Petty theft

I was taking some trash out while getting ready for work, and noticed that one of the solar lights was knocked over and somewhat dis-assembled in one flower bed. Then I noticed one of the heavy duty extension cords was laying among the parts of the solar light, unplugged. For a second I was trying to figure out how someone would have run through that section of the yard. It’s not at a space where one would cross trying to take a shortcut. The concrete steps and steel rail are in the way for any sort of path that includes it.

Then I finally realized that one of the outdoor light sets was gone. Specifically the four lights that look like giant old-fashioned outdoor bulbs. Each was on a stake so they stand up, a red, green, yellow, and blue light. I had them spread across the front edge of the flower bed, completing the line from the snowman to the porch.

If you yanked up the four lights, making sure to get the easily-detached stakes off the bottom of each, pulling the plug out would have pulled up the extension power strip, and the second extension cord that led up to the icicle lights along the eave. And I assume that the process of disconnecting cables knocked over the solar light.

It’s irritating. Petty theft always is. It’s not that the lights were that expensive. I found myself being more irritated at having to get the extension cords back in place than at the loss. At least at the moment. I know when I come home from work and I can see the “gap” in my yard display because those lights aren’t there, I’ll get annoyed again. And even if I go buy something to replace it, at least some of the times that I look at the new display I’ll have a tinge of irritation as I recall the theft.

I remember a similar incident years ago. Ray was still alive, and he found these very silly garden pinwheels that had little cartoon tiger faces, and the blades that spun in the wind were tiger striped. The flowers weren’t very high, and he had decided we needed something in that bed to give it color. Not to mention that he really liked tigers. The pinwheels lasted a couple of days. I was at work, Ray said he was on his way out for an errand and he paused to spin one of the pinwheels by hand before getting into the car. He came back an hour or so later, and they were all gone.

He was very upset.

I wanted to go buy new ones, but he figured whoever stole them must be someone who walked by the place on a regular basis and just decided they wanted them. His reasoning was if we put more out right away, they’d just get stolen again. I don’t think the expense was what upset him so much, because my recollection was they they were very cheap. But there was definitely a feeling of violation. Probably worse precisely because they were cartoon tigers, and they brought out his inner child.

Whenever I find things like the purple and green metal pinwheel I bought last summer, or the solar lights, or the Christmas lights—I always have a twinge of emotion related to those tiger pinwheels. Angst or anxiety both feel a little too strong to describe the feeling. It’s just a hint of a fret about how I might feel if whatever it is gets stolen.

Sometimes I decide that I don’t want to risk it. If the object is expensive enough that I’ll be angry about the price, for instance. Or if it’s something that evokes a strong emotional response as soon as I see it.

But there’s always a little bit of defiance, too. I don’t want to let an a—hole dictate my actions. If I stop putting decorations out because this one jerk stole four cheap light-up decorations, if I let the actions of the occasional prick change me, then that’s another little surrender to the forces of darkness. I refuse to respond to petty theft by becoming a paranoid git saying “bah humbug” to the world.

Because it is petty. And being the sort of prick who steals novelty lights (or pinwheels) out of someone’s front yard is its own punishment, in the long run. The sort of person who stoops to that sort of theft tends to stomp all over the feelings of other people in their lives, too, which is a sure way to breed contempt.

So, the rest of the lights will stay up, and I very well may put out more, if I find something appropriate. Because the proper response to any assertion of the powers of darkness is always to light at least one small candle.

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