Monday, December 13, 2010

Casing the Joint

Just before Thanksgiving someone relieved our neighbor of her central air conditioning unit. More specifically, they ransacked the a/c unit, leaving the carcass strewn about her back yard. It was a mess. "Thousands of dollars in damage for twenty bucks' worth of scrap metal," that's what the cop told her. They do this for the scrap metal they can cut out of the thing. It goes without saying that she was finding it difficult to get into the holiday spirit when I talked with her that Thursday morning.

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it countless times more: “People. They’re the worst.”

Last night Jay discovered a bag of trash that was not ours in our recycling bin. We aren’t the neatest family, but we do know what trash is ours. This wasn’t. Opening the bag revealed standard poor-folks trash: quickie-mart trash, smokeless tobacco package, small cardboard cartons of some kind of milk or juice. The kind of junk you accumulate if you don’t cook much and/or don’t have much money.

The disheartening thing was that our recycling bin wasn’t on the curb. It was tucked beside our a/c unit, which is beside our garage door, in a secluded little corner in our driveway. When we had our roof redone, this is the corner, we later realized, that the roofers used as a bathroom.

So, of course, we put it together, ran through some scenarios, and our hackles were, and are, up. Someone may be scoping our house. Maybe they brought the trash over so they looked more legit as they checked out our a/c unit. Sure, they could’ve just needed a place to ditch their trash bag, but why in our bin, when it’s not readily visible?

So tonight I looked out the back door and noticed some fresh tracks in the snow leading from the sidewalk, straight through the back yard, around the end of the driveway, over to the corner of the neighbor’s house, and then down to our driveway. Big man-sized tracks, so they don’t belong to any of the neighbor kids. They were quick tracks, with no detours, but no purpose either, which is the most disturbing thing. They don’t belong to any of our neighbors or their kids. Weird.

People. They’re the worst.

Earlier today I spoke with the local police officer in charge of our area—about the trash incident—and he confirmed that it sounded odd. So now, with tracks through the yard, I have a rash of emotions—a lot of anger, and a little trepidation. It could all be coincidental, and not easily explainable, and just plain random. Or it could mean that someone would like to help themselves to something we own.

Going into the Christmas season, this may be the perfect challenge to my general belief in the goodness of humanity. When I play possible robbery scenarios in my head, none of them involve any kind of compassion or forgiveness on my part. Mostly I just unleash, with “great vengeance and furious anger,” in the words of Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) in Pulp Fiction, who was quoting the Bible, ironically.

The home is one’s castle. At this time of year, it’s usually a joyous castle. It’s a shame to want to keep the lights on not out of festive spirit, but rather to discourage thieving shitheads.

I really wanted to write about how I saw a coyote tonight. It crossed Westwood Northern Boulevard in front of my car, and for that split second, I had that sense-of-a-moment, part delight, part sadness, that you get when your sphere collides with that of an animal who deserves more nature than what it has.

But instead, the tracks I focus on are the ones that are much closer, still, to home, where we apparently live in contested territory, too. May the thieving shitheads not win.

No comments: