The Wanderlust Lady and the Door to Door Salesman - 5
August 30, continued.
I found this plan of the old lady's too much to get my head around.
She seemed to think that my boss was using me as a sort of spying
agent on these old people. I didn't like the thought of that, and yet –
there was a sort of possibility about the idea. And now here the old
lady was demanding whether I was in or out on her crazy scheme to try
to trap the potential burglars.
"I don't think you've thought this through," I said. "First of all, the
police have far too much to do to sit watching this house for days on
end on the off chance that some potential burglar might turn up. And
obviously if the burglars thought the house was being watched, they'd
"I think we'd have to be more subtle than that. We could rig up
some sort of electronic devise that could take a picture of the person
while they were in the house - something like that."
"And who would do that do you think? The police? This isn't the
Great Train Robbery we're talking about here. They wouldn't have the
time or money to set up that sort of trap."
"What about a listening device - what are they called - ants or flies
or bugs or something like that?"
"So you think the burglar is going to talk to the coffee jar while he's
robbing it, do you?"
"No, maybe you're right about that. But there must be some way.
What about finger prints?"
"If they were at all clever, they'd wear gloves."
"What about one of those cameras that they have at the bank and
places like that. It could be hidden so he couldn't see it, but it would
record him going into the kitchen and searching for the money."
"Again, the money involved in setting up something like that would
be considerable. I can't believe the police will even take you seriously,
much less go along with this hair brained scheme of yours."
"Well, if you think my ideas are so dumb, come up with some
suggestions of your own."
"Do you have a computer?"
"Do you have any friends you could borrow one from?"
"No. Don't be stupid. I told you I don't have any friends. And
anyway, if there was a computer here it would be one more thing for
them to steal."
"I was thinking about the camera you can connect to the computer -
which we might be able to somehow set up to get a picture of the
"No, the more that I think of it, the more convinced I am that you'll
have to catch the burglar red handed yourself."
"Me? I have to be out selling my stuff. I can't just sit in here every
day waiting for your cock-eyed scheme to come off. What would I get
out of it anyway? I'll lose my job and maybe even get into trouble for
giving information in the first place - if that’s what you think those
sheets are that we fill out are for.”
"Do the bosses follow you around? Check up on you?"
"No. They just assign an area to us each day - drop us off - and pick
us up at the end of the day. The rest of the time, presumably they're off
doing their other jobs - interviewing new sales people - buying goods -
stuff like that."
"Well then, nobody'd know if you were here all day or not."
"They'd know if I hadn't sold anything or filled out any of those
"You'd have to fake some of those - just to keep them from
"Are you going to buy £50 of stuff from me each day while I'm
hiding out in your house just so you can play your silly cops and
"No. I know. You'll just keep on doing what you've been doing -
and I'll go out walking like I normally do, but then I'll double back and
sneak in through the back door - and keep all the lights and noise
down, so the house seems empty."
"And if they did come - what would you do then? If you confronted
them, there's every chance they'd hit you and maybe even kill you.
Why don't we just forget all about this, and I'll go back out in the rain
and try to sell some more of my stuff before lunch."
"So you won't go along with it then?"
"Well in some ways I'm tempted - but I just can't see it working.
First of all you might be completely wrong - and all this setting stuff
up would be for nothing. We might wait days or weeks even and
nothing would happen. Then even if we did get somebody to come
around and try to steal something - catching them wouldn't be easy but
one thing I know for sure - I'd be out on my ear, and probably a lot
worse. Because if they really were baddies, they wouldn't take kindly
to my trying to trap them."
"I don't think they'd know that you were trapping them. They'd
think you were just doing what you always innocently do - reporting
on whose house you've been in and what you found of interest. If you
carried on selling your stuff and were nowhere near here when they
were caught - they'd just think they were unlucky and not tie it up with
you at all."
"I can't buy that. If these people are crooks, then they're clever.
They'll put two and two together and I'll be for it. Sorry, lady. It was
fun having this talk with you - but I don't want you to buy anything
from me now, with your roll of bills from the coffee can. I'll just get
out of here, and try my luck somewhere else. Nice knowing you," I
said and I put my jacket on and started for the door.
"What's the cheapest thing you've got in your bag?"
"Clothes pegs - 20 for £2."
"Daylight robbery. Worth about 20 p," she said.
"I never told you this stuff was cheap."
"Okay. I'll just go to my coffee canister and get out my roll of
notes," she said smiling.
She went into the kitchen and came back with a five pound note.
"I haven't got change. You're my first customer."
"Keep the change. And don't forget to write your little note about
"Thanks. Well, so long."
"Think about it, kid. You know my address. Minnie at 16 Oak
Lane. I don't have a mobile phone or anything like that. If you change
your mind, you can write me a note and tell me how to contact you.
And in the meantime, listen in to what they say when you're delivered
and picked up. Now that you're more aware of what might be going on
see if you can get any clues as to what their plans are."
"Okay, but don't expect anything to happen. I'm just a peaceful sort
of guy - not looking for trouble - trying to make an honest day's pay
for an honest day's work."
I shut the door behind myself and started down her path, but looked
back to see if there really was a flower pot that might have her key
under it. There was. A little white one turned upside down. She was
standing by the window, and waved to me. "Stupid old cow," I
muttered under my breath.
The rain had stopped by 2 p.m. and I managed a few more sales, so
when I got to the pick up point, I'd made £45. Not bad considering I'd
wasted the best part of an hour with that old biddy who'd told me her
name was Minnie. I'd written up the note about her - more or less as
she'd suggested that I did. I said there was nothing of interest in her
house, but that she had her money in a coffee canister in the kitchen
and joked about keeping her key under a flower pot in the front yard.
Then with second thoughts, I crossed off the bit about the key. They
didn't need to know that - and I quite liked the old duck.
The other five blokes and I were picked up at 6 p.m. as usual at the
car park, and sat in the back of the van, chatting about the weather, the
football which was on telly that evening, how we were longing for a
beer - the usual stuff. When we got back to the pick up point I handed
in my set of notes and the cash to the driver - as the others did.
Just to toss in a remark as we did this I said, "End of the month
tomorrow. Will we be paid for these slips then?"
"Nothing to do with me," said the driver. "I only collect them from
you. Sadie's in charge of payouts."
"Will she come tomorrow then and pick us up instead of you?"
"No change of plan as far as I know."
One of the other sales blokes was listening to this exchange. He was
a bit older than the rest of us and had the look of somebody who'd been
in a lot of fights – sort of scarred and rough looking. "She'll contact
you individually by post," he said. "That's what she did with me. She
sent me my dues with a note saying that was what it was for."
"And did you get a lot?"
"None of your damn business," said the man moving off down the