October 6th, 2007

Icy Background

Advice needed...

Ok, so imagine that you're living in halls of residence, right? One day you hear a girl shouting from outside your building, shouting a name that sounds something like 'Joe'. She catches sight of you and calls up to ask if you're in flat six. You affirm that you are, so she asks you to come and open the door for her. You refuse, asking her who she's looking for and his room number. 'Joe', again - she doesn't know which room. You don't know anyone called Joe or anything similar living in your flat, so you refuse to let her in, telling her to phone her friend.

A little while later, you get ready to go to Tescos, and hearing the girl knocking loudly on the door to either your block or your flat, you decide to check the rooms where you don't know the occupants name to see if he or she is called Joe. No response to any of your knocks. Leaving the flat, you see the girl standing outside the door...

Choice 1:
A - Let her into the flat.
B - Close the door behind you, making sure that she has no opportunity to force her way past you and into the flat.

Assume for a minute that you went with choice B. You have no idea who this girl is or whether 'Joe' really exists, so why should you let her into the flat? There's no lock on the kitchen, so food theft would be easy, and people sometimes forget to lock their doors. You know at least one person in your flat who doesn't lock his door when going to the kitchen or coming along to visit you. Playing it safe seems to be the best option. The girl turns to you and starts "Why'd you do that for?!". You start to explain your reasons, but she shouts you down with phrases such as "You don't even know me!" (Your point exactly), "Walk away before I make something of this!" (You just want to go to Tescos) and "I don't like your attitude!" (You're not the one shouting...). So you walk away, a stream of insults following you down the stairs. The door to enter the block has been wedged open with a rock. Suspicious - why would she need to wedge the door open when you don't need a key to get out? Quite naturally, you make a visit to reception to report this incident and ask that security be notified.

Later that evening, one of your flatmates comes to visit you. It seems that the girl was her friend. She'd asked her to come and get some textbooks from her room and deliver them to the Bedford Library before they were due back. 'Joel', a boy living in the flat next to you, was meant to be meeting her. Your flatmate is rather angry with you, because she now has to pay a fine for the late return of her books. She seems to think that you should have just let the other girl into the flat and watched as she went into someone else's room and took some of their stuff. You try to explain to her your security-concious attitude, but she considers you rude - "If it had been me there, I'd have done more than just shout at you!". You apologise several times until she finally appears to accept it, but you refuse to regret your choice. "Let's not hold a grudge", you say. "I won't hold any grudges", she replied, letting herself out of the room.

Well, how do you feel? Because all of that happened to me, today. I'm now rather worried that she's going to try for retalitory action at some point - all the more reason to get a room swap as soon as possible!

If you've taken the time to read this entry, I would like to know what you would have done in this situation, and whether you think I acted correctly or incorrectly. Feel free to ask for more information about the situation - I probably talked for about half an hour with my flatmate, and I haven't written up the entire conversation here.

As for why I decided to let not let the stranger in, it's quite simple. While I've not been directly affected by theft at University, I can think of a couple of events occuring quite close to me:
For example, in the Fresher's Week of my first year, someone living at Brunel Runnymede (which was the campus I was living at) left their door unlocked for a few minutes. They came back to discover that someone had just walked in and stolen their precious things.
Also at Brunel, the girl in the room next to me left her curtains open and her light on while she was in the kitchen. A couple of people broke her window and stole her laptop, digital camera and mobile phone before running off to a getaway car.

Also, while certainly not theft, during my second year at University I came home to be greeted with "Nick came by and took the router." A certain Nick S had knocked on the door of the house and told my housemates that I'd said that he could borrow the old router that we weren't using. My housemates let him take it, since they knew him and thought his story plausible. I'd said no such thing, but since my housemates hadn't checked with me before giving it to him, he was able to take it without my permission. (As it was I'd vaguely discussed the possibility of him borrowing it - he'd thought that I'd meant that he could borrow it whenever he wanted, I'd forgotton all about it. No hard feelings about this issue with anyone involved as it's all done and dusted. This is just an example.)

If you think that I'm being a little weird about security here, then I recommend this book to you: The Art of Deception, by Kevin Mitnick. This book opened my eyes somewhat, I have to admit.