A New Old Lawnmower, Creeps in the Neighborhood, and Radio Silence from State College

On Saturday we went looking at new lawnmowers, since ours was still nothing but a prop.  The grass was getting tall again, and I can’t afford (financially or emotionally) to pay some dude forty bucks per week to mow it.  And I learned that a decent mower is freaking expensive.

Since our yard is like a football field on a slant, I need a self-propelled model.  If I shoved one of the old 1970s-style mowers back and forth across that crap, my shins would probably burst into flames.  And since I hate to buy the absolute cheapest of anything — I prefer the mushy middle — we were looking at roughly $300.  Just to get back to where we were a few weeks ago…  Grrr…

We returned home without buying anything, and I decided to check craigslist.  Maybe I could find a good used model?

Some dude in Dunmore, a town not too far from us, had a self-propelled Craftsman listed, for $140.  I called him, and… long-story short, he delivered it to our house an hour later.  It’s definitely used, but seems to have been well-maintained.  I ended up giving him $120 for it, and mowed our yard that same evening.

So, we’re back in business.  At least with the lawn…  The dishwasher is still deader than the Class of 1924, but at least one of our many aggravations has been rectified.

Heh… rectified.

Yesterday our younger boy was home alone for an hour or so, and something weird happened.  He was downstairs killing zombies or whatever on the BAT, when Andy started barking.  Our son went to investigate, and saw a white beat-to-shit van driving slowly past our house.

He stood and watched, and the van went on down the street, but suddenly braked and came back.  It stopped near our driveway, and some scraggly meth-freak looking guy got out and walked toward our house.  Andy, needless to say, was going completely wild, and our son retreated to the family room downstairs.

He called Toney, who was nearby and said she’d be there in two minutes.  Andy continued going ass-over-tits, so he peeked around the corner of the stairs, and saw the guy standing on our porch, looking through our front windows.

What the hell, man??  He never knocked or rang the doorbell, he was just peering into our house through a window.

He left before Toney arrived, and she went looking for the white van.  But she didn’t find it.  She did call the police, however, and they didn’t seem too concerned — since ol’ Jesus Beard never threatened anyone, or tried to break in, or anything.

But I don’t care for it.  I think the guy WANTED to break in, and chose our house because there were no cars in the driveway.  If Andy hadn’t been snarling in his face, it might have been a bad, bad scene.

Creepy shit…

And speaking of the Secrets, the older boy has been almost completely incommunicado since he went to Penn State.  I know it’s only been since Sunday, but we haven’t heard jack shit from him since the first night.  Toney texted him yesterday, to see if he was OK, and he replied (two hours later), “Yeah.”  An absolute font of information!

I guess it’s to be expected, but it would be nice to get a brief report once per day.  Ya know?  Just a short update.  Oh well.  I’m trying not to allow my imagination to run wild, but it’s not an easy thing to turn off.

And I need to be at work today and tomorrow one hour earlier than normal.  So, I gotta call it day.

For a Question, please tell us your stories about home break-ins, or creepy strangers in your neighborhood similar to our meth-freak window guy.

Also, have you had any positive or negative experiences with craigslist?  I think that mower transaction was my first time using it.  I think…

I’ll see you guys again tomorrow.

Have a great day!

Now playing in the bunker
Crossroads Road in paperback, available now!


    • Phantom Railfan says

      I don’t want to sound too terribly paranoid, but things are getting potentially dicey. First the extensive cyberattack on the website, now an unknown party snooping around the house. Is it possible Jeff that anybody could have been rankled by the contents of the site (or the novel) enough to attempt some kind of “retaliation?” The problem with noteriety (even minor low-level noteriety) is that it tends to draw all manner of kookery out of the woodwork along with the deserved kudos and acknowledgement.

      Something else to consider: The Craigslist lawnmower dude may have been scoping out your house, assuming the incident with the secret occured after the transaction. Keep your heads up and your eyes open…

      • Phantom Railfan says

        In terms of my own experience with creepy strangers:

        Years ago, my parents were heavily involved in the non-eccumenical leadership of their church, and about once a month some or other skeevster would call the house or show up asking for “assistance,” usually money or food. On one occasion at the church, some guy showed up asking for “a little food for his family.” When my Mom offered to buy him a loaf of bread and a big jar of peanut butter, the dude acted offended and said “I was hoping for a dinner from Kentucky Fried Chicken!” He was shown the exit…

  1. WB in OH says

    Long before meth, probably nearing the end of the acid days, a long haired freaky looking gentleman walked into church and wanted to pray for the Priest. Not sure what he was on, but he left when the Priest asked him to take a seat and said he would pray for him.

