When I came home after a truly stressful Wednesday, Julio, the head maintenance man at my apartment complex, was sitting in his golfcart in front of my building.

“Hey, how are you doing?” he asked. So friendly, I thought. He always says hi when he sees me.

“Okay,” I said. It had been a hard day. He got out of his cart and started walking with me, which was a little weird.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but your apartment was burglarized today.”

Wait. What?

We stopped walking. “Oh my god. What?” I said, dumbfounded. I live in sweet safe suburbia. This sort of thing happens in “bad areas.” Safety and security, I was harshly reminded, are illusions we feed ourselves so we can rest. We reached my front door. It looked like the demo scene on an HGTV show. I tried not to visibly shake.

Apparently, soon after I left for work, a team of thieves broke into my apartment and a few others in my complex. They stole anything that could be used as a weapon.

Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t do drugs. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t have sex. Wear a condom. Wear sunblock. Wear a seat belt. Wear a helmet. If you see something, say something. Just say no. Stop, drop, and roll. Stop, look, and listen. Look both ways before you cross the street…
Safety is an illusion. Bad things can happen to anyone at any time, whether you follow the rules or not. You can check left, check right, check left again before you step off the curb and into the crosswalk, but that won’t stop an anonymous asshole in his shitty pickup from putting you in intensive care…
-Megan McCafferty, Perfect Fifths

It’s a strange thing, coming home to hard realities like that. I wandered through my house stupidly, feeling so scared and thankful (my kids and I weren’t home), as I tried to think a cohesive thought.

The police came, the maintenance team fixed the doors, the insurance people were kind and helpful, my boss graciously gave me a day off, and my sister offered her home as a sanctuary that night. I was in a daze. I didn’t sleep for two days.

It’s funny what people find valuable. These thieves took only those things they knew would be valued in a fight. My family and friends, my colleagues and my apartment complex gave things of far greater value: empathy, space, real concern, and tangible help.

As I went to make a sandwich Friday morning only to discover the thieves took all my knives, I thought about them. I wonder how sad and hard their lives are, how scared and heartless one has to be to live as they do, and about how they can’t trust anyone. They walked past photos of my children and rifled through the meager possessions of a single mom, unable to see what was really valuable in this world. Their hardened eyes were only looking for things they could use to hurt others.

People have generously asked if they can lend and even replace what I’ve lost, which is incredibly generous, but the truth is I think I may have found more than I lost. I found strength, and courage, and I found that those who care about me are even more kind and good than I knew.

To each of you who helped me through this rough week, thank you.

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6 Responses to Valuables

  1. You are the second friend that has gone through this recently. I didn’t do well when it happened to me. Take care.

  2. It’s a violation. These people are just the dregs in the sewers of society. Glad your ok tho.

  3. Sherry G says:

    I’m sorry that happened to you, but glad you found a bright spot in the madness. Whenever I doubt and wonder where I can find God, I often conclude it’s in the kindness and help we give each other.

  4. I know this feeling all too well as it’s happened to me twice. I’m so sorry you’re going through this but SO thankful that you weren’t there. It could have been so much worse. Get you a simply safe alarm system. Affordable and good. Meanwhile I’ll be praying that God restores your peace of mind. Everyone needs to feel safe in their own home.

You look like you want to say something. Go right ahead.