Bill’s nine-year-old son was always talking about his friend Greg. And this was pretty much all Bill knew about his son’s classmate.
Until he noticed something unusual about Greg after a sleepover party. One morning, Greg offered to make everyone breakfast.
“He was nine,” says Bill. “And he cooked breakfast for us. I mean, what kind of nine-year-old knows how to make breakfast?”
This led Bill to ask his son about Greg’s home life. Bill’s son, in the tradition of all well-spoken, socially sensitive, acutely aware American nine-year-olds answered, “Can I have some new Pokémon cards, Dad?”
So Bill asked around at school, trying his best not to come off sounding like a nosy member of the KGB. He even offered Greg a ride home in hopes of learning more about the kid. But Greg declined because he said he usually rode the bus and besides, he too had a lot of important Pokémon cards to trade.
“So,” Bill says, “I staked out the kid’s house.”
Which, I want to point out, is absolutely normal for a middle-aged suburban male
like Bill to do. In terms of normalcy, conducting unauthorized surveillance on strangers’ homes is right up there with weekend basketball at the YMCA.
Bill parked across the street and watched from his minivan. There were no cars at the house, nobody was coming or going. He suspected Greg was living alone.
But as it happened, Bill—who has a long track record of this—was wrong. He learned this when he used a more direct approach. Namely, he asked Greg some questions.
“Greg,” he said, “do you live alone?”
“Nope,” Greg said.
Greg explained that his father worked night shifts and slept during the daytime. And he worked three jobs.
Bill asked, “But how does your father drive to work? There are no cars at your house.”
“A van comes to get him,” said Greg.
A van? Well. It…