punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

My thoughts on the Buddhist "Materialism cases misery" thing...

Having to worry about possessions sucks.

I got an e-mail from a friend of mine: his house has been robbed. Some skinny kid broke through their basement window and stole a lot of choice items. On another board a few weeks ago, some guy posted insurance pictures from his apartment which not only had been robbed, but the thieves had totally vandalized the place. And did stuff like rip apart what they didn't want, like put all of his books in boxes and poured water on them to ruin them. It was also, supposedly, an insider job with the apartment complex.

The closest I had even come to a burglary was when I was about 11. There was a rash of thefts in our neighborhood, but up until this point, it had only been bikes. About every two years, some ... group of people, I guess, would go through our neighborhood at night, and steal any bike, especially children's bikes, that wasn't chained down. One year they even brought bolt cutters so they could cut through chains. But I wasn't allowed to have a bike, so it only affected my friends. But this one year, there had been two thefts with the same MO.

We became number 3. A neighbor said that our basement door window had been smashed in, and our sliding glass door was open. Actually, they called the marina where my father had his yacht, and the marina owner wrote it on a note and stuck in on our windshield under the wiper. I found the note, and my parents called the neighbor who explained that it looked like a break-in. We drove right home.

When we got home, the place was a mess. All the closets had been opened, and everything had been dug through. My mother had a collection of purses she had been accumulating since the 1960s, and each one had been opened and thrown on the floor (they were empty anyway). My father's den door (which he kept locked), had been kicked in. My room was decimated, and all my toys were smashed, books were torn, and my bed was overturned. There was also a note that they were going to come back and kill me, and there was nothing I could to about it. In our rec room, near the sliding door, were piles of our smaller valuables; clock radios, silverware, telephones, and pillowcases they planned to put stuff in.

The police came and took down all the info, but right away my father got into an argument with the police officer about ... something, who knows. The detectives had a hard time working with my father because he didn't cooperate, and finally they left. The note I got was the clincher. My mother tried to dismiss my claim my room had been ransacked because it was always a mess anyway, but I handed the officer the note, and he said, "Yeah, it's them all right."

"Them," as far as they could figure, were two people who went through the house simultaneously and systematically, looking for anything of value that was fairly small. They also had a "vendetta" against children, would often ransack the rooms and destroy anything of value, leaving threatening notes under their pillows. Judging by the spaces they used to get in, they figured one was very thin. But in our case, something odd had happened: nothing was stolen. It was as if they had fled before they took anything, and the police suspected they piled stuff up to come back for it later. The neighbor may have actually unknowingly caught them in the act. Weeks later, thefts kept happening, and that was how our neighborhood formed a neighborhood watch. Because of this, the thieves were caught, and it turned out to be some older teen and his younger brother (aged 18 and 9 or so, the young one got into the tight spaces). Local boys.

Nothing can compare to the vulnerable feeling of being robbed. It takes away a layer of civility in your life, and gives you a little more daily paranoia to your grave. Probably the worst is cleaning up afterwards. Knowing that your stuff doesn't feel quite like yours anymore. Someone, a stranger, touched your stuff. And took the good stuff. Sometimes there is vandalism, like a swastika painted on your living room wall, destruction of valuable photos, drawers to a valuable antique desk ripped apart, or the years of writing on your hard drive on a computer that is now lost forever. I knew a guy who had locked up his laptop, only to find the thief just smashed it anyway. And you have no one to fight. Most of the time, the police don't really have the time to look, and even if they catch the crook, he or she won't have your stuff any more. It's gone man. And while insurance can replace that TV set, it can't replace your sense of security ever again.

I worry about my house a lot. I keep it well lit, lock up tight when we leave or at night, and keep a sharp sword and two knives by my side of the bed. I have two dogs, who may be small, but they pack a mean bite, and they are very sensitive to noise. I don't have a gun because I don't want to shoot myself, family, or friends by accident, and honestly, picturing myself attacking someone with a sword is comical enough, but with a gun? Whatever. All I'll end up with is having the gun stolen and on the streets.

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000398.html
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