  2. says

    I’m starting to think my neighbor is a drug dealer. For one, he has like 10 cellphones. And secondly, he sells me drugs almost every day.

    I never answer the door. Don’t knock on my door because I don’t fuck around. If it’s after dark you’re getting a gun pointed in your face.

    The dude in the van sounded rapey. Somebody needs to kill him.

      • uncle_wedgie says

        We watched a highly entertaining movie about a guy who goes to Ukrane to find out what happened to his grandparents back in WWW2. There was a dog in it called ” Sammy Davis Jr. Jr.” that acted like I envision Andy doing. They said that dog was psycho. “Everything is Illuminated”. Check it out.

  3. Ognir says

    I met my swinger group on Craigslist, and bought a used refrigerator. Good stuff.

    Seriously – It cracks me up to see people trying to sell Walmart and Ikea furniture for more than it actually costs to but it at the store.

    And also – people who try and sell reproductions as antiques.

  4. SaucyDeb says

    My husband lives for Craigslist. We bought our garage fridge, lawnmower, spare bedroom furniture.. the list goes on and on! We’ve also sold more than a fair amount on Craigslist with no problem. The selling part is a pain because of all the flakes that never show up and whatnot, but we’ve made a little chunk of change just selling crap that was in storage.

    I don’t have any weirdo meth-head stories, thank goodness. I had a creepy neighbor in college that was always peeking in my windows but he was just trying to sneak a peek at my lady parts. He was a big, old school pothead and he was always sitting on his back porch with an ‘apple’ or some other homemade smoking device. Every once in a while, I’d see him standing in between our houses kinda-sorta looking through my bedroom window. I’d holler out and ask what he was looking for and he’d scamper back up on his porch. Pretty sure he was harmless.

  5. AngryWhiteGuy says

    Craigslist is a crapshoot, but sometimes worth it.

    Home break-ins. Not the victim, but the culprit. After moving out as a teenage, due to repeated beating and verbal assaults, I left with just a few sets of clothes and a few personal items, waiting for the assault from fake Dad to bring me back. My employer let me leave the building when he came bounding in the front door to drag me out and I never heard from the parental units again for a long time.

    However, I had forgotten my choice seeds, in a case above my ceiling tile in my bedroom there.

    Knowing they were on vacation, I managed to climb to the second story and pop the window, with a little help from a high school hooligan that was outside roaming the streets at 3:00 am. The next day, a friend of the family called me and axed if I had done so, and I admitted I did, but she said she would not disclose, so that was cool. Got all my seeds and grew some beautiful plants in the woods at Little Creek Park.

    Other end- shot a guy in the act of breaking into my house at 2 am twenty years ago. Fully expected to be the victim in that matter, but the SPD were OK with it and it turned out the guy had broken into 7 other houses in the hood in the previous three months. He was deported after a lengthy lockup. But I didn’t say he was illegal, see?!!! Don’t want to be judged.

  6. Bill in WV says

    Just bought a Seeburg jukebox from a guy off the Pittsburgh area Craigslist. Took a buddy with me to pick it up, not only as backup, but to help lift the 400 lb monster into the truck. Nice guy, nice neighborhood. While there, he also tried to sell me his 1958 TBird for $50k. I didn’t have my checkbook on me, so I lost out on that one. Anyway, the jukebox is kickass, so I can’t complain about the sale.

    Breakins – yes. Bastards !!

  7. Valentin says

    Watch out Jeff. He may have just been checking around to find the best way to break in when he comes back. Have you ever seen the show “To Catch a Thief”? It was on the Discovery Channel. Basically the hosts are ex-thieves who show how someone goes about selecting a house to break into, then breaks into the house and then helps the homeowners protect themselves by giving them security systems and advice.

      • Valentin says

        What happens when you have to get up in the middle of the night to take a piss?

            • johnthebasket says

              Nope. Apperantly he already solded them, so now he’s just another circuit rider.


              • johnthebasket says

                It was kind of a cheap shot to start with, but my spelling of “apparently” prequalifies me for dolt of the day, or, wired, volt of the day.


  8. Lee Harvey Ramone says

    I sold a bike trailer on Craigslist yesterday. Found my current band-mates on Craigslist a couple of years ago, too.

  9. Limey says

    There’s no good reason for someone snooping around outside your house. I’d take that very seriously. Sorry. Andy deserves a steak.

  10. says

    As soon as I bolt the three foot thick door to my underground bedroom, I flip a switch and a bunch of lasers that cut shit in half come on.

