VACATIONERS, beware! If you’re one of those extremely fortunate families who go away during March break, be reminded that this is when thieves may strike.
It’s open season on break-ins. That’s according to a news release I just got that’s full of startlingly paranoid tips, which include “Don’t use your home address on your luggage tags” for fear of tipping off criminals to your absence.
That likely means our cab drivers and airport bag checkers are suspect. I picture some service industry professional covertly texting my address to his masked buddy in North Vancouver after seeing my family set off on some (imaginary) trip. “Check this house out,” he might type, adding the pertinent link to MapQuest. “But there won’t be much left inside – the owners appear to have taken everything with them.”
I guess all kinds of bad guys are roaming our streets unchecked. Unfortunately for your peace of mind, I include myself in their number. I do a lot of wandering with our rambunctious dog, and she has no aversion to nefarious activities of any sort.
“This is all grist for your mill,” I tell the pup as we troll local cul de sacs for random detritus on garbage day. “You might as well taste everything life has to offer so you can make informed choices. I don’t eat a lot of Skittles packaging myself, but why should my prejudices curtail your taste sensations?”
Because we drift aimlessly about Lynn Valley like noxious spring pollen, I have mixed feelings about how much home security is advisable while you’re away. Who knows, I may feel like breaking into your place myself.
You should welcome this opportunity. While the average thief is looking for money and valuables, and may perform acts of vandalism out of malice or boredom, I’m your dream burglar. It’s true that I’ll leave my dog tied up outside to upend your potted plants and eat your welcome mat, but I myself will just pry open a window and quietly squeeze in.
I mean you no harm. I just want an immaculate house to sit in for a while, not unlike CBC storyteller Stuart McLean’s fictional character Morley, whose task of feeding a neighbour’s fish turned into a case of house envy on a recent episode of The Vinyl Cafe. Like her, I crave the comfort of a place where every inch of living space isn’t covered with chewed bits of wood, drool-drenched dog toys, skateboards, snow-boots, books, trade show gadgets and barbecue equipment.
So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll break into your place. I’ll take off my shoes, out of respect (something I don’t do in my own house, which explains the low self-esteem that drives me to live outside the law). I won’t look in your bedrooms, so you can relax about that. I’m just going to walk into your kitchen, which you will have left neat and tidy because you’ve gone away. I’ll sigh at the sight of such immaculate, uncluttered counter-tops. How do you do it?
I’ll applaud your colour scheme (probably -- no guarantees) and stroke your appliances. I’ll fondle your unstained mugs. I’ll comb your calendar, see what you’ve got planned for March. You’ll probably have written on there when you’re coming back, which will be handy information. If there’s anything exciting marked down, I’ll make a note of it, in case I want to attend that performance or event; I may be a burglar, but I’m not completely uncouth. Likewise, I’ll correct any spelling errors on the calendar, no charge.
I’ll open the fridge door, just for the hell of it. I know what you’re like – you can’t depart for a week or two without turfing your perishables, in case you suddenly decide to stay wherever it is you went and your place has to be rented or sold as is. I’ll inspect your array of condiments, which, I promise you, will be fewer and far less freaky than mine, and shake my head admiringly. “Only one kind of mustard? Unbelievable!” I’ll mutter.
Then I’ll look in your freezer and predict the likelihood of your ever coming back. If you’ve just got Costco appetizers in there and you went to Hawaii, you won’t be in any hurry, but if you have homemade spaghetti sauce, your own pies and your destination was Comox, you clearly intend to return as scheduled.
I may turn on your TV, watch a little daytime. I’ll flip through your Chatelaine, looking at the recipes you’ve dog-eared to see if I approve. I won’t be able to spend more than 15 minutes because my dog will soon start battering your door with her giant, muddy paws and she might attract the fuzz. I’ll inch out the way I inched in, leaving only a bent window-frame in my wake.
I like to know what’s going on in the homes of my neighbours. Is that a crime?
Incidentally, bon voyage.