The Old Man At Our Door

This man bears an amazing likeness to Melvin.

An elderly gent came loudly rapping, rapping on our chamber door.  It sounds almost poetic when I write it like that.  Here’s what actually happened–the frail old man almost beat down our front door with his cane.  At first, roommate/best friend Sarah and I thought the UPS man was knocking a little too enthusiastically.  The rapid thumping caused Cassie the peekapoo and Maddy the shih tzu, great guard dogs that they are, great alarm.  Being first on the scene, they erupted into uproarious barking.

Sarah and I held back the hounds and peeked out the door.  There standing on our front porch was a disgruntled old man who said he just moved in and was looking for his apartment–apartment number 26.  We informed him that our apartment number was not 26, but actually 36.  Confusion littered his face.  I looked at him as closely as I could, but Sarah blocked most of my view as she talked to him.

I could see that he held his cane upside down and cradled a bagged newspaper in the crook of his arm.  Being in an orange bag, the paper was not hard to miss. In fact, Sarah delivers papers just like that, in orange bags just like that.  I wondered if he was some deranged person who had stalked us to our apartment because he hated getting his weekly paper.  Believe me, I’ve witnessed a lot of bizarre occurrences while helping Sarah with her paper route (Naked barbeque man and the old man in the red truck who chased us down for blocks and blocks comes to mind–more on him later this month.)  These people either love or hate their FREE weekly papers and some go to great lengths to tell us so.

Sarah tried to give the old man instructions to apartment #26.  A minute or two later, there came a loud rapping on our sliding glass patio door.  Guess who was back?  I thought about hiding and pretending I wasn’t home.  Great plan.  We (and by “we” I mean Sarah) answered the door like two minutes ago.  Sarah yelled to the man through the glass, “This is 36, not 26.”  It took a bit, but he finally went away.  Or so we thought.  He was wandering around the backyard area, dangerously near our back porch.  I called the rental office to recount the tale of the old man and his rapping cane to our apartment complex’s community director, who said she would check it out.

I really believe the old man thought we took up residence in his apartment.

Then it occurred to us. Maybe he was just a confused old man with Alzheimer’s or dementia.  While we didn’t want to get bludgeoned to death by his cane, we figured that there was security in numbers.  Sarah and I put on our jackets and went out to look for the old man, hoping that we could help him (since we decided he was no longer a threat. In retrospect, we could have totally taken that old man down!)  For all his confused pacing and hobbling, we couldn’t find that old guy anywhere.  We walked over to apartment #26 hoping the old man found his way home.  The young woman who answered the door was just as bewildered by our story as the lady in the rental office.  How do these crazy random happenstances always seem to happen to Sarah and me?

Should we send forth a search party to find Melvin (I have decided Melvin is a good name for the old man.  I  can’t  just keep calling him “old man” after all)?  Should we call the police? Maybe his family was looking for him.  I mean, you hear those stories of confused old people who wander away from home and end up dead in a creek.  What if that happened to Melvin?  The guilt would surely swallow me whole.  In the end, I decided to pray for him.  I have no idea why God sent Melvin to our door. Maybe he was  just a crazy old man trying to find his way home.  Maybe we’re all just Melvin’s trying to find our ways home.

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