Talk about a surprise. These residents recall the thing that completely caught them off guard when returning home. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
“Three years ago, I returned home to find a porch full of delivery boxes. Some of them were pretty large.
Delivery boxes on my porch aren’t, by themselves, that unusual. My wife buys things from Amazon all of the time. The sheer number and sizes of the boxes were the first thing to strike me, though. And the fact they weren’t normal plain cardboard Amazon boxes. They were printed boxes as you might see on a shelf in a store.
The second thing to strike me was what was printed on boxes: ‘nursery furniture’. A crib, a child’s dresser, and a rocking chair.
‘Huh,’ I thought, ‘Is this her way of telling me she’s pregnant again? By buying a bunch of nursery stuff?’
About five seconds later, as the realization of what might be happening finally came to me, a wave of dread swept over me. We couldn’t afford another child.
Then my mind went to the even worse possible scenario: my teenage daughter was pregnant.
I had a mini panic attack for about five seconds, which even registered on the Fitbit I was wearing at the time until I looked at the address on one of the boxes.
It wasn’t ours. It was for the house one street over. We get their mail about once per week. They have the same house number and a similar street name, so it’s not that surprising. This time we got their whole delivery.
After I calmed down, I got my hand truck from my basement and delivered all of the packages to my neighbor, congratulating them on their new child. It turns out that it was for a new grandchild.”
Happy Valentine’s Day
“I was scheduled to work my normal shift 3:30–7:00 pm which I knew would happen. Ever since I have started working at this job, I have worked every holiday. To be honest, I was in no way bothered by this because even though I had a boyfriend, Valentine’s Day has never been a fun holiday for me. Just give me conversation hearts and call it a day. Besides, my boyfriend also had to work that night (5:00–12:30 am) and since it was a Friday, he was going to make some serious money. I knew we were going to see each other anyway, he always came over to my house after work.
I see Valentine’s day as just another day, but I always make sure to do something for my boyfriend if I’m in a relationship because I do enjoy cute things. So this year, I baked him heart-shaped velvet cupcakes, entirely from scratch.
My mom and her boyfriend went on a trip to a nearby city for the night, leaving me alone until I had to go to work and all night after that. This would be the perfect opportunity for me to catch up on my show, drink some Moscato, and take a nice, long shower.
I arrived to work a little earlier than normal just because my mom’s ex-husband drove me and he is very punctual. I still hadn’t heard from my boyfriend, which was to be expected since he slept until 4:00 pm. The last interaction we had was him telling me he had no idea what to get me for Valentine’s day after I had told him his gift was done.
Around five pm, he texted me asking how work was. I remember this night being rather easy and the residents being in a better mood than usual. We talked on and off throughout the rest of my shift when I had a break in between residents and then I came home.
After work, I always needed to shower. Working around food can get messy and I always felt gross. I set my stuff down and almost immediately started running the bathwater. I needed to relax, but something felt off.
I had this weird desire to go into my bedroom and check on everything. So when I did, there I saw on my bed was rose petals and candy arranged with my stuffed turtle. My boyfriend had come over on his way to work to do this for me. Keep in mind, he had no key to get in and there was no one here to let him in. He had to have remembered that I always lose my house keys so I never lock the door unless I was going out overnight.
I was impressed and it surely made my day, especially once I turned my bedroom light on and the flower petals he had arranged on the ceiling fan came floating down. I never had a cheesy romantic gesture done for me like that and it still makes me happy to think about.”
Ideal Tenants Or So He Thought
“I live in a small suburban town outside Boston. Nothing of any importance happens here, and there is never anything really exciting to report; no murders, a few assaults, and maybe some night-time car break-ins. It’s a normal, American suburban community.
In fact, when the town report came out, it was discovered two streetwalkers were arrested in the past year and it was the talk of the town. Who knew there were streetwalkers in our little town? Who were they? How could I get one of them to visit?
In any event, I was sleep-driving home from work one sunny afternoon with my mind in the clouds but when I pulled around the corner to my house, I was astounded to see every single police cruiser the town possessed parked haphazardly around my house, on my front lawn, and in my driveway. Not only that, but a passel of police officers with their weapons drawn were on my front porch steps trying to get into the house.
What in the heck was going on?
