Sunday, April 29, 2007

what does it say about me...

... that I don't feel violated?

Two things invariably happen whenever someone hears about the robbery:
1. They relate their similar experience(s);
2. They commiserate with how horrible I must feel, how vulnerable I must be now, because they remember that they felt violated -- every single person.

Well, I don't feel violated. My house was broken into, some stuff was stolen. I'm disgusted that I let it happen.

We lost an entire afternoon and evening to police procedures, clean up (that was quick) and insuring that our financial data was secure. We've had to spend more time re-purchasing the things we lost. DH has made a major time investment by taking this opportunity to switch the way his company does its payroll, but that's coincidental.

I am not torturing myself wondering why this happened. Someone was obviously watching the house. It could have been someone from the painter's crew, or a friend of someone on the painter's crew. It could've been someone working on the new park down the street. It could've been random thugs. I don't know, and I don't care. The reason it happened is quite simple:

We were stupid.

How stupid were we? Let me list the ways:
1. We've had an ADT security system in this house since the day we moved in. I cannot recall the last time we regularly set the alarm when we were coming or going. Did you get that? We had an alarm system, but we didn't use it. (We use it religiously now.)

2. For the longest time -- right up until we had the house painted, as a matter of fact, we had an "ADT Security" sign in our front yard. It was recently destroyed (I'm unclear how that happened), and even though we had an extra in our garage, we never put it out. So -- no sign, and an un-armed security system, a great combination!

3. We have a huge (8'x12') sliding glass door to our backyard. It had a flimsy lock on it. There was no security bar.

So you see: we were stupid, because we didn't do the things we knew we should have been doing to protect ourselves.

That explains why I'm annoyed with myself -- if you're going to be la-di-da and naive, the world will come along with a corrective eventually. As correctives go, this one was really not that bad. I'm bummed about the loss of my digital photos, but it's not the end of the world.

The reason I don't feel violated is because I know this attack was not personal. I, personally, was not attacked. My house was robbed. Sadly, I have a lot of experience with this type of thing.

When I was 9, my parents built a house on Cape Cod. We used it for weekends and vacations, and I can't tell you the number of times that house was broken into. Apparently, breaking and entering was an accepted way to pass the time in the off-season months. They would drink the liquor, scrounge for food, and take whatever cash they could find. I had my piggy bank stolen at least once. One time, my brother and his wife wanted to use the house for a week's vacation, and got there to find that every single window had been broken.

The summer I turned 13, we moved into that house year-round. One day I was coming home from school, alone -- Dad was still working up in Boston, and mom was out with my brother (I think), and I put my key in the lock and pushed it in, but before I could turn it, the door opened. I knew something was up, and walked in (stupidly, but I was clueless) saying, "Hello?" I heard footsteps downstairs and then the back door (also downstairs) slamming shut.

Mom got home shortly thereafter and figured out that I had surprised whoever it was by showing up. They must have figured the house was empty since there weren't any cars out front. I know my mom was freaked out by the "what ifs", but I don't remember being freaked out then -- I was entirely too sheltered, and had no idea what could've happened to me. Seriously, I couldn't figure out why my mother was so upset.

(My mom has an ADT system, too.)

Later I found out who broke all the windows and I was really upset -- kids I knew from school, not well, but still. This was months (if not years) after the fact, so there wasn't anything to be done about it. I still remember the horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, and Lynn's voice saying, "Well, they didn't know it was your house," as if that made it OK. Idiots.

After your house has been vandalized -- repeatedly -- you realize that it's not personal. You take stock of what's missing, you clean up the mess, you move on. There are bad people in the world, or, if you prefer, people who do bad things to others. Sometimes you may be at the receiving end of such a bad thing. There are things you can do to minimize that risk, but even doing everything you can, there's no guarantee that bad things aren't going to happen to you some day.

I don't feel fearful, but I am more cautious now. I set the alarm. I look the house over as we approach. These are things I should've been doing all along, but this is a nice neighborhood, and we have a very low crime rate around here (obviously not low enough...) Both DH and I fell into a state of complacency.

You can't be complacent about who or what you love. As I said before, sooner or later, the world will come along with a corrective, and we got ours. Lesson learned, no psychological violation required.

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