Friday, May 29, 2009

If you can't trust your neighbors, who can you trust?

I was talking to my mom on the phone a week or two ago and asking what she was up to. She told me she was getting rid of the bed frame in my brother Cody's old room and moving in a new one.

Well, what are you going to do with the old one? I asked, like any self-respecting twenty-something would do. And she kindly said that if we wanted it she would send it up to us.

Since we moved in together about 4 years ago we have never had a bed frame. Our bed has always sat, sadly, directly on the floor. It was fine for a time but when I heard we could have our very own frame I felt like I had just moved up in the world.

We talked it through and once the items had been shipped my mom notified me and I told her how very excited I was. There were three boxes - two of them were mailed via UPS and they contained the wood boards for underneath the bed, the legs and the accessories (screws, etc.) The other box held the head board and base board and was substantially larger. Around 80 pounds. It was so large that it needed to be sent via freight.

In the meantime I started fantasizing about how cool our room could be if we built this bed frame and worked a little of our crafty-DIY mojo to have the room have an actual "flow" or "plan". Maybe I'll do one large stencil of something on the wall, or maybe it just needed some flowers and plants to lighten it up, who knows - the sky is the limit really. No doubt the bed would be rearranged and the dressers would live in different corners. It was almost like we were moving.

My mom and I emailed each other during the week saying "it's on its way" and "I can't wait." etc etc. On Friday I emailed her and said that I hadn't received the first two boxes the day before, like I had thought, but maybe all three would come today? I asked. She wrote back and said that she received emails saying both packages had been delivered. I knew for sure we hadn't received them. After about 15 minutes of discussions it became clear that my mom, bless her heart, got my address wrong by one number and sent the package to 425 instead of 325. The packages had been signed for and accepted, so who knew if we'd ever get them back - but at least we knew where to track them down. I called Jon and asked him to head over to 425 before the third and final package arrived.

"Call me back afterward" I said.

When Jon called me back he said. "Dude. You know who lives at 425? It's that Santa dude. you know, the crazy guy?"

Of course I knew who he was talking about.

"Well I am freaked out by him and so is the neighbor" he said.

Now, let me back up for a hot second by saying that one time Jon and I were walking our dogs passed this guy's house and we somehow got to talking to him. He was hard to understand and when I finally caught on I realized that he was OUT OF HIS FUCKING MIND. Just a really strange, really crazy, really random dude. We caught glimpses into his back windows and porch as we talked and I got the feeling that he was the kind of guy that drove around in his big red truck picking items up off of the side of the street and selling them later at garage sales - if not putting them somewhere in his overly crammed house. Eventually the man started talking about how in China, they eat dogs that look a lot like our dogs. He was the kind of guy that you felt could certainly be capable of having someone chained up in his bathroom for months. He is very round and has a very large and unkempt beard.

In short: my bed frame packages could not have ended up at a worse location in one of America's largest housing complexes.

When Jon called me back he said that a young Asian girl answered the door and after looking around sort of suspiciously she said that if a package was there she would need to talk to her landlord before it was returned.

We couldn't figure out what she meant by "landlord" unless someone was subletting their place, which as far as we knew was against our renters agreement. I thought, maybe she is a foreign exchange student...and then I felt really sorry for her having ended up at psycho Santa's place.

I spent the afternoon just stewing about it - my mom did the same at her work. I told all my coworkers about it, shocked by the outrage that they wouldn't just return my package. I started thinking of all of the things that I would say and do if the crazy guy tried to give me the run around.

"Sir, I KNOW that you have my package"
"I WILL call the police if you don't return it".
"I'll sit out here all day everyday until you give me my packages"
"I think it's illegal to have people sub-letting your place, shall we call complex security? Hmmm???"

I checked in with Jon a little bit later, frustrated by the lack of progress. "Dude, Jon, I'm just going to march over there the second I get home and demand my package" and he said "Dude. Allie. You are not going over there alone."

Eventually, while I was still at work, he got a phone call saying that he could go and pick up the packages. RELIEF washed over me.

When he called to say that the boxes were safely at home he added that while he was creeped out before, he was now OFFICIALLY very creeped out. While he picked up the box, three other young Asian girls crowded around the door, saying hello and waving to him.

"What?!?! You mean they have Santa, his old strange wife and FOUR young Asian girls living in that one place??"

"I guess so dude, it was so weird man, I'm glad to be done." He said.

We spent the next few days talking about why on Earth the crazy guy had at least 4 young Asian women crammed in his two bedroom townhouse. It not only creeped us out but got us genuinely concerned for whatever was going on at 425 which, after all, is just a block or two down from our place.

A few days after the bed had finally been put together and after we had had several nights of truly amazing sleep, we were taking our next door neighbor's dog for a walk (a story in it's own right that will come later this week). We were walking by crazy Santa's place and we said "Man, it's still just so weird".

But wait a minute, I thought. Santa lives at Four-Twenty-THREE. Not 425. "Jon what the hell??"

Turns out that the crazy guy NEVER had our bed frame and that the young Asian girls were probably, the four of them, roommates - because come to think of it, it is kind of a college community that we live in.

I'd like to blame Jon (sweet boy) for the simple misunderstanding that led me and in turn my mother and ALL of my coworkers to worry about the townhouse-brothel of Daly City. But I think the bigger point here is that over-reacting is never cool and what's more, when you make assumptions, you make an ASS out of U and ME.