What would YOU do?

Someone I Know (hereinafter refered to as SIK) related an incident at his home that occurred some weeks ago, and I thought that this blog would be a good place to mention it.

In the wee hours of the morning, SIK woke up, went to the living room for some reason or other, and found a stranger passed out on his couch.  He tried rousing him to no avail.  Shook him a bit, even, as you would do to wake up someone for an urget conversation.  No response.  The stranger was breathing, but obviously very drunk.  SIK went back to bed.  In the morning SIK’s wife went to the combination room to make coffee while SIK managed to rouse said drunk for a little chat.  Mr. 20-something-year-old Drunk didn’t know where he was at first.  He apologized for the intrusion.  SIK offered him a ride.  Drunk declined, and went on his way.  Wife said that she thought she’d seen him at a nearby house before (nothing suspicious – just there, like a neighbor or friend of a neighbor) but wasn’t sure.  SIK and his wife have guns in the house and know how to use them, if that matters to you.

End of story.

What would you do?  What is the right thing to do?  SIK has no small children or anyone else at the house.  Just he and his wife, if that matters to you.  I think it would matter to me, as I am something of a mother bear if you will.  I don’t know the answer for my sake.  There are many, many situations that are extremely difficult, at best, to second-guess if you’re not there– if you’re not the person responsible for making the decision.  So don’t.  You weren’t.  Just think about it.  I can tell you from experiences (though very different from this scenerio) that I have a hard time going counter to my “instinct”, which ever way that “instinct” might go.  Or is it “conscience”?  That could be a strength or it could be a weakness.  I admit that I don’t know.  Reason, alone, as I believe most people think of it, doesn’t always provide the best answer, but then maybe it depends on the depth of the reason.  In this case I think it could be argued that SIK made the worst possible decision, from a “tactical” point of view, and that at the same time it had the best possible outcome.  But what if the guy had been in a diebetic coma or something?

Edited to Add; The front door was unlocked, so the guy just walked in.


22 thoughts on “What would YOU do?

  1. SIK was in Condition White. Sounds like SIK didn’t adequately secure his home before going to bed, or slept through quite a racket as the guy busted in. (I wonder if he even bothered to lock his bedroom door after he gave up trying to rouse the drunk?) There’s no way I could sleep in my own home with some stranger crashed-out on my sofa. If that had happened to me I would have called 911 and had the police clear the drunk from my home while I holed-up with my family to our safe room. Let the cops run the risk of the guy being a nasty drunk when he’s woken up.

  2. I would have done the same thing I did about two years ago under different but similar circumstances. I went to an all-night laundromat to do laundry around midnight, it’s not staffed at night and I kind of like the solitude and not dealing with the weirdos who generally haunt the place during the day. I live in a generally low crime area, I would NOT have gone to one of the laundromats closer to the college campus, students from Philadelphia and NJ probably account for 25% of the serious criminal activity around here and I was far enough from where they roam to be safe. I got my laundry started and had to use the bathroom, but when I got there the door was locked. It is not unusual for someone to accidentally lock the door and the knob can be unlocked using a quarter (yeah, real secure), so after knocking repeatedly and asking if anyone was in there I popped the lock and opened the door to find a young man sleeping on the floor. No amount of yelling (there are no residences or active businesses close, I yelled LOUD) would rouse him nor would some nudges with my foot (one hand was occupied on the butt of my pistol, the other was on a grab bar for balance/support in case of an attack.) Nothing roused him so I called 911. It took the cop probably two minutes to wake him, getting closer to him than I would have when I was there alone. Not knowing who he was or having any idea what he was doing there, I assumed that anything was possible and while concerned for his safety and health, mine took a HUGE precedence! Turns out he lived in a nearby town and had come to our town to drink with “friends” and they had abandoned him…in the process of walking back he decided to crash in the bathroom. The cop, whom I knew only slightly, seemed annoyed that I had disturbed him but ended up giving the guy a ride so the guy got a ride and I got to pee and do my laundry without looking over my shoulder…win, win. I was afraid he might be an OD, diabetic, or had some other medical issue and not just a drunken idiot with shitbag friends. In my own home I wouldn’t have even tried to wake an intruder, I would have called 911 while covering with my Mossberg and would have “encouraged” him to wait for their arrival if he woke!

  3. Phase 1: Arm up, call cops and an ambulance to remove the intruder (assuming SIK is imprudent enough to not already have weapon(s) at the ready), and press charges for trespass, breaking and entering, etc. Phase 2: Figure out how intruder got in. Phase 3: secure that access to prevent future incursions. Phase 3B: Mrs. SIK contacts divorce attorney because SIK obviously is completely unconcerned about her safety.

