He Was a Pole Man

Frank and I live in a pretty nice neighborhood. It is not considered "dangerous" --whatever that is code for--but it used to be, fifteen or twenty years ago. Back then, most of Brooklyn was, I guess. But even so, no matter where you live, the possibility of being robbed is just part of life. Of the three friends of mine whose apartments were broken into in the last year, all of them lived in neighborhoods well out of my price range.
So it's fairly unsurprising that in our two-and-a-half years in our neighborhood someone has attempted to rob each of us once, except for the attempted part. See, somehow, we have had run-ins with the dumbest possible criminals and, despite being generally timid non-confrontational people, we’ve foiled two robberies. Foiled! Us!

The first happened this winter, and I think I told you about it. Frank was walking home from the fancy beer store, fancy beer in hand, and got stopped short by two very young-looking guys asking for his money. Though they threatened to shoot him, four of their hands were visible and no weapons were, so Frank kind of freaked out, bonked one on the head with his fancy beer bottle, and ran home screaming.

Definitely weird, but it doesn't hold a candle to this past Tuesday and the pole man. As you may be aware, summer is a time of hotness. Particularly in our un-airconditioned apartment. So when we're home and it's summer, we open our front window to let some air in. It is barred and screened, but when the window is open all the way, there's about one inch between the screen and the lower sash of the window. We live on the ground floor, by the way, on the sort of below-grade basement apartment of a brownstone, so our windows are kind of at street level.

So it's about 10 pm. 10 pm on our street is still pretty busy with foot traffic. I was watching Alton Brown on the couch, and Frank was in the shower. I heard a weird scraping noise coming from the front of the house and leapt up, all ready to yell at one of the cats. Instead, I saw a pole stuck through our window bars that has hooked my purse straps onto its end. A pole. Stuck through the tiny gap in the window. Understand that my purse was on a table at least five feet from the window, and it would have been clear to anyone who looked in our window that I was home and watching TV.

So I yelled the yell I had been saving for the cat, which probably wasn't a yell most humans expect to be directed at them, and grabbed the pole. It was the sort of pole that would typically have a square plastic strainer attached to it for pool cleaning--hollow and metal and telescoping, and not even hooked on the end.

I tugged on the pole, trying to get it away from the guy. I noticed he was standing all the way on the sidewalk. This was a looong pole, is what I'm saying. He managed to jerk the pole back, but I got my purse, and he ran down the sidewalk, giant pole thrown over his shoulder.

So that guy basically was walking around with a GIANT POLE at 10 at night, trying to rob people who are sitting merely feet away. The best part is that there's no way my purse would've fit through the bars without tugging, so he would've had to put down his pole, walk up to my window, stick his hand into through the window bars, fish out my wallet or whatever, and then get his pole and leave. All while not being detected by me, my cats, or any of the many neighbors and people walking by who might have become suspicious when they saw a man holding a purse through a barred window, giant pole on the ground.
This was just not a good robbery plan. Particularly because everyone knows the renters live on the ground floor, and the rich people live on the top floors. I had far less cash in my wallet than would make carrying around a giant pole worth it. Also, and most importantly: this doofus was walking around with a giant robbery pole.

When I called the police, I was giggling so much I think they thought I was pranking them, but they promised to keep a lookout for a guy walking around with a giant pole. When I told Frank what had happened, he was furious and took off running down the street. I'm not sure what he would have done had he somehow caught up to the guy. It is a little worrisome that he has such a strong, proactive reaction to attempted robbery, I guess. If we ever live somewhere with real criminals and not guys who come up with their burglary plans while stoned and watching the Ocean's Twelve, he might get hurt.
I'm not sure whether we've gotten lucky, or that any decent criminal would realize that we have very little worth stealing, or that the remedial crooks somehow keep the real deal away, but I guess I can't complain. Except that now I am continually turning around, looking for poles.