Trouble Comes to Your House
In our neighborhood, trouble rolls downhill. It starts in Diamond Heights, where the Diamond View projects sit, disguised as casual redwood condos, eventually disrupting the hippies, old-timers and yuppies in Glen Park. Sometimes it thunders down the hill as quickly as a tricked-out Escalade slowing to 40 for the stop sign before disappearing in a cloud of hip-hop down the hill.
Other times it slinks downhill, checking the door handles of each car parked on our block in the early morning. Last night, our car was one of the unfortunate ones left unlocked, and trouble, wasting no time before seizing an opportunity, rifled through our glove box, console, front and back seats and sun visors, looking for some loose change or, even better, bills.
This time, trouble found nothing. See, trouble's mistake was assuming that any car parked down the hill belonged to someone in the habit of leaving cash lying around -- or in the habit of having cash to fling casually about their auto at night. Angered, trouble stomped on our floormats, leaving very clear overlapping Timberland boot prints. "I'll show them," thought trouble, disgustedly, as he tore through the glove box, leaving repair bills, maps, my business cards all over the passenger's seat in a disturbing pile of violation. His message was clear: trouble has been here, and he wasn't pleased with what he found.
This is the second time in a month that trouble has visited our Acura. You'd think he'd figure out that we don't leave money in our cars. He didn't take our CDs, which is as likely a comment on my obscure yet somehow pedestrian musical tastes as anything else. Fortunately, he did steal Sandra Bullock's aged sunglasses, finally accomplishing what I could not -- forcing her to recognize that managing to not lose sunglasses for 6 years may not be enough reason to not buy new ones.
The fact that trouble did his work from the driver's seat bothers me. Was he trying to steal our car? And the fact that we have now left our car unlocked twice, only to have trouble visit each time, worries me further. It suggests that trouble comes down our street each and every night, trying the doors of each car. Our neighborhood, so "hot" in the real estate sense, is the kind of place where small-time thugs take a little time every night to see how many cars they can break into. Not to mention that it's also the kind of place where people get shot for no reason. Of course, that happened higher up the hill.
A couple of weeks ago, I was going somewhere when I noticed four police cars blocking off the end of our street. Someon's alarm had gone off, so the cops arrived. It was a false alarm, but the cops here hanging around anyway, just to see, I guess, if trouble would show up from his perch on top of the hill. "Yeah, we've increased our presence in the neighborhood," one of the cops said when I asked.
Which is good, or bad. It depends on what you expect of your neighborhood. "I guess we'd better remember to lock our cars," said the always-chipper S. Bullock when I told her of this morning's incident. Oddly enough, she is the one unfazed by the realities of city living, not me, despite my often-repeated soliloquies praising city living.
I always thought that cities, at their best, were basically a bunch of small towns stuck together. Your neighborhood was your small town -- the grocery guy knew you, the mailman, the bartender, the pet store workers, etc. Only with cities, you also got culture and access to big-time restaurants and stores.
Sometimes, though, they remind me that they're not small towns. Either that or I'm getting old.
I must be getting old, I swear.