Dispatches from Suburbia

If I played an instrument, I would have a band called "The Simon Thomsen Sex Tape"; and other musings, rants, and disconnected ramblings.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

We're Not in Santa Rosa Anymore, Nana

Quote of the Day: "Come gather 'round people/ Wherever you roam/And admit that the waters/ Around you have grown
And accept it that soon/ You'll be drenched to the bone."

-Bob Dylan, "The Times They Are A-Changin'"

Stacy, a coworker, lives across the street from my grandparents. During the holidays, my gentleman grandfather, who'd never spoken to Stacy, brought them some Christmas treats.

Stacy responded by making them a plate of treats. When she brought them to my grandparents, they invited Stacy, Stacy's son, and her roommate in. They sat them on the couch, offered them posole and something to drink, played with her kid, and treated them as if they were old friends.

When Stacy told me this I laughed. "Sounds like they've adopted you into the family," I said. "You know," I told her, "If Charlie Manson came to the door, I wouldn't be surprised if they let him in too and offered a bite to eat."

This is a scary thought. In the past few months, Albuquerque has seen a rash of "home invasions." Is there a more frightening phrase than "home invasion"? Apparently, a group of people has been all over town, going into homes, roughing up the people living there, and robbing them blind. It's a matter of being careful--just don't let strangers into your home, right?

It's one of those types of stories that my mother would tell me when I was younger to remind me why we don't open the door to strangers, stories that I now take with a grain of salt (kind of like the "terror alerts" or whatever the color-coded system is called). I'm careful, and the chances are slim of this even occurring to me. Still, people are mysterious. Stacy told me that, about a month ago, her roommate's boyfriend was in the bathroom when he noticed somebody staring in the bathroom window. He ran out into the snow, in his boxers, carrying a knife and a tazer gun, but it was too late. Peeping Tom got away. And I'd always thought of my grandparents' neighborhood as quiet and peaceful.

Then, last week, a man came to my grandparents' house and asked to use the phone. "He looked scruffy," my grandfather explains. So what did my grandparents do?

They let him in.

This scruffy man has been back three or four times since, and they've allowed him in every time. At one point he came over with a nasty sore on his cheek, saying he needed a ride to the hospital and asking to use the phone once again. My grandfather finally drew the line when the man asked for $20. "No sir," my grandfather said, "I live on Social Security."

My grandparents are members of a totally different generation and two people that raised their nine children in the small New Mexican town of Santa Rosa, "where everybody knows your name." But over the years, even Santa Rosa has developed a crime and heroin problem.

Thankfully, they finally grew afraid that maybe this guy was casing the house for a future break-in. When they mentioned to their children what was happening with this stranger, that they'd let him in the house, everybody replied, "Don't ever do that!"

"At the time," my grandmother says, "we thought nothing of it."

This afternoon I went over to visit them and to make sure nobody was hiding in the bushes. I was surprised to find that their front door was locked. In my 22 years of living, my grandparents have never locked the front door. I find it sad that they now have to, and that I come from such a different generation in which locking a front door is a no-brainer. I even envy them.

I like to think that I'm over-reacting, but things happen. Even in my grandparents' time and even before, human beings have often acted in evil ways. We kill. We engage in warfare. We steal and we backstab. It can be a hostile world. But when was it that we became prisoners of not only the external threat of hostility, but our own mistrust of the world around us?

I like to think that I could leave my front door unlocked and not worry about anything happening to me or my Hi-Def TV or my laptop. But it happens. A few years ago here in Albuquerque, a man broke into a couple's home, bound the wife, and killed her husband right in front of her. These more recent home invasions were less brutal--the burglars reportedly roughed up the homeowners but luckily went no further than that--but still, I suppose it can't hurt to be wary.

My other grandfather used to sell paint to the Clutters, which makes me wonder just how close I am to any sort of violence. Sure, these recent burglaries were not as brutal as they could have been, and we ought to try to maintain some of our innocence, but whenever I hear the term "home invasion," this is, sadly, what first comes to mind:


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At 6:58 PM, Blogger Stewart Sternberg said...

Trust is the absence of fear. To trust nobody is to fear everybody. Of course, I could also just be blowing smoke out my butt.

What is there about Manson's picture that makes him look like a boy scout leader? Several of my students love Manson, or at least proclaim to. They despise what he did, but they love the reactions adults have to that photo, and the one of him with the shaved head and the swastika carved on his brow.

At 7:58 PM, Blogger Sheila said...

Manson... creepy. My old english professor raved about Capote and the book In Cold Blood and even wanted us to watch the movie that came out. I haven't seen it yet but I hear he did an excellent job portraying Capote! I'll have to rent it one weekend I don't have homework!

At 8:55 PM, Blogger Dorky Dad said...

Fabulous post. I think it's interesting how different we are these days, even though I don't know whether crime has actually increased (on a per-capita basis).

That said, home invasions are particularly frightening. We usually consider ourselves safe in our homes.

At 3:46 AM, Blogger ShadowFalcon said...

That is horrible. Your poor grand parents, it must be terrible to go fom being so trusting to having to lock your door.

I've always locked my door, but where my dad grew up the house didn't even have doors...its strange how things change...

At 6:50 AM, Blogger etain_lavena said...

It is so sad, gone is the days of trusting helping and knowing neighbors visiting just being neighbors.
Here it is getting worse by the day, our crime rate are sky high and no one is really doing anything, and more violent crimes get reported every single day.

At 2:30 PM, Blogger Michelle's Spell said...

I hate how afraid people are these days. Alas, I guess it's always a balance. I love to trust, but can't always do it.

At 4:18 PM, Blogger Laura said...

It's a shame that people have to live in fear of being attacked, even in their own homes. My son's always get mad at me because I never lock the front door when I'm home alone at night. My daughter, on the other hand, locks the door even during the daytime if no one else is home.


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