Advice from the Trenches: Hiding from UPS

HidingInFearDear C and Dr. B;

On Saturday at 3pm I received a frantic call from my 14-year-old daughter, who was home alone while we were out. There was someone at the door, ringing the doorbell a lot! She said a red minivan was parked in our driveway. She was huddled in her room with the house phone, ready to dial 911 while she was on her cell to us. We were not expecting anyone or any packages. “What should I do?” she asked. She was frightened.

Last week there was a home invasion the next town over, and in our town, someone tried to coax a child into a van. I’ve read online how much safer it is these days than ever before, but I think that’s complete B.S. Even my Alexa device reported on its feed that home-grown terrorism is on the rise with the encouragement of white nationalism. My daughter’s school has lock-down drills similar to the nuclear bomb drills I had growing up.

So, my daughter didn’t answer the door. She pretended to not be home, and I think she did the right thing. It was probably someone just asking permission to take away the stove we had out at the curb, but you never can be too careful.

But here’s what made me think – at Sunday service they read this story from the old testament regarding the welcoming of strangers into your house, where by not welcoming the stranger the family is punished. Are they kidding? What is “the right thing” anymore?

No Welcome Matt


Dear Matt;

It is a confusing world. “Love thy neighbor“ used to be a golden rule, but now, my neighbor is stockpiling guns because he fears the Democrats will take away his 2nd Amendment rights. In my own town, there were two disturbing incidents at the local high school this week – one, a racist defamation, and the other, a hate crime. We are living in a time of divisive politics, and the opiate crisis has touched just about everyone one. We all feel the unrest.

Your daughter was probably overreacting, but she did nothing wrong. Optimists may say, “Live in the world the way you wish it to be.” Having a young daughter myself, I prefer to err on the side of caution.

Is this good for our collective psychology? Probably not but, being Jewish, I come from a culture where those in authority were truly out to get us.

Back when the bible stories developed, the world was very sparsely populated. I suspect that with so few people, they had to help each other out or die. This developed into some code that was taught and allowed for travel to be possible. We live in a different world these days. These old codes might sound good, but they really don’t apply anymore. The main danger today is not predators in the wild, but people. In global areas of environmental hardship and fewer individuals, these codes probably still exist and apply.

I asked my wife what she’d want our daughter to do. She said “I don’t want her opening the door!”

Dr. B


C says: While it is true that there is wisdom in self protection, and your daughter was wise to not open the door, what I find sad about it is the huddled fear.

“Fear is the mind killer…” It is a line from Dune, the Frank Herbert sci-fi classic. And no truer line defines the grappling hook thrust into our way of life today. We have become afraid of terrorists, of invading immigrants, of mass killers, of each other. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of damned good reasons, which is too bad – because that fear can become a cage that we are never able to step out of.

Here’s my advice to your daughter, and all of us: Don’t be afraid, just be be smart. Don’t answer the door if you feel uncomfortable. After all, if it’s UPS or any legitimate carrier, they will leave a notice or just come back. But don’t be cowed. Don’t let the fear kill your rational mind. Let it be another situation to judge and handle. Make a sensible choice. Feel strong, not backed into a corner.

As to welcoming the stranger? If the stranger is pounding at your door, they probably ain’t from Federal Express. Don’t let them in. If they really need help, then calling 911 is the best way to make sure they get it.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at

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