Attention turned to me as I mechanically pulled my car into the large driveway and while some cops remained in position, others fanned out to cover me as if I were the bad guy.
Without even thinking I hopped out of the car and asked, ‘What’s going on?’
The chief of police came up to me and asked who I was. I told him my name and that it was my house, and that, yes, I rented a legally-zoned apartment upstairs.
Apparently, my longtime tenants, who were the ideal renters and who had turned a two-bit, second-rate apartment into what was essentially a million-dollar condo at their own expense, had decided to engage in a brutal marital argument. However, the husband was a head-shaved, steroid-injecting bodybuilder who was totally jacked. I had never seen him as anything but pleasant and friendly, helpful, kind and sweet. His wife/girlfriend was a gentle, hippy-like woman who loved animals and all things flowery. Up til now, they had been the ideal tenants.
But something snapped in the guy that day and during that argument, he took a large kitchen knife and threatened to kill his wife. Somehow she got to her phone and called the cops and now here they were, surrounding the house with weapons, mace, and handcuffs. He had let her go and Social Services, such as it was in our town, had taken her away. Now he was up in the house threatening violence to himself.
The chief of police asked me if he had weapons. I said I didn’t know but he claimed to be an ex-Army combat veteran from the Afghanistan war. The chief ‘suggested’ I go away and come back in an hour. I took his advice and drove away in a peel of rubber. I went to the nearby Starbucks and called all my friends to tell them of the exciting turn of events. An hour or so later, I returned to my house. The cops were gone. Sadly, now all the neighbors were standing around my house looking at me accusingly.
‘It’s not me,’ I explained, ‘It’s the tenants.’
‘Don’t bring this nonsense to the neighborhood,’ one woman said to me bitterly, ‘We don’t need it.’
I was the only one on the block of suburban homes with a registered two-family house and it was sometimes resented. I threw up my hands and went to the house. On the way, I passed a pile of weapon belts and fog macer the cops had apparently left behind. The apartment was not badly damaged, and the cops hadn’t kicked in the door. Apparently, the tenant had given up willingly. The mace fogger and belts sat in my yard until I took them to the police station a few days later where the Chief accepted them sheepishly. I asked him what was happening with the tenant. He shrugged. He was being held on a section, psychiatric hold and would be arraigned later.
Two weeks later, with just the wife living in the apartment, things had gotten back to normal when there was a knock on the door. It was the guy. He looked ashamed and had the nerve to ask me to be the intermediary with his wife/girlfriend to convince her to let him back into the apartment. I told him I bore him no ill will but the glass was broken and could never be repaired. While I would do nothing against him, if he trespassed on the property again, I would call the police.
The apartment had only been in her name all this time. He begged. He even cried but I remained hard-hearted. The last time I saw him he was sprawled out in an Adirondack chair in the front yard of the ramshackle boarding house in town, surrounded by empty Budweiser cans. Apparently, there were warrants out for him in California where he had assaulted some people and did some minor crimes. He had run to Massachusetts to try and start a new life, a new leaf, and be a different man. But the leopard doesn’t change its spots and eventually, he went back to his old ways. Eventually, he was extradited back to California for some reason. I didn’t care why. As long as he was gone, I was happy.
But nothing prepares you for the sight of cop cars all over your yard and cops with drawn weapons surrounding your house.”
“She Always Had A Lamp Or Two On But Not Today”
“It was Christmas time several years ago, I was struggling financially so I told my daughter not to expect too much as far as gifts. I had literally no Christmas decorations for a tree (whole other story) so in my mind, I would rather get her a couple of gifts than purchase a Christmas tree and all the trimmings. I definitely could not do both. It broke my heart but sometimes you have to struggle to appreciate.
Anyway, it had been a long day at work. It was freezing outside, dark, and starting to sleet. I pulled in the driveway to a completely dark house. I was a little concerned as I knew my daughter was home and there were virtually no lights on. She always at least had the porch lights on and a lamp or two but not today. I grabbed my things, walked up the sidewalk, and was struggling with unlocking the door when it suddenly flew open.
