Thursday, June 25, 2009

Giving up a little to gain a lot

While I don’t have a lot of personal experience, thankfully, with crime, I have had a few incidents occur in years past that you might benefit from knowing about. Here’s one.

Way back in 1986, on New Year’s Eve, I was returning home from someplace lost in the recesses of my memory. It was an hour or two before 1987 was to begin and my car suddenly went dead, totally kaput. At the time the road it died on was a somewhat lonely two-lane highway on the outskirts of the city. (Now, it’s a major six-lane artery surrounded by thousands of homes and lined with dozens of businesses, but I digress.) With the remaining momentum of the car, I pulled off to a side road, locked the car, and footed it to a 7-11 store about a half-mile away. From there I called my dad, who came to pick me up and we drove to take a look at the car. Neither of us could figure out what was wrong with it, so we decided to wait until morning to fiddle around on it. My dad asked me if I wanted to tow it back to the house, but I said, “No, it’ll be okay here until morning.” (You, no doubt, see where this is going.)

The next morning my brother drove me to my car and I found it not quite in the condition I left it. The car’s windshield was broken, its mirrors were ripped off, the instrument panel was covering cracked, a side window was smashed, and the turn signal lever broken off. The culprit(s) was apparently trying to get at my radio/tape player, but was thwarted by a clever (I thought) trick I employed when I installed the player a few years earlier (I keep my cars for a looong time). What was this trick? A short, stout piece of electrical wire tied to the back of the player and through two small holes I drilled into the firewall, rendering the unit practically impossible for a smash-and-grab thief to lift. Unfortunately, it also had the unintended consequence of infuriating the would-be filcher who, I am certain, took out his frustration on my car. The radio was saved, but at a price of more than five times its value when compared to the damage done to my car.

When I got my car back from the repair shop, the first thing I did was to untie and remove the wire. I didn’t want lightning to strike twice; I’ve learned my lessons. What were those lessons?

1. Be aware that crime can happen at anytime, practically anywhere, and that you are not immune.
2. Make value judgments as to what you are willing to lose; in other words, leave easily-taken fall-guy items for the low-lifes.
3. Listen to and follow through with good advice about preventing crime. (Had I listened to my dad, this could have been avoided, and my net worth would be about $500 more, or greater with interest, today).
4. Crime, and criminals, suck.

I hope this helps you, or someone you know, from repeating my mistakes.*

Take care.

*I realize that macho wisdom says to he*l with giving any kind of quarter or reward to criminals, but I have the distinct impression that those who say this are too imbued with Hollywood's scripted versions of how encounters will go down to see reason. Sure, there are things worth defending, but inanimate objects are not usually among them. Giving up a small thing to protect the bigger, more valuable thing doesn't make one a loser, but a winner. You were able to put one over on a predator; that should be cause for celebration.

1 comment:

The Other Mike S. said...

In a class I teach, one of the optional actions a person can take is, "submit". I tell them that this should only be considered, IMO, regarding property. No life is worth the cash in your pocket.

If it is a rapist, DO NOT follow that old pablum of, "It won't be so bad, and you'll be alive." Bull.

You are exactly right about the Hollywood image. The job description of most predators is to "beat if necessary". They generally know what they're doing, and get a good deal of practice. Unless you're a regular live-action fighter, think twice about mixing it up if you can.

And in free states, you can shoot 'em, too....