    I gave all of my neighbors orange hats to wear so that my security guards know not to shoot their brains out.

  11. says

    Holy sheet that’s creepy. Back in my day all my parent had to worry about was whether or not I’d turn the toaster on when no one was home.

    Leave your older boy alone. He’s tired (swimming), hungry (you didn’t give him enough beef jerky and pop tarts) and trying to figure out if he wants to hang with the guys and invent new swear words or try to kiss that cute girl with the wicked awesome breast stroke. The man is busy I say, busy.

    We have a nice little cul-de-sac. I live at the entrance with a city police officer across the circle from me. Just recently we had a Sherriff’s deputy move into the sac. Now it’s getting skeezy. The deputy always has strange low-life’s hanging out blaring teenager music with mega-bass and there are always at least twice as many cars there than residents. No sir, I don’t like it.

  12. madz1962 says

    Woah shit – rewind maybe 40 years ago. My father came downstairs to find the front door wide open. Upon closer insepction he saw that our fairly new COLOR TV was missing (these were the TVs that acted like a piece of furniture in that big ass wood cabinet). My mother’s pocketbook was tossed out a window and one of the perps left a big sneaker mark on the windowsill.

    The throat clutching scary ass part? We were all home, asleep upstairs and my mother had walked by the room while the perps were in there to get a bottle for my baby sister. She knows because the bastards unplugged the clock they got through S&H green stamps and was sitting on the floor where the TV should have been.

    With the economy the way it is and so many desperate people out of work, break ins can happen anywhere. Be careful, Jeff.

    I don’t use craigslist. Too weird in NY (look at those remains they’re finding on Gilgo beach from the so-called craigslist killer.

  13. Jerry in WV says

    Be careful, Jeff. Sounds to me like the guy was looking to see what could be had. I also think the advice on the lawnmower sale is right on. Sometimes thiefs sell stuff, just to get a good look at what you have that they may want to confiscate. My only experience with a home burglary was when I was a kid. We had been visiting my grandmother all day and when we arrived at our home, the front door was open. My Dad went inside first and gave us the all clear. Turns out that the only thing they took was food. Totally wiped out our fridge and took a few items like bread, crackers, etc.. After finding that out, my Mom was really cool about it. All she said was that they must have needed it more than we did and did anyone want to go to the grocery store with her!

  14. bikerchick says

    When I was in 6th or 7th grade, I was walking home from school, about a block away from my house, and noticed this creepy looking dude walking toward me. He kept nodding at some car, I don’t know if he was signaling or whatever. My instincts told me to cross the road. Just when I was stepping off the curb, he caught up to me and said, “Hey…ever seen one of “these” before?” and proceeded to whip his dick out and shake it at me.

    I was so caught off guard, I just started running toward my house. My mother called the police. They came to the house with the whole statement and paperwork bullshit but nothing ever became of it. It was scary to know this asshole was roaming my neighborhood. I was a latch-key kid, so my mother was a little worried.

    To this day, I can remember that exact moment like it was yesterday. Red plaid shirt, jeans, vest, hairy dick. No…it didn’t affect me at all.

  15. Big Bear in OH says

    Ah, tis the season for break-ins. We’ve had a couple attempted break-ins, and a 90lb black lab/shepherd mix stopped the first one in it’s tracks. The second was while I was home, a guy stopped and tried to put his shoulder into the door to bust it open and then looked through the glass to find the wrong end of my twelve gauge pointing directly at him. Third one was while my dad, brother and I were on a trip, and someone was trying to peep into my parent’s bedroom window. My mother pulled a 9mm pistol and screamed, and he took off running. As for Craigslist…I buy a LOT of stuff off of craigslist…mainly used cars, lawnmowers, sporting equipment, farm stuff and occasionally auto parts. Typically nice people, but I never go anywhere when carrying large sums of money without backup and a concealed handgun. Too many shady folks out there. As for your radio silence, Jeff…that’s pretty natural with so much to do, so much freedom and so much potential to get laid floating around. I wouldn’t be calling home either, especially if I’m doing well. You’ll get the rundown eventually, though it may take a trip to Five Guys to ease it out of him.

    • Big Bear in OH says

      I forgot to add–I also use Armslist a lot…great site, it’s like Craigslist for guns! I’m a big fan of being able to exchange guns with others without all the gub’min’ paperwork…just be sure to call the serial numbers in to the police to make sure they aren’t stolen! Never happened to me, but occasionally I’ll get one that someone is selling that seems suspicious. Can’t be too careful…

  16. Scott says

    He was casing you, Jeff. He’ll also be back. I’d let him in, then put 2 in his head. Problem solved.

