Changing My Perspective

 

clipart-kid

clipart-kid

Picture a perfect late-summer evening in Craig, Colorado, five years ago: flowers a-bloom, birds a-chirp, breezes a-stir. Harmless clouds cluster in the east; children bounce bicycles over curbs; and volunteer parents gather at Sunset Elementary to ready its outdoor areas for the coming school year.

Wanting to enjoy the pleasant evening, my husband and I decided to take an after-dinner walk. As we exited the gate to our driveway, Joel looked around and asked, “Where’s the car?”

We then reverted to form and assumed the other had done something unreasonable with it: “I don’t know. Where’d you park it?”

“In the driveway. Where’d you move it?”

“What are you talking about? I haven’t driven it since you came home.”

Then reality struck; and Joel expressed it: “If you’re not joking, the car’s been stolen.”

Denying any prank, I peered up and down the street as though our headstrong car had wandered off like a mischievous puppy and would soon come home. My husband displayed more decisiveness: “I’d better call 911.” That quickly we became embroiled in loss of property, police reports, insurance negotiations and a realization of our need — even fondness — for a reliable, comfortable car.

Three adult drug-users took it from our driveway while inside the house I started the dishwasher, exchanged flip-flops for walking shoes and rounded up Joel. As we walked through the yard discussing which border flowers might need transplanting, the thieves drove at high speed up the hill on Barclay toward 10th Street through quiet residential areas. While we paused at the gate and examined the Russian willow to see if we had arrested its aphid problem, our car bottomed out in an intersection, lurched out of control, and hit two parked trucks. As we discovered our loss, the three fled.

As we waited in the driveway for an officer to respond to Joel’s 911 call, a patrol car come around the corner, and we waved it over. When the officer said he’d be back after investigating a nearby accident, we realized our car might be involved. Joel, who carries data like the car’s year, model and license number in his head, waited for the officer, and I took the truck to look for the accident.

I found it. Our car sat sideways on Barkley street: crumpled at each end, air bags deployed, interior untouched and Joel’s golf bag squashed up against the back window. I drove home to report I’d found our car: wrecked, totaled, looking as abandoned as an old couch left curbside.

Not only does Joel act while I dither, his perceptions are fast, focused, and true compared to my foggy ruminations. His first response: “I hope nobody was hurt.”

I pictured young girls with bouncing hair skipping along a sidewalk; grinning boys flying down the hill on bicycles; a family on its way to a soccer game driving into the intersection as a missile launched across it. “Oh, I didn’t think of that.”

I’d never experienced what I knew: Some who live in Craig make bad decisions born of addiction, greed, anger, or disregard for the lives and property of others; and innocent parties suffer because of those decisions. I didn’t understand how quickly feelings of security and safety shatter, even when your loss is only a car and some golf clubs.

And I hadn’t thought that our replaceable loss could have been a tragedy. I gave thanks that it was not.

Advertisements

57 thoughts on “Changing My Perspective

  1. Oh my, Craig sounds such an lovely place, sadly there are bad persons every where. My neighbor had a beater car with no reverse or first gear, thieves pushed it from her yard, the cops found it miles away on a mountain side, she had to take a cab off to collect it. Luckily indeed, the car harmed no one. Valarie was rather sorry to have it back…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. WOW! That would certainly get your attention. The fact that no one was hurt (or were the perps injured?) is truly remarkable. Luckily you and Joel were not present to confront the thieves. That could have been very dangerous. Evil does exist in the world around us, but so does good.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good does exist, Troy, and I persist in believing that good folks are in the majority. The thieves — two brothers and the girlfriend of one were quickly caught. The brothers, who had long records of assault, thievery, possession, etc., went to prison. The girlfriend who had two children was given probation, community service, and a fine so she could continue to raise her children. I think she has straightened her life up a bit. The brothers have been up for probation, but it has been denied.

      Like

    • Into two inanimate objects, Shelley, a truck parked on the right and a truck parked on the left; both suffered serious damage. I don’t know if they were totaled or not. Witnesses said our car was flying when it topped the hill, went through the stop sign and bottomed out in the intersection before spinning out of control. It could have been so terrible.

