Taking care of your yard, planting flowers, having a nice presentation leading up to your front door says two things: (1) we probably have a few nice things in there, and (2) we also probably have an alarm system. Plus we have two big dogs who bark like third-act Cujo whenever anything comes within 20 feet of the house.
And yet, Security has been failing. Yesterday a whole bunch of things that seemed secure were proved not to be so much. Family members from far away, two of them from entirely different constellations called me to tell me how their lives had suddenly come apart, and they needed my help.
Last week we were having a quiet Friday night watching TV in our very quiet family neighborhood when a group of people started yelling at each other outside in the street. This was unprecedented, aside from a heated debate or two about which dog park is better, or if the trip to Trader Joe’s is really worth it. Getting up to look out and see what all the fuss was, I saw a man bolting hard toward my house. I instinctively ran to the front door to make sure it was locked, when he slammed against it hard and tried to come in. I fought with him for ten long seconds and got the door closed and bolted. He ran off down the street and rounded the corner. There’s a long story that goes with this that took the rest of the night to unfold – 911 calls, police reports, and an impromptu neighborhood association meeting in bare feet on the sidewalk under streetlights. A bad apple. One house. A long history of drugs. Do I want to press charges?
Yesterday, a week after that business and after a long day of distant family insecurity business, evening settles in and it’s time to water the front flowers. As I contemplate my modest good fortunes and recalibrate my attitude, I notice that one of the cheap little solar sidewalk lights is knocked over. Then I notice there are two of them where there were once four. Then I notice that the metal stakes – metal tubes about 8 inches long with a 3/4 inch diameter, have all been removed. What the frankfurter?
This is the sort of business – the sort of just-odd-enough, disconnected, beginning of a mystery that can never be quite solved – that are the proverbial splinter in the eye of the brain. Let’s say you’re this person who, while we were at work, and in broad daylight, across from a very active church and daycare center, chose to walk 20 feet up the sidewalk of a modest house, past the bushes and under the Spruce tree. At this point you are in full view of our ADT Security sign, and two giant dogs have begun barking their freaking heads off through the plate glass window, jumping and pawing at it like wild rumpus beasts. Children across the street, screaming their fool heads off in the playground. Cars driving by slowly on their way to here and there.
Still, you look down at the strip of flowers in front of our little house that for some reason you’ve chosen to approach, notice cheap little solar lights gleaming in the dirt between the flowers, and you think, “Hey I need some metal tubes and THERE ARE SOME RIGHT HERE!” And while the children scream and the dogs bark and the daylight breaks through the Spruce which may or may not be concealing a yard security camera powered by the company whose sign we’ve planted in the yard not five feet from where you currently stand, you pull up the cheap little lights from between full-blooming Sage, Salvia, and Lavender, throw the little lights on the ground, and walk off with four very low quality metal tubes.
There’s no way to think about this event without concluding whoever performed the act was not doing it for the first time. They have stolen other crappy metal tubes from other well-protected front yards. They aren’t collecting cheap solar yard lights for a massive art installation that they can’t afford to otherwise produce. They aren’t building a home-made runway for their private jet. They need metal tubes, and they simply can’t afford to jog over to Ace and pick up a dozen of them for thirty-nine-cents each. The only conclusion, after the splinter has had time to worm its way further into your brain, is drugs. Children would have taken the LED lights, which are the cool part. Drug addicts, petty thieves, have taken our tubes and made some sort of special thing out of them. Because.
And a guy ran up to our house in the calm light of a summer evening and slammed his full body weight against the front door after looking me in the eye through the window. Then he kept pushing and pushing when the door pushed back. And the dogs barked ferociously, smearing the plate glass with streams of gooey dog drool. And dad called to say his heart was suddenly failing and surgery is tomorrow. And the little girl on the playground kept screaming as loudly as she could for no reason other than she’s discovered she could make some unholy noise and nobody would stop her until the recess bell rang again. And sister called from her car, desperate on the road away from her soon-to-be former husband, asking for advice and money for a hotel. And the ten-dollar-a dozen Ebay solar lights stuck into the back yard around the flagstones slowly brightened while the sun set on a weird day in my quiet little first-world corner of the universe.
Security is just a word.