Your usual installment of Satire Fridays will return next week (also known as next year). Due to the pressing immediacy of current events, today I will report on an event of monumental importance (to me), which is likely of no interest to anyone else but is nonetheless very important (to me).
We returned from our lovely Christmas vacation two days ago and found our house as we had left it. Actually, it was apparently better than we had left it, because while we were gone, elves had apparently come into our house and cleaned everything up (Okay, they were paid elves, otherwise known as our cleaning service).
It wasn’t until the next morning that we realized something was wrong. My wife has a lot of earrings. They probably number well over 100. You’d think someone could take, say, 10 or 15 of them, and no one would notice the difference. But notice, she did. Then she began to look through her jewelry boxes, and she noticed even more things gone: the cross her grandmother had worn at her confirmation; her other grandma’s wedding ring; even the gold setting from her own wedding ring, which she had replaced a year or so ago. Someone had been in our house; someone had stolen her things.
Initially we were merely stunned. Then we began to form theories about what had happened. We began to suspect our cleaning service — instead of benevolent elves, they suddenly seemed like conniving thieves. Did they really think we wouldn’t notice? If it wasn’t the cleaning service, how did the burglars get in? The doors had all been deadbolted when we came home, and none of the windows were broken. Then we heard from a neighbor that there had been several break-ins while we were out of town. Now we knew it wasn’t the cleaning service. I felt guilty for suspecting them. But how did the thieves get in?
We called the police, and a young officer soon showed up at the door. “They just took jewelry, didn’t they?” he asked, not waiting for an answer. Within a minute, he had found the entry point: the kitchen window. He showed us how the lock was easily broken with a screwdriver, then carefully closed when the burglars left.
“Do you have a coin jar? Someplace where you keep spare change? Did they take that?” I ran up to my bedroom. Sure enough, the 18-inch-tall Mason jar on my bedside table was empty. I hadn’t even noticed; it was probably half-full when we had left: at least $100 in coins there.
My 11-year-old daughter reported that her gold necklaces were stolen as well. The thieves had thought to go into a child’s room and search through her jewelry boxes.
But, incongruously, my wife’s laptop was left alone, as were our stereo, our TV, and several valuable musical instruments. The police officer told us the thieves had left dozens of firearms in other homes, and showed no interest in electronics. “What about food?” he asked. Food? Apparently the thieves had eaten a half-box of Oreos in one house, and a can of beef stew from one victim’s house was left in another victim’s back yard. I wouldn’t have known if anything was missing. Shoot, I could barely remember what jewelry my wife owned.
I’ve since heard that over 30 homes in our town have been burglarized. The police department doesn’t know what to do — it’s the worst crime spree any of them can remember. They believe the perpetrator is someone local, operating on foot — maybe a 14-year-old kid. Homes have been hit while families went out to dinner, gone only an hour or so. One home was robbed while its alarm sang out for 15 minutes.
A CSI (yes, that’s really what they call them) was sent to our home and dusted the window for fingerprints. He was elated to find even a gloveprint: that’s more than he’d found anywhere else. (If you’re ever in a situation where you have to cleanup after a CSI, make sure you have lots of Formula 409 and plenty of paper towels: the graphite they use to find prints creates a sickening muck when it gets wet.)
I know things could be a lot worse: our house could have been ransacked; more precious possessions could have been stolen. Heck, compared to what people in Indonesia are going through right now, this isn’t even a blip on the radar. But getting robbed doesn’t feel good. It will take a while for any of us to feel safe now. Now I wonder what the point of locking doors and windows is, anyway. Should I bother to fix the broken lock on my window? Should I install a burglar alarm? Buy a gun?
I don’t know. On the one hand, this is a tragedy. But on the other, my life isn’t going to change. Our house probably won’t be hit again, at least by these guys. Things could be much worse. I guess I’ll just go on the way I did before, and try to forget things. I’m not sure what else I can do.