The life of a crime reporter is fraught with other people’s peril. I spend my days observing various tragedies, disasters, heinous whatnots and so on. It’s my pleasure.
It’s easy for a person in my position to become jaded and cynical. But on Saturday I was transformed from detached observer to victim when some cretin kicked in my front door. I had been out of town all day seeing old friends and forgetting my systemic misanthropy.
When I returned home, the door hung ajar, the victim of someone’s felonious feet. My cat stood on the front yard and let out an exasperated meow upon seeing me exit the car.
The adrenaline hit my bloodstream immediately. I had been burgled. (Most people say “burglarized,” but I’m old school; “burgled” just sounds more icky, invasive.)
I entered the house and, much to my surprise, nothing seemed to be missing. Living in absolute filth as I do made it difficult to tell if anything was disturbed. I would later determine that a coffee can full of change appeared to be missing. That made no sense as the perpetrators passed up two laptops and a television on the way to the back of my home, where the coffee can lay. These items are by no means high dollar, but most crack dealers take merchandise.
The television hacks would have a field day with that: “Crime reporter maims burglar; burglar files lawsuit; crime reporter unemployed.”
Of course the absence of any real larceny (I must have lost the change can; no way they only took that) spurred an immediate and crushing onset of obsessive thinking. The bastards, they must have come in here and spit in my milk (the milk, the milk, the milk ... ).
After this feeling subsided, I called the police and they came incredibly fast (a perk of living in a small town).
Then I plotted revenge, not on one person, mind you, but the criminal underworld as a whole, à la Death Wish.
On Monday I planned to hit the arraignments at District Court, wait for the guards to drag out a coveralls-clad prisoner charged with burglary and give them the newspaperman version of the stocks. This, of course, would constitute a breach of journalistic ethics—swearing out vendettas on random criminals—so that was out.
Then I considered wiring the door with a shotgun shell attached to a mousetrap (something I learned from covering methamphetamine users; they are so clever). The television hacks would have a field day with that, however: “Crime reporter maims burglar; burglar files lawsuit; crime reporter unemployed.”
Everything worked out. Nothing appears to be missing, except those damn coins. A police sergeant opined that no one made it into the house. His house was robbed last month; the burglars found out it was his house (much to their horror) and still took a computer. They wouldn’t have bothered with a coffee can full of coins and were probably spooked away by something. This made me feel better. It’s nice to have police officers at one’s disposal to field questions.
Most importantly, the cat had the good sense to hang out and wait for me.
If I learned anything, it’s that one can never be prepared for coming home and seeing his or her personal space violated. I cover crime all week long and that didn’t prevent me from succumbing to two separate yet equally embarrassing meltdowns. I’m hopeful that I can take this lesson into the field and become a better reporter, less numb to the suffering of crime victims. In the meantime, I just need to repeat to myself: The milk is OK, the milk is OK, the milk is OK ...