My daughter had me close my eyes and when she told me to open them, I saw the most beautiful Christmas tree I have ever seen in my life. It was only four feet tall, had maybe one string of lights, and some cheap tinsel but to me, it was the most gorgeous tree in town. My daughter had gone to her older brother and asked him for a ‘loan’. Instead, he had her do a few chores in his apartment, gave her 25 bucks, and took her to the local dollar store to pick out a tree. Not only was it the best surprise I’ve ever gotten but it was also the best Christmas. Here I was worried about gifts and decorations when in reality, all my daughter cared about was just celebrating the holiday together.”
“It was a weekend day, Saturday or Sunday, I don’t remember. I was working my regular eight-hour shift at the grocery store. My husband at the time had weekends off so he took care of our two girls while I was at work. After my weekend shifts, it seemed as if I could never get home fast enough, and this particular day was no exception.
Every weekend (in the summertime), I would walk in the door and the smell of the barbecue filled the air. The girls would be splashing around in the pool with their dad. Great music playing on the radio and an ice-cold Corona in the fridge with my name on it. That’s what I was expecting when I walked in the door. Only this time, I opened the door and it was very quiet. The dog welcomed me home as I called out for everyone.
My husband came out of our room and said the girls were staying the night with their aunt (my sister), which they did often, and he was going to help a friend of his move. I knew the friend that was moving so none of this seemed out of place to me. I found myself home alone and walking from room to room looking for something to do. At the same time, I had a weird feeling, like some things were missing. It just felt odd to me but I couldn’t really put my finger on it. Now having a quiet evening alone, most people would pour a glass of rosé, light some candles, and enjoy a hot bath. I, however, am crazy about things being organized and clean and I usually find myself scrubbing something during my ‘me time.’ Well, it wasn’t long and I found myself knee-deep in toys and ‘stuff’ in my daughter’s closet. It’s always easier to clean their rooms when they aren’t home. Then there’s no battle over what is trash and what isn’t trash. So I was taking things out of the closet and behind her toybox was a handful of boxes. Moving boxes.
I knew I didn’t put them there and I didn’t like where my thoughts were taking me. I continued cleaning and thinking. On one of my trips into the kitchen, I noticed the checkbook sitting on the counter. My husband handled the bills and banking and I never even looked in the checkbook. I sat down and started going through the carbons that are under each check so you have a copy. I found a carbon that was made out of an apartment complex. On the memo line, it said rent and deposits. I called my sister, who informed me that the girls were with her at my husband’s request. I figured chances were he was not helping anyone to move. He was preparing for himself to move while nobody was home.
Normally I would have been devastated. But because I knew, and he didn’t know that I knew, I felt like I had the upper hand and approached it as a challenge and began making my plan, which I only had a week to do.
During this week, I was informed that he had been asking the girl at our family dentist’s office out on dates. So I called my insurance company and removed him from my insurance. I switched schedules with a girl at work so I would have the coming weekend off and kept my cool for the week. Saturday came and it was obvious he was nervous.
He was completely out of sorts when I didn’t go to work that day. When he asked why I wasn’t working, I simply said I thought he might need help moving. I proceeded to get his boxes and started to pack his things. In the meantime, I had a U-haul pull in front of the house. Then my sister and my dad came over to pick up the girls. I sent them to Disneyland for the weekend so they wouldn’t have to witness any of it. They got in the car with their luggage and great big smiles.
I continued packing boxes and putting them in the U-haul, calmly asking him, ‘Do you want this? Do you want that?’
It only took about two hours and I sent him on his way, full of shame and embarrassment. Needless to say, I made sure the bank account was at zero when he left. It was then, that I poured a glass of rosé, lit some candles, took a long, hot bath, and laughed.”
“Those Weren’t My Curtains”
“In my early 20’s, I had moved to New York from California to pursue my career in fashion. My mom was the person who actually pushed me to go to NY to really give my career a strong start but she was hoping I’d come back to California after a couple of years of experience.
During those early, early years I would travel overseas every two months and spend about five weeks in India and Hong Kong while the newest collection took shape. I was young, single, and didn’t mind being away from my NYC apartment and friends for five weeks at a time since I knew this was a fantastic chance for me to learn my craft.
When I returned home from one of these trips, I peeked up at my apartment window from my cab and saw curtains in the window.
I thought, ‘Oh no, my landlord hasn’t seen me for over a month and must’ve gotten new tenants because those weren’t my curtains. I didn’t have curtains. I didn’t make enough money to decorate my apartment and lived really frugally.’
