One nice thing about being older is I can detect BS a lot faster. And I'm not afraid to call it.

Yesterday around 11 a.m. there was a knock on the door. A 20-something guy in white and green plaid shirt, jeans, nothing in his hands, some kind of watch chain going into one pocket.

"Hey, I just moved here from Palm Springs to live with my grandpa around the corner." He pointed up the street." And he says how friendly all the neighbors are. You've probably seen him walking his golden retriever every morning at 7 a.m."

I got kind of stuck on all that information. For one thing, three days a week I happen to leave the house at 7 a.m. for a run - and I've never seen a guy walking a golden retriever. In fact, I don't remember seeing anyone walking a golden retriever on my five-mile runs.

I also thought he was saying something was wrong - the dog was missing, the grandpa had fallen, something.

"Is anything wrong?" I asked.

"Oh no, no." He smiled. Then really fast he said something like, "Tell me if I'm talking too fast, because I'm kind of nervous and it's something I'm working on in my public speaking class, but there's 50 guys and 50 girls and we're having a contest..."

Which is where I smelled a rat and said politely, "Sorry, I'm not interested," and closed the door. I have a feeling if I had kept it open it would have devolved into one of those door-to-door magazine scams where the person is just one customer away from winning the grand prize. (They are always just one customer away, for some reason.)

Just Google "door to door magazine salesman" and "rape" or "assault" and you'll get lots of stories. Including one last month in Portland that began, "Calling him a "brutal sexual predator," a judge has sentenced a door-to-door magazine salesman to 30 years in prison for the 2005 rape of a woman who answered the door at her Portland home and was gagged, beaten, choked and assaulted."

Later we saw him going up and down the street, in the rain, smoking a cigarette. We made sure to keep the doors locked.

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We hardly ever get anyone knocking on our door - so half the time, it's something kind of sketchy.
Thanks for the heads-up! Unfortunately, we seem to be a magnet for magazine sales, window estimates, tree cutting, and religious proselytizing... And I too haven't seen anyone walking a golden retriever at 7 a.m.
It was the specificity of it that was creepy.

Yeah, I would say 2/3 of ours are people I turn away.
Yuck. Creepy...yep! I'm a bit of a wimp- I would never have answered the door in the first place! Seriously. A guy I didn't recognzie? Nope. In our town, door to door sales isn't allowed and I'm glad.

One time a really menacing guy - piercings, tattoos- knocked on our door. I nearly didn't open it - but then all he wanted to do was tell me my car's lights were on.
Yikes, glad you trusted your instincts. I never open the door when I'm home alone, for exactly this reason*. It's very sad because we have a really great and active neighborhood of folks, and they frequently stop by for various things (neighborhood projects, just to chat, etc.) and they often stop by when my husband is gone. It angers me that because of people like this, we feel unsafe in our own homes and neighborhoods.

*(Just to be clear, I don't mean this as a victim-blame thing to anyone who has opened their door and been assaulted in some way. The responsibility for the crime rests solely with the criminal. Which should really go without saying, but since we live in a culture that engages in victim blaming, particularly for sex-related crimes, I wanted to be sure to make the distinction.)
To be honest, I would rather open the door and confront them head on - I worry they'll walk around the house if they think it's empty.
Good point. My lot is situated in such a way that there's only one way for them to go around the house and they'd have to walk past an apartment building with 10 windows on that side in order to do it, so I figure (or hope) that's enough of a deterrent. Even so, it wouldn't take much for someone to take the chance and slip out of view in a matter of seconds with no one the wiser.
I wish I were as wise (and I'm old enough to be!). Just a few weeks ago I gave money to a guy who came to the door so that he could buy a bus pass to get to his supposed new temp job. He asked me if I remembered him because he had done yard work for our neighbors last summer. I did remember and kept thinking if J hired him out, I really should help him, too, but after I did I had such regret. I can't be answering the door to strangers and giving them handouts! Fortunately he hasn't returned (he said he'd pay me back, or could do yard work). I think I learned my lesson and will be able to say NO, or not even answer the door and let my barking dog scare them away. I am too naive for my own good and hate that I shouldn't trust anyone, but that's the world we live in it seems.
Did you remember the actual guy? Or just the idea that someone did yard work?

Because if it was the actual guy, I would probably be a soft touch for that too. But the people with a story that I don't know - those are the ones I will say no to now. No matter how convincing.
Yeah, after he jogged my memory, I remembered him (my neighbors have since moved). He'd only been there once but saw me leaving the house to walk my dog and he remembered that. If it were completely random, I hope I would have been able to say no.