    • madz1962 says

      In my above story, every house in our old neighborhood got broken into. Suddenly there were a rash of dobermans and German shepards. My brother slept with a baseball bat and a bicycle chain next to his bed. It was pretty traumatic.

  17. says

    About 10,000 people just shat the bed because they thought a wild gunman was on the loose. Supposedly he was driving a golf cart around and was carrying a sniper rifer. (A gun on an Army base…Gasp!)

    It was just some exercise that the guys unit forgot to tell the MP’s about. The guy was going back to his office in his cart, and the sniper rifle was a rubber gun

    Good news is my office figured out it can get 100% accountability of personnel in less than half an hour, during lunch.

    Bad news is I didn’t get to see the stinky wet spot spread out on the “snipers” crotch when he was surrounded by police officers with their real guns pointed at him.

  18. Alex says

    A couple years ago caught some guy trying to stare into the neighbours basement window for a good look around. (neighbours where away for their anual snow bird migration). I position myself in his blind spot and loudly ask him what the fuck he’s looking for. He jumped out of his skin as he was so intent on peering in the house. He starts stammering and starts scampering away quickly… Since this is canukistan, ventilating him ain’t an option, unfortunately, but I guess I wielded my snow shovel appropriately in his direction.

    I’ve had some door to door sales guy show up inside my garage when I was working on the car. He starts talking, I get up from my task holding my ratchet and tell him he better move faster than me and get the hell back outside.
    Had a neighbour do the same thing (other side of the snow birds)… He got the same treatment, how hard is it to say something, anything! before trespassing? That neighbour figured out real fast, he gives me a holler at the property line now before venturing closer. =-)

    • says

      I’ve had 2 Schwanns salesman open the door and walk right into my kitchen without knocking. The hell is up with those guys? One almost left without a left hand. What part of ‘No, I don’t want any of your over-priced steaks’ do you not understand?

  19. says

    I’ve had people come up TO the mailbox, OPEN the damned thing up, and then RING the doorbell to ask “Does Ssfosjdfosidf live here?” Durr! You’ve opened the box and found no checks (thank you direct deposit!) or import CDs (heh, they don’t want to hear anything by Colin Blunstone or the Zombies anyway), but the fact that yeah, I can SEE you at the door and HEAR you open the box! My mother thought it was a ploy to see who was home and who wasn’t. The house across the street was broken into–no one answered the door–I hope no one was there!

  20. FirstNations says

    Had many sketchy characters case the joint but never a break-in. I don’t wanna jinx myself, but there ya go. I attribute it to always having owned one or another mouthy-ass dogs. GOOD BOY ANDY!!!
    By the way, your kid did EXACTLY the right thing. Good on him and good on you and the Mrs. for teaching him right.

  21. Phil Jett says

    Brother-in-law was working out back and saw a guy walking around his house..looked like he was casing it. He called the cops and the guy was gone by the time they got there.

    Gave them description of guy and car, cops told him it was probably just someone looking for different house since all the ones in the development were cedar sided and looked the same.

    Two days later he and his wife came home from going out to dinner and the house was cleaned out of all valuables in house and garage. Every room was ransacked. Their dog was sleeping in the middle of the mess in their bedroom.

    They installed alarm system after (little late) and a year later sold and moved out cause his wife was never comfortable there again,

  22. Cat says

    Put a sign on your door that says, “I see you and your white van.” We just bought a 2006 Honda Pilot off Craigslist. Excellent experience. We used a service called Lemon Squad to check it out for us before we saw it in person.

    • Bill in WV says

      I have a “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING” sign on my back door, which also states that every homeowner in the neighborhood is part of a neighborhood watch, so don’t be surprised if a .38 cal is pointed at your head at some point during the intrusion.

  23. BiscuitJones says

    I lived on Miami Beach in the 90’s, two blocks from the actual beach/ocean. One day after a trip to the beach for a few hours I came home feeling all drained from the heat and didn’t hop in the shower right away. Boy am I glad I didn’t. I wasn’t home 15 minutes when I heard a giant CRASH from the back door of the apartment. Some guy had just kicked my door in. I was enraged.

    I went back there and yelled at him “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!?! Get out of here NOW!!!” in my best scolding mommy voice. (At this point I was in my late 20’s, a girl, who weighed about 113 but my anger made me feel invincible). Know what? Loser turned tail and slunk out of there.

    Of course I called the police, they got fingerprints and I slept the night clutching a claw hammer with my sofa pushed up against the front door (back door had been nailed shut until it could be properly repaired).

