One More Bag Stolen

Children need to be prepared for the world, the world does not need to be child-proofed. That has always been my assertion, and I stand by that. People always claim that shit will be dangerous if it gets in the hands of children, to which I would argue that the same shit is dangerous in the hands of adult morons, which would describe 40% of the people I meet. I think all the legal ages should be dropped to 12. Hell, I lost my virginity at 13, got drunk for the first time a year earlier, got high when I was 14 and read “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “A Catcher In The Rye” in that same year. Everything since then has been downhill.

Despite my claim that we need to be prepared for the rigors of the world instead of sheltered from them, I also find nothing as disgusting as blaming the victim. When something cruel or terrible happens to someone, you have to be absolutely sure you understand what ‘negligence’ is. If you get hit by a car because you walk out in to the street focusing only on opening a roll of Wacky Wafers (this happened to me) then you are surely asking to be hit by a car.

Because a street has a use, that use is to facilitate the speed of cars. It isn’t for the opening of candy. I feel bad for little Sean, that he was hit by a car and never told anyone for fear that he would be in trouble. Had he reported it, the response would have been ‘What did you expect? You should not have been opening candy in the road!’ followed by a possible grounding or worse, years of mockery about not being able to walk down the road. The information, to avoid being hit, now learned far better than anyone could have told him, yet still repeated back to him as a sort of post-emptive parenting, would have been as bad as being hit.

Yesterday Jordana’s car was broken in to. It wasn’t jimmied or anything, someone took a rock and bashed in the window. We were parked on a freeway overpass with a constant stream of traffic two blocks from the Symphony hall and performing arts center, and in line with maybe two hundred other cars. We were on the overpass with cars on the freeway streaming underneath us. My bag was on the floor of the back seat tucked behind the passenger seat and my friend Matt threw his leather coat over my bag

The car had been rifled, the trunk and glovebox opened, and my bag and the coat were both taken. Matt and I lost a lot of stuff inside the coat and bag, including my digital camera and his brand new cell phone. As we studied the street, we saw it was littered with casualties, little graveyards of glass where other cars had been hit at other times over the years, with one brand new pile of glass three car lengths up the street from two minutes before or two minutes after ours.

When I called my mom, she said ‘Well, you should have known not to park in Baltimore. That place is terrible for crime.’ My only reply was, ‘Well, since I was going to Baltimore, the only real choice I had was to park in Baltimore.’ Jordana’s parents don’t want to file an insurance report because their premiums will go up and they will be forced to pay for a mistake they believe we made.

We were robbed, which is much worse than the suspicion now hanging around us that we could have avoided being robbed had we been more vigilant somehow. But we did not “get” our stuff stolen, we did not “have” our stuff stolen. The person who broke in to the car stole our stuff. We parked it in a busy place, we locked the car, we put our stuff on the floor, but even had we not, they went through the trunk via the back seat. The cop said that people hit cars without alarms, they will break your window to steal a quarter off the seat, and he told us not to feel like it was our fault.

I am nothing if not vigilant, especially now. I watch every single person walking by, I always have. After my dad left, when I was fifteen, I spent 12 years sleeping with a weapon next to the bed because I knew I was the only thing between whatever was out there and my sister or mom or family. But there is nothing more we could have done to prevent the break in, and I refuse to allow anyone to describe this as my negligence.