Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1998]
When they returned to their home, they found another note taped to the doorknocker of the home. The note read: "Hope you enjoyed the ballet! We missed the Mercedes!"
Upon opening the door to the lovely home they found it completely empty — grand piano, oriental rugs, dining room furniture, camel back sofas, wing chairs — all gone. A home without even a toothpick. They had been HAD.The police had to be called by using the car phone. All neighbors responding to this incident reported that they just thought the neighbors were scheduled to move. No one ever discusses their comings and goings around here. We are just decent people who mind our own business. The only thing we can say is that we all watched the big white truck named "Mercedes" being loaded carefully by an attractive, professional team of movers. They took their time to cover all the antiques carefully. There must have been
- Tickets left to lure the owners out of the house: ballet, opera, baseball, movie, theatre, symphony, rock concert, and sold out championship hockey game.
- Sometimes the emergency is specified by the borrowers (e.g., a job interview).
The thieves always succeed in their ruse, too. Everyone who lives in the house is lured out by the tickets. There's never an inconvenient relative who happens to be staying over, neither does the wife take her girlfriend to the opera, leaving hubby home that night cleaning his guns.
Central to the legend is the premise that once we "misjudge" a person we subsequently let down our guard too much towards him. Con men use this trick to earn a mark's trust, and this legend cautions us to watch out for this ploy. In this example, we're asked to see through the relief of getting the car back and the pink haze raised by the generosity of the borrower to recognize that nice people don't steal cars.
Here's a 1949 example of the legend, but without the motif of the stolen jalopy:
They enjoyed the show; but when they reached home, they found that all their wedding presents had been taken. A note from the burglar said: "Now you know."1
Sightings: This legend turns up in the 1997 film Shooting Fish. It also appears in an episode of the television sitcom The Nanny ("Fran Gets Mugged," original air date
Last updated: 25 May 2011
Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Choking Doberman. New York: W. W. Norton, 1984. 0-393-30321-7 (pp. 193-194). Dale, Rodney. The Tumour in the Whale. London: Duckworth, 1978. ISBN 0-7156-1314-6 (p. 129). de Vos, Gail. Tales, Rumors and Gossip. Englewood: Libraries Unlimited, 1996. ISBN 1-56308-190-3 (pp. 174-177). Hershfield, Harry. Laugh Louder Live Longer. New York: Gramercy Publishing Company, 1959. (pp. 162-163). Scott, Bill. Pelicans & Chihuahuas and Other Urban Legends. St. Lucia, Queensland: Univ. of Queensland, 1996. ISBN 0-7022-2774-9 (pp. 13-15, 35). Smith, Paul. The Book of Nastier Legends. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986. ISBN 0-7102-0573-2 (p. 57). 1. Fun Fare: A Treasury of Reader's Digest Wit and Humor. Pleasantville, NY; Reader's Digest Association Inc., 1949 (p. 192).
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