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Ryn: Beware of wailing baby and other Tucson scams

RYN GARGULINSKI

Illustration by Ryn Gargulinski

Never answer your door to a wailing baby.

While the obvious reason is to shield yourself from a headache, diaper change, spittle and all other fun stuff wailing babies are known to offer, it’s also to protect yourself from a scam.

One legendary ploy tells of folks who hear a wailing baby or pitifully mewling kitten right outside their door.

Being kindhearted, these folks open the door to rescue the poor waif.

They are then immediately bashed in the head with a two-by-four and left bleeding on the porch steps while the people who played the tape recording of the wailing baby or mewling kitting are free to rob the house.

While no screaming baby came to my door of late, I did have another visitor with a game that smelled as bad as the soiled baby diaper.

My first mistake was breaking one of my cardinal rules: I answered the door.

Unless you’re expecting someone, people at the door are usually nosy neighbors, bill collectors or long lost friends you wish would stay long lost.

The dude at the door said he was from an alarm company and wanted to put one of those little alarm security signs in my front yard.

In exchange for the free advertising, the company would install the system for free, a $1,200 value, said he.

He had neither a business card nor brochure to leave. He wanted an answer right then and there or he’d offer it to someone else.

He also name-dropped a neighbor who he claimed was fully delighted to go with the deal and wanted to check to make sure my home had the same layout as hers.

At this point he started pushing his way into my house.

At this point I told him to go fly a kite. I also got his name and cell phone number on a scrap of paper then swiftly called the alarm company.

Well, it took about a week to call the alarm company. I had to first ruminate about what a close call I had since the guy was surely a rapist, robber and throat-slasher disguised as an alarm man.

No, the alarm company said when I finally called, we don’t usually employ rapists, robbers and throat-slashers. Yes, we are running a similar-sounding special in your area.

The rep also said their employees should have corporate ID numbers that you can check on the company’s Web site.

It was unusual he didn’t have brochures but not that he didn’t have business cards.

“We’re trying to go green,” the rep said.

As for trying to shove his way into my house? He could have simply been a crappy salesman.

Another possible Tucson scam is the dude posing as the moving man.

A guy comes to the door with a dolly and other moving equipment. When you answer, he claims he has the wrong house. If you don’t, he promptly breaks in and takes everything you own.

Since he’s already armed with those big blankets that insure your tabletops won’t get scratched, hauling out all your belongings is no great feat.

Neighbors probably wouldn’t even blink in these days of foreclosures and repossessed belongings.

Scammers especially like to prey on single women, seniors and others who they think are vulnerable.

One senior in Indiana was left with a busted-up front porch when a scammer posed as a home improvement specialist, according to Senior Magazine Online. She scammer took a sledgehammer to the porch, took money from the senior to go get more supplies, and then never came back.

Another Indiana senior, who was unable to get outside to supervise the work, paid to have new asphalt installed on the driveway. After taking the cash, the scammer coated the top of the old driveway with motor oil to make it look black.

Have a nice day.

Your day will be even nicer if you’re always on guard, always ask for ID or a license number for professions that should be licensed and never hand over cash.

It would be nicer still if you followed my rule and simply didn’t answer the door.

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist and performer who is going to keep with her belief of never answering the door. Her column appears every Friday at TucsonCitizen.com. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Listen to her webcast at 4 p.m. Fridays at www.party934.com. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitrizen.com

Gallery of Tucson scams, TucsonCitizen.com archives:

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Ants swarm Tucson coffee shop

Only one local coffee shop could get away with being besieged by ants, monkeys, strange dogs, elephants and neon green paint that looks like blood dripping down the doorway.

That one is Epic Cafe, 745 N. Fourth Ave., corner of East University Boulevard.

Even if I weren’t June’s featured artist (full disclosure), I dig the place for its groovy vibe and even groovier artwork on display.

Shop owner Two Feathers (yes, his real name) features a local artist each month inside the shop and continues to be amazed by the artwork that pops up on the exterior walls.

“It just shows up there,” he said, wanting to usher me outside to take a gander at the bloody neon paint and the depiction of a kid reading a book to an elephant. Two Feathers leaves the creations he likes.

Epic is definitely a hot spot for its couches, community, cakes and kookiness.

Oh yes, it also serves some dang good coffee.

What’s your favorite Tucson coffee shop and why?

Do you favor flavor over ambiance or vice versa?

(Dunkin Donuts has THE best French vanilla coffee, but I don’t really dig hanging out there.)

Epic ants/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Epic ants/Photo Ryn Gargulinski


Epic owner Two Feathers/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Epic owner Two Feathers/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Epic exterior door/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Epic exterior door/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Bloody neon/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Bloody neon/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Epic elephant/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Epic elephant/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
My monkey that's now at Epic/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
My monkey that's now at Epic/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
My dog that's now at Epic/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
My dog that's now at Epic/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
My jerk that's now at Epic/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
My jerk that's now at Epic/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
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Grand Canyon: Beauty or a beast?

Anyone who has been to the Grand Canyon – or even seen photos of it – knows what an awesome and intriguing wonder it is.

But it can also be a “terrible beauty, ” to coin a phrase used by poet William Butler Yeats.

Even folks using common sense can fall prey to the sheer drops, unrelenting conditions and potential death that lurks just beyond every rock.

Please note: this is not to scare people from taking in the grandness of the Canyon, just a reminder in any hiking situation to watch your step, travel in pairs and steer very clear of the edge.

