Unreasonable Suspicion

I just called the cops on a guy who drove a van up to my garage, jumped out, took a picture of it, hurriedly jumped back into his van, and drove away with the tires screeching. With full certainty that the motherfucker was casing our house to burglarize it (as Rashida Tlaib might put it), I grabbed my phone and got a picture of the van driving away, doing my best to memorize what I could about it. I told the police dispatcher that the guy was taking a picture of the keypad to my garage.  The cops put out an APB on the guy, and sent an officer to our house.

Before the officer got here, I launched my own investigation. Findings: turns out that my “burglar” was just  a package delivery guy leaving another one of my wife’s endless Anthropologie packages in front of our garage, and taking a picture of it to prove that he left it there. Upon forensic inspection of our garage door, it belatedly occurred to me that our garage does not in fact have a keypad, and never has. Our neighbor’s door does: I confabulated a keypad and gave us one in order to make sense of the guy’s taking a picture. Theory-laden observation and motivated reasoning at its finest.

Basically, I almost got someone arrested for nothing. This after getting arrested for nothing myself, and exploiting it a full year for outrage value. And all this from a guy who teaches criminal procedure, to boot.

In other words, I’m an asshole. If the delivery guy was black, I’m a racist. If someone had caught the whole episode on film, it’d be a viral video by now, alongside Barbecue Becky and all the other panic-button busy bodies in the country.

I haven’t even had lunch yet.

Mea culpa.

5 thoughts on “Unreasonable Suspicion

  1. Jonathan Haidt laughed. I imagine that the confabulated belief that there was a keypad there, formed in this kind of context, if it survived prospects of intuitive and definitive disproof, would be very hard to get rid of. I can imagine someone with a belief like this making crazy bets on it being true (and it seeming that this person that various strong evidence against it is insufficient to overturn it).


  2. I feel that this assumption that the delivery guy was scouting your house is a common occurrence. For many Americans that watch television there are shows and movies that are filled with nightmarish stories or scenarios that when you are panicking and thinking irrationally come to mind and seem completely plausible. The fact that you jumped to the conclusion that the guy was casing your house is totally justifiable and probably happens to most people who see and hear something suspicious that is happening right in front of their house in the middle of the night. I think calling the police was the correct response because if you didn’t and just swept the whole experience under the metaforic rug and someone did burglarize your house you would be livid and probably would blame yourself for not doing something to stop it all from happening. I also don’t think I agree with your ensuing actions of going outside and giving it a look for yourself that could have turned out to be a bad decision if the guy came back and he was a bad guy and wanted to do something bad to you or your property. All that being said I think as whole the entire scenario was nerve racking and not a fun experience.


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