    The liability issues in an event like this are substantial: personal liability from intruder attack, liability for simple theft, liability for not exercising reasonable judgment for potential life threatening medical condition on the part of the intruder, etc.

  4. I’m with Blake. Secure family, hole up with weapons in hand, call 911 and let the cops deal with it– whether it’s a crazy, a harmless, drunk, a belligerent junkie, or a guy with a genuine medical condition causing him to be there, they can figure it out. I’m not even going to nudge the dude — Bizarroworld indicators are already too high.

    I MIGHT shout at him, while 911 is on the line and AFTER I’ve secured myself and the lawful guests — but I’ll do it from behind an obstacle or barricade, with a weapon in hand, in case he goes all beserkergang on me.

  5. I had a similar situation except it was 30 years ago at the condo club house which requires a key for entry. I went in to get the squeegee for the tennis court and found a guy, completely naked, sound asleep on the couch. I didn’t recognize him as anyone living at the condo and then found the hot tub room had a window open and the screen taken off.

    His clothes were in the hot tub room and I hid them in a closet. Then, with tennis racket in hand, woke him up. I tried to ask him who he was and where he lived but he ran off to the hot tub area. He became more talkative when he realized his clothes weren’t there. He explained he had been at a party with friends at the condo the night before but when he went to ride his motor cycle home it started raining really hard and he had been drinking too. So rather that ask to stay the night or for a ride from his friend he climbed in through the window to find a place to sleep until the rain stopped. His clothes were wet so he took the off.

    I didn’t find anything broken or missing so I gave him his clothes back and escorted him out of the club house. He got on his motorcycle and rode away.

    I reported him to the condo association and they decided no further action was necessary other than to make sure the windows were latched every night.

  6. I can’t imagine going back to sleep with a complete stranger in the next room. Drunks have a way of awakening abruptly, once they’ve metabolized the alcohol it’s a sugar high and they’re awake.

    Last March I, in a moment of stupidity, picked up a hitchhiker who turned out to be stoned and who fell asleep in my car. Questions did not reveal her name or her destination, nor where she came from, so not knowing of any shelters nearby, I took her to the local PD who also attempted to question her. The desk volunteer (the sergeant was questioning the young woman) told me to next time, call 877 ask lapd (not the local pd, btw). I thought to myself there will never be a next time, I could never be so lucky a second time. The hitchhiker was lucky, too. She’d better re think her choices for preferred nocturnal recreation. I’ve seen enough true crime TV shows to know that walking around on a busy but pedestrian-free street at 11 pm stoned out of your mind is a good way to have your parents crying on the 6:00 news.

    this SIK was remarkably low-key about the whole matter, and he was lucky the drunk wasn’t drunk while trying to be a burglar so that he decided to resume the task once he sobered up.

  7. I’d call 911 (while armed, holstered but ready). You have no way of knowing that he’s “just” drunk, that it’s only alcohol, or that he won’t turn hostile when he wakes up. Even if he is, it is, and he won’t, if he’s drunk enough that you can’t wake him up, there’s a good chance he’s drunk enough that he can’t protect his airway – it would royally suck to wake up the next morning to find a corpse on your couch because he choked on his own vomit during the night, and end up having to answer questions like “Why didn’t you call 911 when you couldn’t wake him up?” when his family drags you to court for the wrongful death lawsuit.

    But what if the guy had been in a diebetic coma or something?

    This. Hyperglycemic episodes (extremely high blood sugar) causes the body to produce ketones, which impart a “fruity” odor to someone’s breath. This is frequently mistaken for an odor of alcohol, and that mistake can be deadly.

    If you’re uninvited, passed out on my couch, and I can’t wake you up, the cops and an ambulance crew are going to be the ones eventually waking you up. If I can wake you up, rest assured that Mr. Fortyfive will be standing by, and the cops will still be coming to find out why you’re in my house uninvited.

  8. SIK has no dog. I do. You may also want to know that SIK is a former bouncer who practices hand-tohand combat as a hobby. I did several practices with those guys, they try to really make things as realistic as possible. I quite after cracking rib. SIK and Mrs. SIK have guns as indicated in the post.

    SIK is a libertarian who would not call police unless there was no other option, and so far he hasn’t been able to come up with a scenarios in which there was no other option. This policy is the result of many experiences with police, who, in SIK’s words, have only been able to make matters worse, or turn on you outright.

    I’m not saying I agree completely, but it is interesting.

