I pulled into the driveway after work last week and a young woman was on the sidewalk, apparently waiting for me.
She had already talked to my wife, she said, and Judy had told her to talk with me.
"I'm you neighbor," she said, extending her hand.
Probably 20, blonde, pleasant.
"I'm brushing up on my public speaking, I'm a senior at Sacramento State in journalism and I got an internship with the BBC," she said, smiling.
She was talking fast. Seemed nervous.
"Your wife says you are the editor of the paper," she said.
Yes, that's true, I said. Something, though, seemed a bit odd. Why had I never seen her around our Woodbridge neighborhood? Public speaking? The BBC?
Still, students sometimes ask if they can spend time in the newsroom, or want to talk about journalism careers (not the brightest topic these days) or ask if I will critique some writing.
I asked her if she knew a friend, who is an instructor in journalism at Sac State.
"Oh, no, but I will probably take a class with her sometime," she said.
Then I felt it. An instinctive pang. She was going to ask for something, and it wasn't going to be a critique or a tour of the newsroom.
"My parents said they'd pay half the trip for the BBC internship if I raise the other half," she said.
"So I am looking for neighbors to help me out. I'm selling these magazines," she said.
She slipped a tattered pamphlet out of her back pocket depicting a variety of magazines.
"Oh, and my dad said that, for everyone who helps, I need to come back this spring and pull their weeds."
Really? Going door to door to pay for an internship with the BBC? Going to pay back the neighbors by pulling weeds?
"I'll pass," I said.
"Ok, no problem," she said. "Do you know any neighbors who might be interested in helping."
She smiled and walked away.
The next day a neighbor friend reported that he gave the young woman a check after she told him the editor and his wife had contributed generously to her internship fund.
Maybe I owe this young woman an apology for thinking she is a scam artist. If she happens to read this, and is indeed a neighborhood resident and can show me some proof of her studies and internship I will indeed write her a check.
Much more likely, I suspect, a young grifter is at work in the area, so beware.
I recounted this story to Les Garcia, SJ sheriff's pio, who said my instincts are probably right. He's going to pass it on to Woodbridge community officers.
In the meantime, if I learn anything more, I will post it ASAP.