Two incidents this week, one fall and one death, illustrate the dangers:

NPS Photo by Shannon Miller
NPS Photo by Shannon Miller

Woman Rescued After Fall at Grand Canyon National Park, National Park Service news release
Grand Canyon, Ariz. – Late Thursday afternoon, park rangers rescued a 38-year-old woman who had fallen approximately 50 feet near a popular view point in Grand Canyon National Park.
At about 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 4, the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received two separate 9-1-1 calls from park visitors who reported seeing a woman slip and fall over the edge at Mather Point.
Upon arriving at the scene, park rangers found the woman about three-quarters of a mile west of Mather Point. She was approximately 50 feet below the rim.
Rescue personnel rappelled down to the woman and secured her so that they could assess her injuries. Once she was stable enough to move, the woman was packaged in a litter, and park staff used a rope haul system to pull her up to the rim.  She was back on the rim by 6:30 p.m.
The woman was transported by Classic Lifeguard Aeromedical Service to the Flagstaff Medical Center where she is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Body of Missing Hiker Found in Grand Canyon National Park, National Park Service news release
Grand Canyon, Ariz. – A body, presumptively identified as 69-year-old Robert (Bob) A. Williams, was found June 1 by park search and rescue personnel in the Hermit Basin area of Grand Canyon National Park.
On May 26, park rangers received a report that Williams was overdue from his Memorial Day weekend plans which had included hiking in Grand Canyon National Park.
On May 27, after finding Williams’ vehicle on the South Rim, park rangers began searching a broad area-from Hermit Basin to the South Kaibab area-that could easily be accessed on foot or via shuttle from the point where Williams’ vehicle was found.
On May 29, park rangers were able to narrow their search to the Hermit Basin area based on information received after issuing a public request for assistance to anyone who had hiked in the park’s backcountry during the Memorial Day weekend.
On Monday, June 1, search personnel were once again in the Hermit Basin, using a spotting scope to check difficult to access scree slopes and cliff areas. Based on information received from the spotters, search crews investigated an area _ mile south of Santa Maria springs. At approximately 10 a.m., searchers found Williams’ body located approximately 200 feet below the Hermit Trail.
The remains were transported by helicopter to the South Rim helibase where they were transferred to the Coconino County Medical Examiner.

My only Grand Canyon experience was when I was about 2 and my mom tells me all I did was try to get candy from the vending machines.

One of my friend’s dogs went leaping over a sheer cliff, landing dozens of feet below. The dog survived but always acted kind of strange, like it had brain damage, after that one.

Have you ever had a hiking tragedy, in the Grand Canyon or elsewhere?

Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon?

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Leaving water jugs in the desert is littering

Tucsonan Walter Staton, 27, might have thought he was being kind when, as part of the group No More Deaths, he continued to leave water jugs in the desert for illegal immigrants.

A federal jury called this “kindness” littering, and found the guy guilty of knowingly leaving debris in a National Wildlife Refuge.

Jury Finds Tucson Man Guilty, District of Arizona’s Office of the U.S. Attorney news release

The evidence at trial showed that the defendant was a member of an organization called No More Deaths, whose volunteers sometimes leave water jugs on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in the hopes that illegal aliens crossing the border will use the water. On December 4, 2008, Staton left water jugs on the Refuge despite knowing that he could be ticketed for littering. Staton had previously been quoted in news articles stating that despite a prior conviction of another member of his group for the same violation, that he would continue to leave plastic water jugs in the Refuge.

A conviction for knowingly littering carries a maximum penalty of one year confinement, a $100,000 fine or both. In determining an actual sentence, Judge Guerin will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
desert
Staton deserves some type of punishment for two reasons:

1. He snubbed his nose at previous warnings

2. He’s technically abetting criminals, no?

What do you think?

Is a year in prison and $100,000 a ridiculous maximum punishment?

Should he punished at all?

Is No More Deaths doing the right thing?

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Yappie Yorkie among those honored for saving lives

A yappie Yorkie named Tuffy is just one of 15 honorees recognized for saving a life in the past year.

In addition to Tuffy, the American Red Cross Southern Arizona Chapter’s honorees include seven kids and seven adults who were in the right place at the right time and did the right thing.

While I’m prone to focus in the dog, these life-saving people should get at least equal billing. One of the most amazing was the kid who knew to put sugar in her brother’s mouth when he slipped into a diabetic coma. On second thought, they are all amazing.

2009 Real Heroes:

Tuffy – yapped loud enough to alert his owners to get the heck out of the burning house (pictured with his dad Brad Bishop)

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Cody Pacheco – rushed for help when his dad tumbled and became unconscious on the ski slopes

Sam Gelardi – baseball coach who saved young player when sunflower seeds lodged in the player’s throat and nearly choked the boy to death

Daniel Hoback, Carlos Franco and Carlos Monteverde – saved the life of a Tohono O’Odham police officer whose car was hit and burst into flames

Clayton Trevillyan – rescued a severely bleeding man from the side of the railroad tracks

Jesus Bernal – revived a toddler who nearly drowned in a resort pool

John Wettack – saved his friend from death from a heart attack

Christina Street – 5-year-old who rescued her baby brother from the family’s burning home

Kids Saving Lives Special Heroes Award:

Dannik Batiste – saved brothers from doom when a pizza box caught fire on the stove

Jesse Lesnewski – 8-year-old who placed sugar in her brother’s mouth to get him out of a diabetic coma

Dominique Rodriguez Armstrong – 8-year-old who saved her family from a burning home

Valencia Pierce – 6-year-old who came to her mother’s rescue by calling 911 and providing vital, life-saving information

Tahmani Williams – 12-year-old who rescued uncle, who was in a diabetic coma, by dragging him from a burning home

Read more on the heroes at Red Cross Arizona.

Did you ever save a life or have your life saved?

Do you know any other heroes?

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