Mother: The first time I had a close look at The Man Next Door was one winter evening when I answered a knock at the front door.There stood a bright-eyed, pleasant-faced young man, looking friendly, and somewhat excited.
I didn't recognise him as The Man Next Door until he introduced himself.
The Man Next Door: I'm your next door neighbour, who lives on that side.
Mother: I'm sorry I didn't recognise you. You look much better up close.
The Man Next Door: I'm sorry, but my garbage bin seems to be on your front verandah.
Mother: Really! I usually check the number on the bin, but this morning I was in a hurry.That bin was the only one left out the front so I assumed it was ours. Sorry about that. I wonder where our bin is.
(They both looked up and down the street of terrace houses, and could see only one bin left out on the footpath, well up towards the end of the street.)
The Man Next Door: I'll go and see if that one is your's.
Mother: That would be very nice of you. I haven't got shoes on, only sox.
(The Man Next Door hurried away along the footpath and returned triumphant with the bin.)
The Man Next Door: It's your bin.
Mother: Oh, that's wonderful. I'm very grateful to you.
(She thinks) What a nice man.
(The Man Next Door stood there and seemed to want to talk some more.)
The Man Next Door: Did you hear anything going on in my backyard one night last week, while I was away?
Mother: We didn't know you were away.Yes, I heard noises and voices one night but I couldn't see what was going on. Alpha heard noises too, and he could see something going on in your backyard. Next morning he said that he wondered why you were removing timber from your backyard in the middle of the night.
The Man Next Door: It wasn't me removing the timber. Some men pulled down my back fence so they could take out all the timber in my backyard and take it up to The Block. It was a cold night and they must have somehow known about the timber in my backyard and they had decided to get it to make a big fire to keep them warm while they stood around drinking and talking. They took my wheelbarrow too.
At about the same time, the man who lives opposite me heard and saw some men trying to break into my house through the front door, and he called the police. When the police came they caught two men in your backyard, trying to break into the back of your house, after failing to get in through the back of my house.
Mother: We had no idea all that was going on.
The Man Next Door: After I came back home, and found out what had happened in my absence, I went down to The Block and found people warming themselves around a fire, with a big pile of timber close by, along with my wheelbarrow.
I said to them "That's my timber you are burning, and that's my wheelbarrow."
They protested when I tried to take back my wheelbarrow, but I took it anyway.
When I got back home again I still had to re erect my back fence.
Mother: Fancy all that happening. And we may never have found out about it if I hadn't brought in the wrong garbage bin.
I hate to imagine what might have happened if the men had managed to break into our house without being caught, while we were asleep.