The Break-In

There was a break-in at my house last week. Sort of.

I was there just sitting in the living room when my front door popped wide open. I figured it was my roommate, who had left to run an errand not long before, returning, but it wound up being a strange man.

"Hi?" I said. He mumbled something incomprehensible and let himself up the stairs. Perplexed, I sprinted toward the staircase to try to catch him, which is when I encountered two women - presumably a mother and teenager daughter - letting themselves into my house as well.

"What is going on?" I asked.
"We're here to look at the apartment," the younger one said.
"Uh, why?" I said.
"The room for rent. He's showing us the room for rent."
"I.. wha… uh… there's no room for rent. I live here."

We continued to try to hash out the details a bit more, but I realized the longer I talked to the women, the longer the man upstairs was unattended. "Look, you're welcome to come in, but there's no room for rent here," I said before running to find the man. [I probably didn't have to be so nice as to invite potential intruders in, but I was frantic and unsure of how to deal with the situation.]

Upstairs, I found the man stumbling up and down the hallway. When I got a good look at this face, I realized he might be a former neighbor of mine who I hadn't seen in a long time, but he looked especially sickly. It didn't seem like he was stealing anything, so I asked, "Are you all right?" and kind of gently coaxed him back downstairs. I couldn't understand his mumbled Spanish, but I was pretty sure he wasn't a threat to me.

At the women's request, I called the landlady to see if there was actually a room for rent anywhere in the compound. She told me no, and urged me to call the police to get the people out of my place. I told her that it probably wasn't necessary because whatever was going on seemed like a mistake, not malicious.

It turns out it was my old neighbor after all. He had spent a long time in the hospital after being diagnosed with a brain tumor and his mind wasn't right anymore. He wasn't just sort of confused, he was terribly confused, and somehow the ladies got pulled into his story that my apartment was for rent. The women apologized profusely, but I assured them there was nothing to apologize for, and we called the man's daughter to come take care of him.

Meanwhile, we're being more proactive about locking the door because you never know when someone's going to let themselves in and try to rent out your home when you're not looking.

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