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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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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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