There was this little old lady who lived with her family in a rambling big house. One night the rest of the family had gone out, leaving her alone and most of the house in darkness.
During the night, she heard a strange noise, and got up to investigate. In the darkness, she made her way down the stairway.
Near the bottom of the stairs she reached out for the bannister. Instead, she felt a human head!
She thought quickly.
"My! That careless maid has left the mop out again!" she exclaimed.
Then she walked calmly but quickly to the front door, rushed outside and screamed for help. The neighbours, as well as a patrol car passing by, acted somewhat quicker than the burglar.
True story or urban legend?
The clue lies in the mop.
One American version of the story has the little old lady living alone. When she feels the head, she scolds herself for being careless with the mop. In South Africa, that element is altered to reflect the more commonplace use of maids in most middle-class homes.
Either way, it reflects the extent to which criminals underestimate their victims in the land of urban legends.