Sunday afternoon

Sunday afternoon was quite nice. It was warm and sunny, though I felt a cool breeze when I tried to sit on my patio. I’m rather sensitive to temperature and I started to get goosebumps, so I had to move. There was a sunny corner between the fence and my back patio door, protected from the wind, so I perched myself there atop the edge of a flower box to bask like a lizard. I had my sunglasses, a magazine and an adult beverage, so I settled down to relax for a while before starting dinner preparations.

My tiny backyard actually faces a street. I like sitting there. There’s always something going on: vehicles driving by, people coming and going to the small businesses in the building across the street, kids walking to and from the park and swimming pool just a block away. I think I like it so much because of all the years I spent in suburbia when I first got married and had DD, where everybody lived at back of their houses, striving for as much privacy as possible. You rarely saw anybody walking down the street (not that you would look to the front anyway: no one seemed to use their living rooms), but we all knew each other’s cars. That was about all you’d see then: a car driving along the street and into its own garage. The garage door would shut behind them and that was it.

Anyway, I was thumbing through my magazine, sitting there in the sun in my own backyard. I noticed some movement in front of my gate, on the sidewalk there. I looked up and saw a young man in shorts and t-shirt, with a backpack. He was just standing there, looking behind him, obviously waiting for someone. He didn’t notice me. Then he turned and kept walking. I kept looking.

Then along came a young woman, about the same age, late teens or early twenties. Her long brown hair was tied up in a ponytail, and she was wearing a white t-shirt and a summer skirt. She was walking swiftly past my gate.

I looked back down at my magazine. Then I heard a neighbour two doors down calling, “Excuse me!” several times. I looked up as he ran out of his yard, down the street, apparently after that young woman. I wondered what was going on, and went over to my gate to look down the street.

As I did, my neighbour’s wife came striding down the sidewalk. When she saw me, she stopped and said, “Did you see where that girl went?”

I said that indeed I had, and described what I had seen.

She told me that her husband was chasing that young woman because, from their kitchen window, they had just seen her brazenly going into their backyard and stealing a pack of cigarettes that had been left on the table outside! Not only that, but this neighbour also told me that she thought she had “lost” a pack of cigarettes outside the day before, as well, and that she was now pretty sure that this same young woman had stolen them then, too.

Her husband now came back up the street and handed his wife the pack of cigarettes in question. He had caught up with the girl and had confronted her. She had returned the cigarettes to him. He had also questioned the guy, who had apparently denied that he was even with the girl. My two neighbours and I had a brief chat about how you just can’t leave anything outside any more, and what was this world coming to, and just how audacious it was to boldly walk right into somebody’s yard to pinch something in the middle of the day.

I returned to my warm, sunny spot in the corner between the fence and the patio door, pondering what I had just witnessed. I guess there’s something to be said for hiding yourself in your very private, totally enclosed suburban backyard: you can go back into the house and leave your cigarettes on the table without worrying that someone will steal them.

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9 responses to “Sunday afternoon

  1. Wow! Even cigarettes aren’t safe! I would probably leave ‘prank’ items unsecured in my backyard just to screw with the low-lives stealing stuff!

    • Mrs Jones – Yes, when I saw her walking back down the street, she certainly looked very calm and collected, like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.

      An award?? How nice of you! I’ll be by very soon to pick it up! xo

      Pauline – I know, it sounds weird, doesn’t it? But with the price of cigarettes now (I honestly have no idea, but aren’t they close to 20 bucks a pack now?), I guess stealing them would be fairly lucrative if you wanted to resell them.

  2. It takes some bottle, though, to just walk into someone else’s garden in broad daylight and nick stuff!

    There’s an award for you over at my place.

  3. Obvious victim of age discrimination in kids purchasing tobacco products. Now, if we let them buy them as young as 10 such antisocial behavior wouldn’t happen. Damn do-gooders ruin things for everybody else.

    • mrwriteon – Ohhhhh … I never even considered that the poor dear was suffering from such discrimination and the accompanying low self-esteem. How callous of me and my neighbours! If only we could find that girl again and encourage her to join a victims’ group, or to find a good therapist (all paid for by our wonderful government, of course)!

  4. Linda – At least it was only a pack of cigarettes that was stolen (as expensive as they must be these days). My neighbours didn’t lose their barbecue or their patio lanterns or their patio furniture.

    Jazz – No, there was no collateral damage to any adult beverages that afternoon, either mine or my neighbours’ (just to our livers, I guess).

    XUP – Yes, but in deepest, darkest suburbia, no one would even SEE into a backyard to determine if there was anything worth stealing there.

    And I can totally picture you organizing a raid to steal your own stuff back! I’ll bet you look really cute when you’re pissed off! 😉

  5. I don’t think this is a new phenomena. Even in the old days, hobos and rascally kids would pinch things from people’s yards — fresh pies off the window sill, clothes off the clothesline, a burger off the BBQ. It’s not nice, but I think it’s worse if we all suburbanize ourselves and only recognize cars, not our neighbours because of it. I’d gladly lose something to a pilferer now and then to retain a sense of community. For instance, because you don’t live in the suburbs, you were able to see the thief and describe her to the neighbour. (Once, in Halifax some university students stole all my deck furniture in the night. I found it on their front porch a few streets over the next day and brought some friends along to steal it back)

  6. Tell me no one stole your “adult beverage”…

  7. So many people will do things like that. It’s too bad when you can’t even leave something in your own yard. Sigh.