Saturday, 14 January 2012

Scaredy Cat

One evening during the week I found myself reacting in a rather out-of-character way to a ring at the doorbell.

It was not late, perhaps 7.30 or so, but it was dark and in general people do not call on me unannounced.  So I put the chain on the door and opened it about 6 inches.

A young man carrying Sky ID stood there and started to explain why I should sign up to his company for phone, TV, and broadband.

I told him I was happy as I was and had no interest in changing and additionally, that I do not like cold -calling and prefer to talk to people in daylight.

He persuaded me that he was not trying to pressure me in any way, but said hew could offer me a better deal than I have with my current supplier.  I asked h imm to come back the next afternoon, and he agreed to do so.

Just as, in  a previous post I said I cannot be moved by TV ad's, so also, no-one can persuade me to buy anything I don't want, so I don't encourage salesmen.

When  he left, I locked the door and thought, "am I being super-cautious, or am  I afraid to open the door to someone after dark?"

On reflection I think a bit of both and only two days later, I read in the local paper of a man who opened his door to a caller one evening and was stabbed by two complete strangers.  This was only half a mile from me and I hadn't even read the paper the evening I got my visitor.

When I was a child I was as my family put it "scared of my own shadow", but as I grew up became less and less wary.  To the extent that, one evening after a late rehearsal in London, having missed the last train, I set out to walk home to Bromley, a distance of 10 miles!

Most of this walk was undertaken in the middle of the road, I didn't like the shadows at the sides, and I passed no-one for at least an hour and a half.

When I reached Catford, about 2 miles from home a police patrol car stopped and asked me if I was OK.
On being assured that I was and had (only) another two miles to walk, off they went!

I have to point out that this was in the late 1960's and even if I were capable of such a walk these days I wouldn't consider it for one second.

This is a very different world from the one I grew up in.

After John's death, any trace of nervousness at being in the house alone vanished.  I suppose I felt that the worst had already happened, and that nothing worse could befall me, however, recently I have found myself checking doors and windows in a way never previously thought necessary, and the chain on the door action was the end result of this change of habit.

Of course I'm not a complete idiot and would not take unnecessary risks but when does caution become fear and where should we draw the line?

I'd be interested to  know how other people feel, perhaps particularly those who live alone?


  1. Cold callers are the scum of the earth.

  2. Cold calling is bad enough in the full daylight, but at night it's just not acceptable, Ray. Stay on your guard when he comes back. Cold-sellers are very persuasive and we recently had to rescue my dear MIL from one who had just about got her to sign up to a new electricity deal which was worse than the one she was on!

    I had to smile at the thought of you walking home through London in the middle of the road. You certainly couldn't do that nowadays without the risk of being flattened.

    Sensible precautions against break-ins are always a good idea, wherever we are, so no you're not being a scaredy-cat.

  3. Perhaps a tad harsh TS. Though I must say, it is hard to think of a good reason for after dark selling.

  4. Actually Perpetua, he came back as arranged the next afternoon with a colleague, both pleasant and not overly persuasive. They went away needless to say without an agreement.
    As for the walk home from the Bishopsgate Institute, I hadn't really thought about traffic. Amazing really isn't it when you think I walked over Waterloo Bridge, down through New Cross, Lewisham Catford and all the way to Bromley in about 2 and a quarter hours and without seeing any vehicles apart from the police car.
    Glad you think the door-chain is not an over reaction.

    1. I think we all have a duty, without getting too paranoid, of being sensible and keeping ourselves as safe as possible. I wouldn't walk around the town centre at midnight on a Saturday, no more would I open the door to an unannounced caller after dark. Any reasonable caller would understand the sense of that - in fact, they probably wouldn't call unannounced in the first place.

  5. Reassuring to know, someone in a similar situation to me (though considerably younger), doesn't think it an over-reaction Nancy.
    While I would never agree that anyone deserves to be attacked, burgled etc. there is as you say, a duty to use a modicum of common sense.

  6. Dear Ray,
    As a woman living alone, I think you were justifiably cautious. We hear--as you did the next day--of so many break-ins and beatings and rapes and other obscene things that happen when people are not cautious. And they can be people of any age. So keep that chain on the door. What I regret and rue is that we can no longer trust. We are living in fear and that is a very bad place for humanity to have journeyed.


  7. I do agree Dee, that it is a great sadness that trust as a way of life has all-but disappeared.
    Living in fear is perhaps slightly over-stating the case, (though of course it applies to some people), but looking over one's shoulder is a regrettable necessity.
    Fore-armed is as they say forewarned.