  9. I grew up in Northern Virginia in the 60’s and knew a lot of men like SIK. They were hard core combat veterans from Korea and WWII (the Vietnam vets had not had time to “season” yet, they have now) they were the sweetest people you could ever imagine and by no coincidence the deadliest. They didn’t get their panties in a bunch over much of anything. After surviving places like Iwo Jima, Normandy, Chosin Resevior; a drunk guy stumbling in and sleeping it off on their couch would have drawn a grin and reflection of their youth and probably a blanket tossed over them. Pity the fool that tried to take advantage of their hospitality. I am positive that some of these men would have been half asleep as they quickly killed the guy and then went back to bed. The drunk was potentially in much greater peril than the homeowner.

  10. The SOP for someone passing out on my couch is that we either A.Pretty them up with make-up, or B.Draw a penis on their face with a Sharpie. 🙂

  11. Oh come on now. You can go with your gut instinct. People do stupid stuff when they are drunk. I would have determined him to be no threat to me or anyone else, and gone back to bed. Locking the bedroom door of course. No need to cover him with a shotgun while I called the police, that’s just getting ridiculous.

  12. I wouldn’t done much differently.

    I would in the future lock up the house better and look into a dog or alarm system.

  13. I’d have taken the dogs to the pound, since they didn’t do their jobs, figure out why the multiple layers of alarms and security failed, handcuffed the SOB, made certain he was in no medical distress, and called the sheriff to come get the trespasser.

    Or maybe tattooed “I’m a Drunk Pansie” on his forehead in fuchsia.

    Just drunk? Sorry, but stupid should be both painful and expensive. Otherwise it is self-sustaining.

  14. SIK is a libertarian who would not call police unless there was no other option, and so far he hasn’t been able to come up with a scenarios in which there was no other option. This policy is the result of many experiences with police, who, in SIK’s words, have only been able to make matters worse, or turn on you outright.

    A point of view I can certainly agree with. In my case, my main reason for calling 911 (if I couldn’t wake him up) wouldn’t be for the police, but for EMS for the reasons I indicated. The police would come along as a matter of routine.

    In the other scenario, where I could wake him up, it would be to cover my backside in case he later stumbles into traffic and gets hit, or gets into someone else’s house and does get shot – no one will be able to say I kicked him out when he was “obviously dangerously drunk”. Because he’s not staying in my house, and he’s obviously drunk enough to wander into someone else’s house without realizing what he’s doing.

    Yes, it’s passing the responsibility to someone else, but a) it’s responsibility I neither wanted or willingly accepted, and b) as lawsuit happy as people are today, it would be recklessness on my part to take that risk (and even more so for someone who has a family to take care of).

  15. “Oh come on now. You can go with your gut instinct. People do stupid stuff when they are drunk. I would have determined him to be no threat to me or anyone else, and gone back to bed. Locking the bedroom door of course. No need to cover him with a shotgun while I called the police, that’s just getting ridiculous.”
    Christopher Penta

    Christopher, you’re correct. People DO do stupid stuff when they’re drunk. Including becoming vilently enraged when awakened.

    Sometimes, they just LOOK drunk, but are under the influence of something else.

    Look, we’re NOT talking about, “Oh, look, it’s Bobby — I guess his wife threw him out for coming home drunk again, and he remembered where the spare key is.”

    This is a STRANGER. IN MY HOME. AT NIGHT. I have no way to know WHY he is here or WHAT his mental state, intentions, or capabilities are. Onus is on HIM. As far as I’m concerned, he is an unlawful intruder and threat to my safety and that of my family and guests until HE proves otherwise.

  16. Cuff his right hand to his left foot, roll him onto his side so he won’t aspirate if it’s a medical condition / pukey drunk, and call 911. Explain that he is breathing, and is restrained, as I have no way of knowing exactly -why- he passed out. Request an officer and an EMS team to my address, to handle either contingency.

    If he came in to sleep off his drunk / condition, and gained access through an open or unlocked door, then it’s somewhat my fault he gained entrance. Have him escorted from the property with a warning that future uninvited entrances will be prosecuted as trespass. If he broke something, jimmied a lock, or opened a window, then trespassing charge. And if he’s got anything of mine in his pockets, it’s a burglary charge.

    Assuming all goes well, I was a dumbass and left a door unlocked, Joe Dirt on the couch is just a neighborhood kid who got too drunk to see and found an opportunity, and nothing’s missing, then Joe Dirt and I might even part on good terms, with an admonishment of “You do realize that if I’d caught you while you were coming in, not after you passed out, you’d probably be dead, you know that, right?” and a future recommendation of knocking on the front door before trying the handle next time. Otherwise, the admonishment would be given a bit more sternly, with no “next time, etc” advice.

