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Life's Little Lessons

Week before last I read a news article advising how to avoid victimization by petty thieves who steal items out of cars.

One recommendation stood out: "Just be smart and more conscientious of how things you own appear in vehicles." It left me confused. If a thief claims to not know how someone else's belongings mysteriously appeared in his auto, how can the average citizen, me, know how her effects got out of her car and into his, when she truly does not know how they came into her vehicle in the first place?

Maybe I misinterpreted the instruction. Possibly, it means I should monitor the aesthetic appearance of property in my own van. I went out and observed the debris littering the floor of my car. Some items looked pretty good, like the beach ball that rolled around all winter waiting for the spring thaw; other objects looked a bit ratty, like the muddy sock with a hole in the toe. But I really couldn't gauge the visual impact this motley collection made on potential burglars.

I read on, ". . . the best suggestion is to have nothing in the vehicle." Good idea. I would wave my magic wand, if I could find it, and make everything disappear. Instead, I took inventory of the contents. At least if something turns up missing, I might have a chance of figuring out what.

The following list itemizes my rubbish. And, as a warning to all you bandits lurking in the bushes, I have placed a copy in my safe deposit box:

23 individual shoes, 27 socks, 138 petrified French fries, one jacket, one T-shirt, four rancid sweat shirts, two pairs of shorts that didn't fit any of six family members, one pair of underwear (not mine), one lunchbox with lunch from April still inside, one backpack containing three sets of lost homework (Is it too late to turn it in and get recess?), three notebooks, five crayons (outlaws are welcome to the orange one melted on the dashboard), two pencil cases filled with more French fries and a couple of moldy strawberries, one apple core, three dolls, one baseball mitt, one magic wand (found it!, but the batteries were dead), four electronic games, one plastic shovel, four books, one pair of green plastic sunglasses, two shark tooth necklaces, three paper clips, one flag, six odiferous cups with unidentifiable substances in varying degrees of decomposition, one bag of unopened popcorn, two fast food coupons, one cooler with slimy water and three juice boxes, one flathead screwdriver, one pair of pliers, one first aid kit, one pair of plastic clapper hands, one beach ball, one science experiment, and enough food wrappers to fill our city trashcan.

Underneath it all I found a petty thief who, due to the amount of material, took longer than the average 30 seconds and had actually ridden unnoticed amongst it for several days. He explained that as he dug for treasures with the plastic shovel he unearthed the electronic games, which he wanted, but needed repair. So he found the screwdriver. Due to exerting himself, he felt hungry and dined on an half eaten apple, some potato chip crumbs and a juice box. None of the shoes or shorts fit him, but he would have taken the T-shirt and jacket if he could have found his way back to the door.

All in all he thanked me profusely for discovering him and setting him free. Before departing, he assured me that my possessions appeared quite fine, but said I might want to do something about the smell.

Web posted on Thursday, June 24, 2004

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