Archive for February 21st, 2018

February 21, 2018

Umm. I kinda think that’s stealing

by Janie Jones

So, I go outside this morning to walk the dog and as I leave I notice foot prints in the snow coming from the neighbor’s front yard up to the side of my house.

This sets my spidey sense tingling.  Why would someone walk through the neighbor’s yard and up to the side of my house.  Peeping tom?

Then I remember that yesterday the neighbor was out front working on his ten-thousand year old blazer.  It occurs to me that he might have been using my electricity for jumping, or whatever, his truck.

Now, it’s just a little electricity.  And, I know the neighbors are feeling some hard times.  So, part of me thinks I should just let it go.  But then, there’s the principle of the thing.  It is basically stealing to take something from some one without permission.  Despite my propensity to be forgiving, I also don’t want to give the impression that they can just take whatever they want of mine whenever.

These neighbors, let’s call them the Smiths.  As it happens, the Smiths are kind of your stereotypical white trash (can I say that or does that make me some sort of bigot/racist/non-politically correct asshole?).  Some of my friends who have a clue say they smell various illicit substances wafting from the Smith’s dilapidated house.  Frequently Mrs. Smith can be heard hollering at Mr. Smith, or the Smith step-children of late adolescent/early adulthood years, using language so colorful a sailor would blush.  Not less than three times emergency services has been to the Smith residence since last fall, and I have seen Mrs. Smith carted off in an ambulance twice.  Also, last fall Mr. Smith was often to be found burning trash in their yard (this is within city limits and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to burn trash as well as the aforementioned illicit substances).  And then there’s the young people of not so favorable appearance who wander up and down the alley to the Smith’s place at strange times of night and day leaving  me to wonder what type of business they garner their meager income from or, how they squander their welfare dollars.

Any way, up until last Thanksgiving Mr. Smith was very friendly and regardless of the hinky-ness I have just described I was prepared to be understanding as long as they kept to their property and I to mine.  Then, just before the holiday he sold Leif an old wood stove.  I guess then he figured he could come and try and sell off other items to make some quick cash, as he came around twice more peddling various things.  Again, to be neighborly and helpful to a less fortunate individual, I bought some nice army surplus gloves off of him, but that was it.

After I made it clear I wasn’t interested in buying anything else, the week before Thanksgiving he shows up begging to use my internet so he can access his unemployment benefits with this sad sack story about his miserable marriage, being laid off and being broke.  I did feel for the guy, so I agreed to let him have a guest pass code to my internet until Christmas.  I laid out terms that his access would be limited to the hours I was at work and only Monday through Friday.  I reserved the right to revoke the pass code if I saw any other devices using it besides his iPhone.  I gave him a list of local places that gave free internet access and said, that come December 26th, the pass code would be reset.  This was my attempt to be helpful and neighborly, but I was not prepared to be his free internet provider indefinitely.  He offered to barter for the use of the internet, but I declined any sort of barter.  I told him it was my good deed and a way to pay forward kindnesses done for me when I was down on my luck.

Curiously, a few days after Thanksgiving, someone stole some change and a broken Amazon fire stick out of my car in my garage.  And, Mr. Smith hasn’t spoken to me since except one brief comment on the weather when I ran into him shoveling while I was walking the dog.  I have no proof, but my instincts tell me either Mr. Smith or one of the weirdos that come and go from the Smith residence was responsible for the theft.

I have had no real opportunity to bring the subject up even casually, but naturally as I had no proof I would never pointedly question Mr. Smith about it.  In general, I don’t think Mr. Smith is the worst of the problem, I think it’s Mrs. Smith, the step-children and wanderers-by who are the ones to really worry about.  And, in such cases with weirdos, it seems like the best policy to keep on cordial terms lest I become a target of more flagrant acts of theft, vandalism or antagonism.

So, now this thing happens with the electricity.  I have a timer on that outlet with lights.  It gets dark here early in the winter, and I am up early in the dark to walk the dog, so I have my holiday lights still come on at dusk and off at 10pm, then back on at 4am until dawn.  I feel it is the height of audacity to “borrow” someone’s electricity without permission and then on top of it to unplug their own cords to do it.  And, not only is it is audacious to do so, but in the winter here you leave a trail in the snow announcing to the world you were trespassing and using my electricity.  Does that not really strike anyone else as bold and inappropriate?

What do you think?  Should I be worried?