      Like

    • Insurance did cover our car, and we got a nice replacement. But Joel’s beloved new golf clubs were not covered. It only took me about one minute to convince him it was OK to buy two new sets of clubs in the same calendar year, since he hadn’t bought any since 1985.

      Like

  3. I was like Shelley….thought this was going to be about how I constantly “lose stuff” and then reality: NOPE! Someone actually stole your car. Bummer. I love your: “we reverted to form and assumed the OTHER had misplaced it!” I do that on a regular basis. Joel’s like my Princess. I would have been standing there saying, “Cazzo! What the hell do we do now? I have errands to do today!” 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s good that no one was hurt. Hopefully, your insurance covered your loss adequately. Once I got to the point where there weren’t tragic injuries, golf clubs not withstanding, I wonder about the ordinary things – did you have to pay for the damage to the trucks, did anyone see the carnage, were the people ever arrested, charged, helped away from their problems?

    In any case, it must have been frightening once you realized what happened.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was scary, Dan. It briefly rocked my feelings of safety and security in my home and community; but it didn’t take long to subside. We weren’t liable for the trucks, and, luckily, both of them were insured. Our big worry was that our insurance wouldn’t pay because Joel left the keys in the car, but they told us right away that was not an issue. There were several witnesses; people were outdoors because of the loveliness of the day, so several were able to point the police in the direction the miscreants ran. Because of previous records, the two men went to prison, the woman was given community service, probation, weekly drug testing, and fines, but was allowed to continue her job and to raise her two children. I think she is doing well. (Did you appreciate how subtly I let you know I was not responsible for the keys being in the car?)

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I had a car stolen. Kids took it for a joyride and left it totaled and abandoned in an orange grove. I remember the first few minutes when I realized it wasn’t where I’d parked it. That’s one of the strangest feelings I’ve ever had. I was all for reviving the time-honored tradition of hanging the perps as horse thieves.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It was the strangest feeling; we were both unable to accept that it was gone at first. I remember looking up and down the street like maybe it had run away. I thought we should delay calling 911 in case a neighbor had borrowed it, but, as I wrote, Joel is much more decisive than I and ruled the moment.

      Liked by 2 people

      • 😦 I don’t know about Craig, but really the San Luis Valley is one of the most impoverished areas of the United States. I think that feeling of hopelessness contributes to the drug problem.

        Like

      • You’re right, Martha. Craig has been a strong blue-collar community with people making good wages in three coal mines and a coal-fueled power plant, but the coal mines are struggling, workers are being laid off, houses stand vacant, and people see the end of the way of life they’ve enjoyed.A feeling of hopelessness is beginning to grow here as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • A lot of farms survived the recession by going fancy, but the trains are gone and my town has no real stores, well, one kind of real store, Big R and it’s doing OK.You go down my main street and you see the building that was Woolworths, the one that was Penny’s — those jobs are gone. I wish I had a magic wand or millions of dollars or something, but I have learned how important it is to 3999 other people that I bought a house here, that I walk my dogs, that I answer the door for Halloween. In my town I’m a famous author. Everyone knows me by my white hair and my big black and white dogs. I’ve learned how important an individual can be just by BEING and standing one’s ground. I have a lot of company and they bring friends and so it all is something. Last year I had 5 guests for the Crane Festival. The year before, 2. I think that’s how it goes in a place like this right now. Everything you do is actually doing something.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I know that by choosing to be where you are, to be happily there, you give a gift you give your fellow residents and that they appreciate it. I feel I send the same gift to my beleaguered town when I publish my columns every other Friday in the local paper. In them, I frequently mention my love of where I live, my intent to live out my life in Craig, and the specific things about Craig I enjoy, which range from the water tasting good to our well maintained and used city parks to people who smile and make eye contact when I meet them. If I ever decide to do less writing, my newspaper columns will be the last thing I give up.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ❤ Absolutely true. I learned yesterday that my local bookstore (18 miles away) had my book in the window. A neighbor bought it. How cool to write a column in your local paper — I'd love to do that. Hmmmmm….

