Thursday, December 11, 2008

A new holiday tradition?

Last holiday season, I was sent the gift of an OotS tee shirt. Since I wasn't expecting it, it was one of those surprise presents that are always fun to receive.

As is my habit with new clothes, I washed it before wearing it. I had lived here three years, and had never had a problem of any kind in the laundry room. So I was pretty ticked when I went to retrieve my laundry from the dryer. That tee shirt, along with several others items, had been stolen.

Well, I told the friend who had sent it, and he replaced it. But, really...who steals someone's clothing during the holiday season? Who steals certain articles of clothing? No joke, I believe some of my underwear was stolen.

Messing with my laundry seems to have become a holiday tradition. After I posted yesterday, I did a wash. I hadn't had a problem since last year, and somehow believed myself safe. I was wrong. As I unloaded my laundry from the dryer, I discovered that someone had actually added their wash to my dryer load! I took the extra items home with the intent of returning them to the office, along with a report to the manager that someone needs a lesson in manners. But as I separated my wash, I realized they had stolen some of my towels, tee shirts, and, once again, my underwear!

I don't get it. Is someone waiting until the holidays to steal my clothing to then give away as a gift? "Here, honey. I got you someone else's underwear for Christmas. And some tee shirts with sweat stains in the armpits. Oh...and some towels. They were all on sale. In fact, they were free!" The only good thing is that nothing they stole was new. Otherwise, I'd be off the wall with anger right now.

Of course, I reported all of this to the manager in the office, who was amazed that someone could be so stupid as to try to use my money to dry their things, steal my items, and think they could somehow get away with it.

Then she told me of her own theft on Tuesday. Because she mans the office alone, she can't leave unless she's showing an apartment. Someone volunteered to grab her a sandwich at Subway a block away. It sat on her desk, awaiting a quiet moment when she could eat it.

A man came in and asked if he could see an apartment. She went into the back to get the key to the model. When she came out of the back, the guy had left, taking her sandwich with him. She was able to see him through the large office window on the other side of the parking lot, eating her lunch. Oh...and she's a diabetic, like me. Not that the thief would know that she needed that food for medical reasons, but still...

Have I been asleep at some point? Did I not get the memo that the season of giving had become the season of taking? It seems that since 2000, holiday crime is on the rise. The above are petty criminal acts, compared to...I think it was 2003, when two banks in Sayville, NY, were robbed at gunpoint during the holiday season. (The thief was eventually caught because two robberies weren't enough for him.) A few years ago, a charity organization that gathers toys for underprivileged kids was broken into and emptied out. Two tears ago, in my own apartment complex, someone tried to break into a neighbor's apartment, thinking the neighbor wasn't home. He was, and there was a lot of late night shouting, as well as a lot of police activity.

I understand times are hard. I have existed in hard times for seven of the last eight years, with the year I lived on my Social Security back pay the only year I was able to exist without financial pain. But if I were physically capable of working a regular job, I'd be out earning the money I need, not stealing it. Nor would I even contemplate stealing from my neighbors, who are as far from wealthy as they can get.

Yesterday, when I did my laundry, I had to do it on the other side of the apartment complex because the laundry room on my side is closed until it's repaired. While I my clothes were drying, I stopped at a neighbor's place nearby, rather than return to my apartment and have to schlep back and forth. She told me about how she had gone to register her eight-year-old son and ten-year-old daughter for gifts with one of those charities that gets the gifts for poor kids. She got there at 7:30 AM. She left at 4:15 PM, having been on her feet the whole time, and realizing she was never going to see the registration papers. The line was still far too long, and the office closed at 5:00 PM. Because she is extremely overweight, the entire day on her feet had caused her harm. She couldn't make the trip again before the service permanently closed its office for the season.

This prompted me to tell her about my "holiday post." (She laughed at how one of the things I want is more friends that are billionaires.) I told her that if - pretty big IF - I received enough donations to "the Better Bor Foundation" that I would see what I could do about getting some gifts for her kids. Her son apparently has a thing for Bionicals, and her daughter has fallen in love with all things pertaining to High School Musical.

I made her no promises, other than I would try if I ended up with enough gift card, cash, or whatever. And her family is just the kind I like to help. She's a single mom, living in a one-bedroom apartment with her two kids and her mother. Her mother has cancer, and so she has to be home to care for her. (Treatments would kill her mother instead of helping her, and she's already outlived the doctor's estimate of how long the poor woman would live.) They struggle to make ends meet, and the only Christmas plan left is to get the kids clothing. And to return their recent favor...When I split my left foot open before I got my SSD check, she went out and bought me new ace bandages to wrap the wound. I owe that family a kindness.

Perhaps I shouldn't wait for possible help. I should just go with the new holiday tradition of stealing things.

Nah...I'm just not evil enough to do that, and I would suffer too much guilt. In fact, I seem to be the opposite. I'm poor and I want to give, not take. If there were more people like me, this new holiday tradition wouldn't exist.

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