Monday, November 24, 2008

In which I temporarily turn in my Public Defender Badge to become a Crime Fighter

Yesterday afternoon, I was in my bathroom attending to my very-clogged bathtub. (Not relevant to the current post, but I did get the tub unclogged. Thoroughly unclogged. Made for a delightful shower this morning.) But I digress. I live on an alley with a detached garage. The window in the bathroom looks out on the garage and, because of the placement of windows, from that window, I can look out through the garage and to the alley beyond.

While I was futzing with my tub, I heard a car idling in the alley, right by my driveway. Why, I don't know, but I got curious so I looked out. I saw a man, unashamedly and in broad daylight, stealing my firewood! Back in June, a very large tree fell down on my driveway. In a stroke of good luck for me, it landed on a power line, so the power company came right out and hired tree-cutters to deal with it. They came out around midnight and had it all handled by 2 a.m. The nice tree-cutter folks cut the large tree up into logs just the right size for using in my patio fire bowl. We've used a couple of the logs, but it's a pretty big pile. Which this loser was methodically transferring from my property into his pick-up.

I ran through my house and out the back door. I'd like to tell you I had a really classic opening line that would make Dirty Harry proud, but the question that came automatically out of my mouth was, "What the fuck are you doing?" The guy just seemed surprised to receive any opposition to his thievery. He apologized, said he didn't know it belonged to anyone (how do you not realize that the stuff on someone else's property probably belongs to that someone else?), and said in his defense that he walks down that alley all the time and that wood's been there for over a year. Maybe I was just ticked, but I don't think his apology was very sincere. I think he felt pretty entitled to take that wood and was just more surprised to have been yelled at than truly sorry for anything.

I had some serious adrenaline going at this point. I was stopping a thief! I was confronting an interloper and defending my land! I'm pretty sure my nostril was flaring. There was probably a vein pulsing somewhere on my face. In what I can only hope was a stern, don't-mess-with-me-and-my-stuff tone, I informed him that it was most definitely my wood, that it had most definitely not been there for over a year, and that I most definitely intended to use MY wood at whatever leisurely pace I damn well chose.

Then, in my favorite part of the exchange, he asked, as if he was really wondering, "Do you want me to put it back?" Really? What part of my angry, curse-filled tirade made you think there was even a possibility that I would let you keep any of your ill-gotten gain? Because I'm gonna want to work on tightening up my tirades so that the next would-be thief who receives one doesn't get the impression that there is any room for negotiation.

He put it all back as I watched. As soon as he drove away, I started moving the pile to a spot between my house and garage, so it won't tempt any more cold slackers who want to warm themselves as cheaply as possible. I should have made him move the whole pile for me.

Ok, I know it's only firewood that cost me nothing. But it's the principle of the thing. This jerk trespassed on my land. Until just yesterday, I never really thought of myself as owning land. I bought a house, sure, but it didn't really hit me that I really am a land-owner, too. And I didn't tell this guy he could step one foot onto my land. He trespassed on my land with the express purpose of taking my stuff. What nerve. My car was right there, so he should have realized someone was probably home. How hard would it have been to knock on the door and ask the home-owner if s/he wanted him to haul that wood away? Not very. But he didn't want to ask for permission. He just saw something he wanted and decided to take it.

Until I made him stop. 'Cause, you know, I'm a badass crime fighter.


Language Lover said...

You go, girl!

We were just robbed yesterday by someone who took a lot of stuff that was sitting in our front driveway as an intermediate step in cleaning out the van and garage. Okay, I know leaving stuff out in your driveway is not the brightest thing to do, but c'mon!

I obviously need to take some crimefighting lessons from an expert.

Heather said...

I've had people come to my door and ask if they could take things that were obviously set out specifically for the trash man so I can't believe he saw your car there and not only didn't knock on your door, but then still asked you if you wanted it back when you came out and yelled at him! That's pretty bad! Good job, Wonder Woman! Now all you need is a magic crime fighting lasso...

S said...

I totally need a lasso! And some kicky boots. Well, I have those, I just needed to have been wearing them during my battle of good against evil.

Doesn't it just seem, LL, that stuff on your driveway ought to be considered off limits unless it is CLEARLY out with the garbage cans? And even then, it never hurts to ask when someone's home. Sorry your stuff was taken.

Dan said...

I was in the middle of painting my garage this fall, and left an alumnium ladder between my garage and our neighbors. Gone. They also took a nice board I was in the middle of cutting (I smartly moved my tools into the garage). I was using my recycling bins as sawhorses, so they may have assumed it was garbage.

I see them prowl the alleys, they just search for scrap and junk in their "junk trucks". In some areas, they hit recycling morning to get the alumnium cans before the city-contract trucks can pick it up. If there was a better arguement for a city to go to one-container recycling, this is it.

I left a bunch of old junk appliances out to trash a couple days early, and on the first night, the copper fitting on the old AC was sliced off. The second night the rest of the AC and the old VCR and car radio were gone. By the time garbage day came, all that was left was the old TV.

S said...

I have had thinks I put out as trash taken, but I don't mind that. I usually put that stuff out right on the alley so it's on display to anyone passing by. I've even been known to put signs on things, like the perfectly good DVD rack I just didn't want anymore.

Bummer about your ladder, Dan. I'm pretty sure that was just a straight up theft.

I guess I should be more careful about what I leave out on my driveway.

dmarks said...

The lowlife probably plundered someone else's yard.

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