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A stranger walked into my home using a key.

Updated: May 22, 2020

NOTE: This post was originally published on December 21, 2018. On May 7, 2020, my re-designed website went live, simultaneously re-publishing all of my old blog posts.

Allow me to set the scene: You are sound asleep on a Wednesday night like any other when you feel your partner stir. You’re usually the one waking up in the middle might. You start to wake as you hear your partner ask aloud in a sleepy, concerned voice, “Who are you?” Your eyes blink awake and slowly adjust to your surroundings. The bedroom door, which is usually kept closed so that the cat won't attack your feet in the middle of the night, is now open. Your eyes finally focus on what appears to be the silhouette of a man. But… it can’t be? Except, it is. I… live here… who …are you?” the back-lit figure responds in a slur of too many drinks consumed. You half sit up in bed, rubbing your eyes and clutching the blankets to cover yourself. You haven’t worn pyjamas to bed for years. Your partner is in the same situation, so he explains as calmly as possible that the man does not, in fact, live here. You second this, somehow remaining calm even though it is impossible to tell what this man’s intentions are. Then, the million dollar question: “How did you get in here?” The faceless figure responds, “… with my key…?”

“Your KEY??” The man stumbles away from the door and you urge your partner to dress quickly and follow him. He grabs a towel while you scramble for your robe and follow this fellow into your living room. You take quick note of his appearance: Middle-aged white male. Bald. Glasses. He’s by the door when you realize your wallet, laptop and countless other valuables are lying around in full view. If he wanted to rob you, he could have done so easily without even waking you.

Calmly and in total disbelief, you ask more questions. Eyes fixed on his face, looking for signs of a lie. He slowly, drunkenly, puts his shoes and coat back on while he answers. "What is your name?"


“How long ago did you live here, Brian?” “Yesterday….”

“That’s impossible... What is your address?” Brian gives his address and you realize that he lives exactly one block over. All of the blocks in your stacked condo/townhouse neighbourhood look the same. It’s an honest mistake. He’s walked into the wrong unit…. but still … how?? “Brian, can we see the key you used?” Your partner, who is standing between you, takes Brian’s keys which were willingly handed over. He removes the key in question and returns the rest. You tell Brian you’re keeping the key, and that if he can’t get into his house, to come back for it. Brian does not return. The keys are almost an exact match.

Despite the shock and the circumstances, you do not feel as though you are in any immediate danger. It’s just after 3 am. Calls are placed to property management, there’s nothing can be done at this time of night. Your partner works in the morning, so you try to sleep. The image of the man’s silhouette in your bedroom doorway takes the longest to dissipate… The next day more calls are placed. You are assured that this matter is being looked into, but you can tell that it is not. The title of this article is the same we used to title the emails we sent and still it took over 12 hours to get a response... The kind officer who takes your report over the phone assures that he doesn’t believe there was any malicious intent and promises to investigate as well, though there’s not much to go off of. You ask if an officer can simply knock on what you alledge is Brian’s door and confirm that he, in fact, lives there. If nothing but to have some peace of mind knowing that this was just a mistake, nevermind the key. The officer explains that there he doesn’t have enough information to confirm that that is where Brian lives since he never gave his unit number. “Besides,” he tells you, “people get really frightened when an officer in uniform knocks on their door. They assume the worst before you can even open your mouth.” You know what else scares people?” you say, sarcastically.

The next morning, the lock on your door is changed. The locksmith assures that you that he has made the key as different from the old one as possible.


As I sit here, supposedly safe and sound once again, I fall back into my own body and realize that this didn’t happen to you. It happened to me. To us. While we await confirmation of the man’s true identity, I find myself flooding with thoughts. Reflecting in disbelief at how lucky are we that this man did not intend to harm us. But what if he did? I’m actually quite impressed by how calm we managed to stay while this stranger was in our home — how did we manage that?? Some thoughts terrify me: What if I were home alone? How would I have reacted had my partner not been with me, always between me and this strange man? We made it through this traumatic experience together and are finally starting to laugh about the utter ridiculousness of it. And despite all of this, we refuse to start wearing pyjamas to bed.

*Name has been changed, though I don’t know what good that serves…

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