An Open Letter to the Nice Couple Who Didn’t Have Me Arrested When I Broke Into Their House


Remember me? I’m sorry to bother you again, but I just wanted to thank you for not calling the cops or shooting me or anything. I’d also like to explain how it all happened, and why it wasn’t my fault, really.

This is not a photograph.

It all started when I got an invitation to a housewarming party. I couldn’t decide whether  to bring a present — the invitation said “no gifts”, but that doesn’t really mean anything — and if so, what to bring. How are you supposed to pick out a house-oriented gift when you’ve never been to the house before? I hate this custom. I eventually decided to bring a bottle of wine, mostly because of its ambiguity — I could just say “here’s a bottle of wine”, and leave it to others to decide whether it was a housewarming gift or just a bottle of wine I brought to a party. And I probably wouldn’t even have to say that, because most of my friends have encountered bottles of wine before and recognize them when they see them.

I don’t know about you, but for me, there’s only a certain amount of mental energy I’m willing to spend preparing to go to someone else’s party. By the time I’d finished pondering the gift question and actually selecting a bottle of wine, my pre-party mental energy budget was almost depleted, so I decided to leave the navigation to my car’s GPS system. I knew I was taking a risk — my GPS hates me — but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

You know what happened next. I just want to say the following in my defense:

  • My friends live at 1200 Big Street*, and my GPS directed me to the corner of Big Street and Side Street.
  • The house on that corner — your house — has a big 1200 over the front door.
  • The housewarming invitation included a request not to wear shoes inside the house. There was a big pile of shoes on your doorstep.
  • Your front door was open.

So of course I walked up to the  door (okay, your  door), took my shoes off, and went inside. The first thing I noticed was that there were only two people in the living room, and that they were people I didn’t know, but that didn’t seem too unusual — everyone else was probably in the back yard, or the kitchen, or getting a tour of the house, or something. So when I asked “is this Bill and Kathy’s housewarming?”, it was really a rhetorical question. You were supposed to say yes, introduce yourselves, and tell me everyone else was out back. When you deviated from the script and said “no”, I thought you were kidding. What else would I think? That I’d wandered into the wrong house? A house that just happened to have the same house number, an open door, and a pile of shoes? At the exact spot that my GPS led me to? What are the odds of that? I think I took a couple more steps into the room (okay, your living room) before I stopped and said “really?”.

Thank you for giving me directions to my friends’ actual house. And thank you for believing me. It’s heartwarming to know that there are people out there who are so trusting — although, when I walked past your house on the way back to my car after the party, I couldn’t help but notice that you’d closed your door.

*Names and addresses have been changed, on the theory that it might not be the best idea to post “here’s the address of some people who don’t mind if their house gets broken into”.

46 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Nice Couple Who Didn’t Have Me Arrested When I Broke Into Their House

    1. I actually thought about that at the time. But I think the wine was instrumental in convincing them that my story was true, so I thought I might need it for the next house I wandered into.

  1. Sadly, I can relate.

    When we were buying our house I was late for the inspection and I went rushing in the front door – to find a strange man and his very large dog in the living room. I froze – cartoon like – in running man position. “Um…hi?”

    I’ve never heard of the owner being present for the inspection, but it was his day off and he’d forgotten. He was asleep upstairs and didn’t hear the doorbell so he didn’t even let The Boy and the inspector in until he woke up and heard them walking on the roof.

    But at least I was at the right house!

  2. One day I was visiting Sisters, Oregon with some friends and our dogs. It was a very hot day, so after parking in front of a funky little store with a welcoming strip of grass on the sidewalk, we let the dogs out of the car to take a break. The store was actually in a house, and there was a big porch with lots of stuff on it for browsing. Upon exiting the car, Sweet Lou, our 65 pound pup, immediately dashed in through the open front door of the shop. I chased after him and as I was running across the porch, it dawned on me that this wasn’t a store, after all… It was somebody’s house with an incredible mess of stuff on the porch. I leaned across the threshold of the front door and tried to see Sweet Lou, or anyone, really, while announcing myself. No people, no dog. Just a huge mess, several guitars hung on the walls, and a couple of pissed off looking cats. No dog, no people. I shouted about who I was and what I was doing as I worked my way deeper into the house. I finally found Sweet Lou in the bathroom, where he had upended a dish of dry cat food and eaten most of it. I got us the heck out of there. I never did see any people. I’m sure they were surprised the next time they went into the bathroom and saw cat food everywhere.

    1. That’s hysterical.

      Sometimes when I get home from work, there’s a lot of dry cat food on the floor. I’ve been assuming the cats have just been messy, but now I have to consider the possibility that someone has been breaking into my house and stealing small amounts of cat food.

    1. Thanks! Sorry you had to languish in the spam queue for hours today — the spam filter seems to have gotten a little more aggressive lately.

    1. Technically, it actually is a photograph (of a drawing). This is the first in the series of absolutely horrible illustrations I’ve resolved to do for the new year.

  3. During a Christmas holiday visit to my folks, I once got in a stranger’s car at the airport pickup lane. I thought he and his wife were my parents. I asked them what they were serving for dinner on Christmas Day thinking I might fit in another meal. I’ve never seen someone bolt that fast.

    Hilarious read, girl! You exist partly to give other people stories to tell about you.

  4. It’s always nice when a humorous situation is written in a well-written and humorous fashion.

    I accidentally became a home invader myself one time when trying to visit a friend in a physical rehabilitation centre. I didn’t get arrested either, but the owners were quite miffed.

    1. Next time, take off your shoes and bring a bottle of wine. The people whose house I broke into weren’t upset at all; they were just bemused.

  5. Hahaha… I’m sure that couple was just happy that their… um… random visitor was considerate enough to remove her shoes (a lot of random walk-ins don’t seem to care if you’ve just vacuumed or not)!

    1. That’s actually one of the random strange details about this experience — I’ve been to lots of no-shoes-on-in-the-house houses, but this is the first one I’ve seen with a pile of shoes outside the front door instead of inside.

  6. Our GPS also tends to be a cranky little bitch, as well. It always sends us approximately a quarter to a half mile away from our destination. Sometimes it drops us off early, sometimes it overshoots us. But it refuses to deliver us to the doorstep.

    1. That’s worse than mine. This house was only about a block away from where I wanted to go.

      Does yours also talk to you in an impossibly patient, patronizing tone of voice? I hate that.

  7. Yes! The “turn around when possible” phrase is the one I hate the most. Because my husband chose a British voice, and you can almost hear the “you unbelievably stupid git!” in the GPS’s tone.

    1. Mine says “make a legal U-turn”, which makes me wonder whether it cares at all whether any of the left turns or right turns it tells me to make are legal.

  8. Some people are so inconsiderate. Leaving their door open invitingly, and having a pile of shoes out as bait. Maybe it was more than inconsiderate. Maybe it was a trap! You’re lucky you escaped alive.

    1. Thanks! That’s very — wait a minute, that’s a little too flattering. How do I know the real Denise isn’t being held hostage by spammers? Quick — what’s your favorite kind of cupcake?

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