    The SIK in the story, um… as I don’t know him, don’t have his experiences, and was not there, I cannot judge if he acted wisely or foolishly. Personally, I lean toward “foolish,” as has been pointed out, Drunky McDrunkerson could have woken up after they went back to sleep, and committed nefarious deeds. But, like I said, the SIK is not actually someone -I- know, and I wasn’t there. Mitigating circumstances unknown to any of us could have existed. All we do know is that the situation was resolved in good faith, and in the best manner possible, no matter the wisdom involved in achieving that end result.

    It IS a very good “what would I do if I was him” situation, though. Boondoggling over these sorts of things, I think, is an excellent mental exercise; it gets one accustomed to thinking out, “gaming” situations. While real life won’t be like the “gamed situations,” the boondoggles can give you an excellent starting point, a basic plan, if you will, to modify as needed.

    This one’s a very good boondoggling situation, as this sort of thing has happened quite a few times, to quite a few people. Depending on the neighbors/neighborhood, I’d say this is probably one of the more likely situations we could find ourselves in; certainly it’s more likely than the “I just happened to be in the Stop-And-Rob at exactly the right time to stop the robbery,” or any other out-and-about shots-fired possibility. How many of us carry at home? If not, why not? We carry while we’re in-town, travelling, etc, but where do we keep our valuables? Where are we at our most vulnerable? To get into a bad situation away from home requires timing and location; at home, the location is fixed, and it just becomes a matter of “when,” not “where.”

    And now I’m rambling a bit, so it’s time for me to quit typing.


  17. What would YOU do?

    It depends on whether you live in, say, Cleveland or Mayberry.

    I live in a urban place, so I would call the EMS/911. Mostly because I don’t want him choking if he pukes.

    Afterwards I’d do an after-action-report with the family to see how this could happen. (bad door lock?)

    +1 to Christopher Penta, we’re not living in a warzone. A passed-OUT person (drunk or otherwise) is a non-threat. A drunk stumbling in my direction, maybe… A drunk waking up in a strange place? Probably Harmless.

    Sure there is an off-hand chance he might become violent, but that’s why I carry a gun anyway. There is an off-hand chance that someone somewhere will become violent. I don’t go into Condition Red every time somebody I’m not on a first name basis with does something unexpected.

    Everyone is a “potential” threat, just like everyone is a “potential” terrorist.

    Realistically, I see it as “No one is a threat until they’ve shown themselves to be dangerous.”

    Looks like SIK did exactly the right thing to do.

  18. Clint, Christopher:

    You seem to presume that by having a gun and isolating the known good guys from the TOTAL STRANGER WHO BROKE IN TO YOUR HOUSE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT somehow means I’ll be standing over him, with bayonetted rifle at en garde.

    Nope — but I will not leave myself and my family defenceless if it turns out he isn’t just a happy drunk who managed to BREAK INTO MY HOUSE AND MAKE HIMSELF AT HOME IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.

    HE is the lawbreaker, the invader. Generally speaking, strangers who invade your home at 3 am aren’t there to give you a Publisher’s Sweepstakes check. It is HIS responsibility to prove he is no threat. If I can try to rouse him without exposing the innocent people in the house to risk, I shall. The only acceptable responses are for him to either vacate the premises most rikki-tik, prefrrably with profuse apologies thrown over his shoulder, or for him to convince me he has a real emergency that justifies his breaking and entering under cover of darkness under the doctrine of “necessity”. ANY other response gets him either shot (if he attacks before the cops get there) or dealt with by the cops (if he just stays put).

    Because it is MY house — he doesn’t belong there, has NO right to be there, and, frankly, is so very unlikely to even have a justification for his presense that he is, by default, a threat. He is already violating my rights — am i to merely assume that this total stranger didn’t mean to, and isn’t going to go further?

    If it was a naked man who slipped into your daughter’s solo apartment, should she just roll over and figure she’ll ask about it in the morning? If not, why not? After all, maybe he just got confused, and mistook her apartment for his girlfriend’s. He hasn’t PROVEN he’s a threat. He hasn’t ACTUALLY physically assaulted her.

    Live in Condition White all you want — but this situation is a Condition Orange one, and I’ll treat it as such.

  19. In all honesty, I’d probably try and dump him on the front porch, and triple check the locks. No reason to call the cops if he’s passed out and not harming anyone. No way I’d be comfortable going back to bed with him out there.

Comments are closed.