    Police told me I was lucky. He was twice my size and could have killed me or worse. If I had appeared frightened he might have. But at that moment I was just OFFENDED that he had the AUDACITY to break into my damned apartment. I was just pissed and I guess since he saw no fear he felt “why risk it?”.

  24. PAmike says

    This is waaay off topic… But when you search Jeff Kay on iBooks one of the 4 results is by Jeffrey Reed “Kayla life of a female thug”. Not sure what it’s about(hahha) but it looks epic.

  25. PAmike says

    Oh god, it IS epic. The opener…….

    “Hi, everyone my name is Mary, Sit back while I tell you about a sweet sexy brown skin woman that changed the whole outlook on females. Some call her a “Bitch”, but others called her Kayla, The Female Thug.”

  26. Mike says

    Used to live in an apartment on second floor. during summer, Used to leave patio door open so the large mutt could get some fresh air while we were gone. Came home 1 day to find the mutt going CRAZY. Turns out, some low-life SOB tried to rob us, but the mutt convinced him it was TIME TO GET THE FUCK OUT NOW. All he could get was the smokey joe as he jumped over the railing. Hope he broke his leg on way down, since it was 14 feet from floor of balcony to ground, plus 3 feet of railing. Must have been a local fuck, since we never had another problem. Nobody wanted to mess with the bear inside. Still don’t know how nobody saw a dude with a ladder in the complex.

  27. chill says

    That’s some creepy shit right there. I’ve never had a break-in (knock on wood), but there’s a first time for everything. And the state I live in has this “shall issue” thing. Hmm. Of course, one could always keep a “baton” of 1/2 inch copper pipe handy. I also have some fine kitchen knives which are both wicked sharp and well-balanced, with handles that still provide good grip when wet.

    And – daily updates from the boy? I’d be worried if he were doing such a thing. As it is, it sounds like he’s having a great time.

  28. dto says

    The entire camp has decide to maintain radio silence and eliminate any chance of mis-information. All they need is one weesel who tells their folks about beer bongs, boobies and bjs.

  29. Knucklehead says

    There’s a reason I live in a small Italian village now. We never lock our doors and leave the front door OPEN (with mosquito drape closed) when we go out so the 135 lb dog can roam freely (although, he usually jumps on the couch the minute we leave).
    The day I moved from San Francisco, I had to kick 3 homeless dudes out of my backyard – they saw we were moving and had the doors open. Thought they could help themselves. I chased them down 4 blocks with the cops on the phone. AND I had a valium in me! Think it was time for me to leave?

    Happy Wednesday, Surfers!

    • WB in OH says

      You could take out a lot of Belgians with the Kel Tec… 14 rounds! Wouldn’t want to carry that thing around all day!

  30. Root 66 says

    Andy did good! Sometimes thieves go door-to-door just to see who has a dog. Glad your young’n is OK. That’s some scary stuff. Too bad he didn’t get the license plate # from the van. Why can’t people just get a JOB and BUY their own stuff? That’s why I hate most people.

    We had a break-in years ago when we were moving. It was at our old house and I had put everything left in the house together, so it would be easy to move. Welp, it was easy for the thieves to move, alright! They got away with a lot of stuff before daybreak. They even managed to steal a 30+ year old stove that only half-worked! God bless ’em, the insurance paid for a new one and it helped sell the house faster! One of the creeps even drank half a can of Slim-Fast out of the ‘fridge. Jerk…hope he choked on it!

    • madz1962 says

      “Hello? Insurance Company? Items missing – 1 flat screen television, 2 silver candlesticks, 1 Rolex and 1/2 can of Slim-Fast. Strawberry.”

      • Root 66 says

        Yeah, I asked the police to take a lip print from the can and all I got was a blank stare!

      • hardoxdan says

        That’s some good stuff, right there.
        But, 2 Rolexes (his and hers) and the Steinway grand.

  31. Jera says

    Good for Andy! I have a scary looking dog that has probably saved us from creepers a few times.

    We had a string of break-ins in our subdivision and 2 neighboring us. The guy was described as a short white man with “unique” red hair riding a motorized scooter that looked like a Segway. He was seen riding down the sidewalk with a huge duffel bag on his back and a 42 inch TV under his arm. He was trying to support a $300-$500 a day heroin habit. Luckily he was caught.

  32. Rob says

    Had a pistol, a cheap Les Paul knock-off and about $20 in quarters stolen from the house once. They left all the electronics (which were- and still are- plentiful) and my roommate’s $7000 worth of guitars sitting out in the other bedroom untouched.