        Like

      • Oh, Martha, I think you should. I think it would just be a matter of telling any newspaper in your broader area that you’re willing and showing them a sample column.The pay, if any, isn’t great, but the rewards are many.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The blog posts you wrote about your move, buying your house, your dogs, your art, your new community, the beauty of the area you now call home could all be newspaper columns for a local paper, Martha. And so many more of your bits of writing would be appropriate. Many of my blog posts started life as newspaper columns.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. My first thought was that I’m glad no one was hurt.But it does stir up feelings of anger that people can actually do this. I hope the three culprits have been caught and will be punished. There is far too much of this in every neighborhood. I miss the days when no one thought of locking doors or cars.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The culprits ran away and were caught near the elementary school I mentioned in the piece, Kayti. They were punished adequately in my mind: Two are in prison with sentences of 8 to 15 years and the young woman was given community service, probation, weekly drug testing, and fines, but was allowed to continue her job and to raise her two children. I think she is doing well.

      Like

  7. Your husband’s thoughts about whether anyone could have been hurt, are like some of the things mine comes out with, too. It’s the sort heart in them, don’t you think? As for me – I’m like you in that my mind’s slower but as well as that I’m usually off somewhere else much of the time. As for the realization of what had happened – it’s the sudden change in routine and expectations that does that, as well as the actual event. We had a robbery at our last house – the thief took my (new) portable cd player/radio, some bottles of wine and my shopping bag. I was more shocked that he’d taken the shopping bag than the expensive music player as I couldn’t remember if there was anything personal I’d left in it. And what really shocked me most was that while the burglar was in the house, I’d been in the bathroom having just got up from bed. How quickly our calm realities can change to something else…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your experience sounds much like mine, Val, except more frightening. I felt so vulnerable and assaulted that in the late afternoon our car was stolen while we were in the house doing our thing. I can’t imagine how I would have felt had they actually come in the house. I do think my husband has a caring heart. I do too, but I’m more easily distracted from it than he is. I loved your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Janet, I’m embarrassed to say that my first thoughts probably would have been about the car, rather than whether or not people were hurt. Isn’t that awful? We should all be more like Joel.

    Once again, your writing made me feel as though I was there with you and Joel when you realized your car was actually stolen. I love the imagery of the car wandering off like a mischievous puppy that would soon come home—the perfect way to describe something that you can’t quite believe is really happening.

    As usual, your last line was thought-provoking. A replaceable loss versus a tragedy—puts things in perspective.

    Like

    • I always enjoy your thoughts, Rita, and especially your attentive eye for strong bits of writing. It’s a good feeling when you recognize something I put some work into. Thank you for the care with which you read.

      Like

  9. It’s been ages since I’ve been to Craig. I think I was still in elementary school, in fact. My dad had a friend who lived there who he went pheasant hunting with. It was just a dinky little town back then. To think there’s drug-related crime of any type there now is kind of shocking to me. I know it shouldn’t be but I just can’t help it.

    Like

    • It was a dinky little town, Glynis, mainly serving the outlying ranches, but it boomed in the seventies and eighties when an international company began to build a coal-fueled power plant on the outskirts of town and local coal mines opened or increased production, bringing many workers into the area. Then, when that calmed down, the oil fields in Wyoming and northwest Colorado fueled another boom. Now, coal threatened and oil prices down, workers are being laid off or transferring; so Craig’s economy is in a downturn again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Janet, this story of Craig’s slow downtturn makes me feel sad. I’m not a fan of coal but having you explain how lives and a vibrant little town have been affected helps me see the human side of my environmental concerns.

        Like

  10. It’s always wonderful reading your carefully executed life experiences. I’m so pleased no one was hurt. Being grateful for small mercies, as my mother would have said, still rings true! It’s good when couples compliment one another.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like your mother’s term, “small mercies.” It does ring true. What you said about couples also rings true: I am often grateful for Joel’s quick, decisive mind. Other times, I slow him down and help him consider a wider array of possibilities.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. While reading and re-reading this great post my thoughts are more about how quickly, in an instant, life circumstances can change….
    “On a perfect summer evening”…..”feelings of safety and security shatter”. I’m ever reminded how thoughtless (dumb) decisions by others can suddenly change our peaceful moments. I’m glad you quickly found equilibrium, a new car, appreciation for Joel’s good heart and yes, small mercies.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s