Maybe the guy was kneeling down and hiding his chainsaw – you know, so as to trick me to answer the door. Or maybe the alien – who I assumed would be quite short – was standing there with his little glow-in-the-dark bow tie and a bouquet of flowers to ask me nicely to come over to the UFO for my probe.

I decided to throw caution to the wind and opened the door. No one was there. No Christopher Columbus with his wayward pizza. No lustful alien. No strange girl tripping on drugs trying to bum a light. Eventually, I figured out that I’d been ding-dong ditched – the classic pastime of generations of young males who get their jollies ringing the doorbell and then running away.

I went online right away to see if anyone else had been visited. Eventually, I discovered that there was a crew of teen males roaming around ringing doorbells. I did manage to see a couple of them when I looked outside. They were walking very fast – and started running when they noticed that I’d seen them. And trust me, they were old enough to know better – at least 16 or 17. These weren’t pre-pubescent pranksters.

I decided to call the police to let them know. No, I didn’t expect mass arrests or anything – nor did I call 911. I just called the regular dispatch number. They actually were quite helpful and sent a patrol out right away. About 30 minutes later, the police called back and said they hadn’t found the dastardly ding-dongers.

What surprised me, though, was the reaction of some after I posted it online. A few told me I was overreacting. Some said the kids should be left alone because, “It’s what kids do.” And how dare I ruin their fun? Really? Are you kidding me?

Well, how about the senior citizens who they scared the daylights out of by ringing their doorbells at 11 p.m.? How about the young children who were awakened? How about the people who needed to get up early the next day and who needed their sleep? Are they really expected to put up with some yahoos roaming around the neighbourhood at 11 p.m. and trespassing onto their properties? I don’t think so.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not as if anyone died or anything. The police told me when they called back that they did see evidence of minor vandalism from the gang roaming around, but still. I just don’t get how some people were just so lackadaisical about it – pretty much implying the idiots had the right to do it.

No, they didn’t have the right to do it. They didn’t have the right to come onto my property. I just don’t get it. I could be disappointed in the idiots who were doing the deed, but I think I was more disappointed in the adults who thought they had the right to do it.

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