I got out of the cab and gingerly put my key in the door and it opened the door. I walked in and saw a simple dining room table, chairs, and cozy floor pillows on the living room floor. Beautiful homemade curtains were on the windows. In the kitchen were canisters with cookies and snacks.
I thought, ‘Why would my key work if a new tenant now lived here?’
Then I saw a little angel doll hanging from the ceiling light with a note. The angel doll and note were from my mom. She and my dad had flown from California to surprise me not knowing I was on a business trip. When they saw how empty my apartment and kitchen cabinets were, they set out to furnish it enough for me to be comfortable, including the snacks and cans of soup. They also filled the freezer with chicken and steaks. My mom’s note said they were so proud of me for wanting to hone my career but they were sad that I was living so barely without any signs of comfort. To be honest I was so young and hungry to learn everything about designing clothes that I hardly noticed how bare to the bones I was living. But that first night home in my newly decorated apartment I cried myself to sleep with happiness that my mom and dad loved me so much to spend their week in NY sewing pillows and curtains and filling my beat-up kitchen with food and love, so much love. I ended up staying in NY for another 16 years, loving every minute.
And wouldn’t you know it, when it was my younger sister’s time to move into her first apartment, my other sister and I surprised her, too, with furniture and a stocked kitchen. Family is family!”
Babysitting Gone Wrong
“It was on my second day back at work after four months of maternity leave. I came home to a dark apartment, with the caregiver standing there looking awkward. The scene looked very odd.
I immediately asked, ‘Where is Mila?’
When the caregiver told me she was with the people in unit seven, who I had never met before, I ran out down the hall and knocked on their door. A young woman came to the door, and behind her was an older woman, holding my four-month-old daughter. I introduced myself, asked to hold her, and asked why they had her.
They told me the caregiver had come to their door seeking help from their domestic worker, as Mila apparently was crying inconsolably. At some point, the residents of the flat (an older woman and her adult daughter) intervened, telling the woman to whom I had given care of my baby that she wasn’t coping and they should give her to them, and go home since ‘she didn’t know what she was doing.’
I thought, ‘What?!’
At which point, my caregiver went back to our apartment without the baby. And neither one of them called me at work; neither the caregiver to tell me the baby had been apprehended by strangers, or the neighbors to tell me that my caregiver was incompetent and they had rescued my baby from her.
Now this caregiver had lots of experience (and was recommended to me by someone I knew personally) with older children. In prep, for my first days back at work, she had attended first aid and other baby-care courses. She and I had worked together for over a month in the home caring for the baby as well as sorting out how everything worked, what to do, who to let in (no one), who to call in emergency or help, everyone’s information, and contact details including myself, my husband, close friends, etc. To be honest, she was actually a very lovely person who wanted to do well, in hindsight she was just clearly overwhelmed with the responsibility of a small baby. Now the neighbors?
Their part in this whole story I never understood. If they did feel my child was being endangered by the caregiver, wouldn’t they ask for my contact details to call me and let me know the situation? Who just keeps someone they don’t know’s little baby in their care for the afternoon, without letting the mother know?! They moved out shortly afterward and I never really spoke to them again. I found the entire situation surreal and deeply weird.
But as lovely a person as the caregiver was, she was not able to continue as a caregiver while I was at work. I did actually write her a reference for admittance to school for a travel agents training course. I believe she did very well. Childminding a baby was not for her.”
“I Had Nothing To Go Home To But An Empty House”
“About three years ago, my husband was out of town on business. It was a Thursday evening, and I had nothing to go home to but an empty house. I decided on a whim to treat myself to my favorite pizza at the restaurant. And not on the sofa for a change.
I was almost ready to head to the house when my husband called, ‘Hey, what ya doin’?’
I said, ‘Oh, having a pizza at Vinny’s Pizzeria.’
He said, ‘Wow, what possessed you to do that? We haven’t eaten there in months.’
I said, ‘Exactly. I’m headed home shortly, though. Did you need something?’
He said, ‘No, just had a couple of minutes between meetings to touch base.’
I said, ‘That’s sweet. Love you too. Talk later tonight, ok?’
I got in the car and in about twenty minutes, I was in our driveway. The neighborhood was typically quiet as I grabbed the purse, the briefcase, and the leftover pizza box with one hand and put the keys in the other. The front door had a large leaded glass insert that made visibility in or out difficult, so we often relied on the sidelights to recognize visitors. As I turned the key and pushed the door open, I saw a man standing in front of me in my foyer.
It took a second breath and a full three more seconds to realize it was our grown son who had flown in from Chicago to surprise me for Mother’s Day weekend. My husband had arranged a driver to get him to our house from the airport, but the flights were all on his own dime. When I didn’t get home at my usual time, my husband had to do some investigating to find out what was going on, which explains the earlier phone call. I generally do not like surprises, surprise parties, etc. and they know it. But this was one surprise I will forever cherish!”
“I worked as a waitress and worked split shifts several days a week; 10–3 for the lunch shift and 5–10 for the dinner shift or until the rush died down, and returned home around 10 pm. I did not notice anything off at the time and after having a snack, went to bed. During the night, I heard it start to rain and got up to make sure all my windows were closed.
All the windows but the bathroom window were, indeed, closed; however, as I stared sleepily at the open bathroom window, I thought, ‘Didn’t I have a screen in this window? Where is my screen?’
It took a couple of minutes for my mind to get complete online and I realized I should have a darn screen. That’s when I realized someone had taken the screen off the window and I had been robbed.
As a waitress, I kept my tips in the house until I had enough to make it worth the trip to take the money to the bank. I kept my tips on top of my fridge in a jar, hidden behind cans of cat food, and had had a large fishbowl that was about 1/3 filled with silver dollars, half dollars, Susan B. Anthony dollars, and two dollar bills; those two items were the only things missing and that was why I did not realize at first that I had been robbed. All in total it was probably about 650 dollars in bills and coins. The money on top of the fridge was earmarked as my rent money and I had intended to take it to the bank the morning before the robbery.
I never made it to the bank because a ‘friend of a friend’ had made an unexpected visit the night before, and when I indicated it was time for him to go home, gave me a sob story about how he had nowhere to stay that night. I bought the story and let him sleep on my couch, he promised he would be out at first light. He wasn’t. He was still there when I got up and delayed me so much that I just had time to get to work and had to skip going to the bank.
I did not know him very well and was so uncomfortable having him in my house that I slept with a kitchen knife under my pillow but was too soft-hearted to make him ‘stand under a lamp post’ (his words) until dawn.
I called the police, of course, but I had no proof he had done the robbery so did not mention him and no one was ever caught for the robbery.
Oh, by the way, the friend who originally brought him to my house admitted he was a ‘bad guy’ from New York City but never thought he would rob me. When I asked him why he would bring such a person around me, he said the guy scared him and he didn’t want to make him mad. Thanks, friend.”
“It Was Locked From The Inside”
“On one particular afternoon, I was feeling a bit dizzy so I left office early. Came home and could not open the door. Apparently, it was locked from the inside. I was a bit surprised as no one was supposed to be at home at that time. I called my roommate and asked if she too came back early. But no, she was at her work. I suspected that someone had broken into our house. I became very tense as I was alone and did not know the number and intention of intruders.
So many things crossed my mind, ‘Maybe they are burglars, maybe they are a gang of psychopaths, or maybe they are here because of all the things I have been posting on social media.’
Law enforcement agencies generally are not very quick to respond in this part of the world. Fortunately, our next-door neighbor was also a police officer. So, I knocked on his door and luckily, found him having lunch. I told him the situation and he came out to check on our apartment. He took the key from me and tried to unlock the door himself. But he failed as well. He then brought his weapon from inside, kicked on the door, and called out for the intruders to come out. I went behind him to shield myself and was waiting for something cinematic to happen.
Meanwhile, my roommate arrived. She saw us in a weird position and asked us to calm down. She asked me if I had been trying with the right key and rotating the key in the right direction.
‘You need to twist the key twice’ she added.
I gave her the key and sarcastically asked her to try it herself. She did and it opened on our faces. I still don’t have a clear idea about the reason, why on earth two of us could not open the door with the same key. The lock locked twice, perhaps that very tired me had unlocked it just once every time.
Our neighbor embarrassingly put his weapon back in his pocket and said, ‘Dude why are we so stupid?’
I agreed and told him to keep it a secret to avoid further embarrassment. However, my roommate told the incident to all of our friends and I got mercilessly trolled.”