We laugh about it because being nice to everyone isn’t a problem for him. He and his wife often mention what wonderful neighbors they have and what a delightful neighborhood they live in. They say it as though another neighborhood wouldn’t be as good. I remind them that the reason they have such good neighbors is because he is such good neighbor. I think it would be the same wherever they lived. I know that I would like to have them living near me.
There is another, less attractive, side to this discussion. It happens when, instead of having to be nice to everyone, you feel suspicious of everyone. It most often happens when theft is involved.
It seems natural to ask, “Who took it?” when something comes up missing. Once the question is asked, we begin to consider anyone who might have been in the vicinity at any time. We become suspicious of everyone.
There was a time many years ago, when all of our children were still living at home. One of the kids claimed some money had been taken from the top of the dresser. Everyone was a suspect. At one point, Barbara said to me, “Are you sure you didn’t pick it up?” Even I, with my stellar reputation, could not escape suspicion.
Theft had not been a problem in our home, so the missing money was a bigger deal than it might have been. Everyone was frustrated. I made a rash promise that when I found out who took the money I would give them a good spanking.
We eventually solved the issue and I delivered the promised spanking to the youngest of the siblings. After all these years, I still regret the spanking. I brought it up to my son a few months ago and told him that the spanking still bothered me. He laughed it off and explained that he had placed something inside his pants to absorb the spanking. So, it seems the joke was on me.
I have always thought that theft did not rank high enough in the hierarchy of transgressions. It is so disruptive to a home, a neighborhood or a society. A thief takes more than an object. He steals the hours of labor, the sweat and fatigue that were required to earn the price of the purchase. He takes the joy from another’s life.
I have shelves covered with the accumulation of a lifetime of poking about the countryside. There are rocks and minerals and fossils. There is a whiskey shot glass that has begun to turn purple. There are a couple of purple insulators. There is the jawbone of a lion and one of a fox. There are a few souvenirs. Most of this stuff is valuable only to me. I look at it and wonder what my kids will do with it when I am gone.
A few days ago I stopped by one of the shelves to look at the old .45-90 brass. It was not there. It is always there, so, after looking to the right and to the left and on the floor, my next thought was, “Who took it?”
But, I don’t know anyone who would steal from me. I put out of my mind any notion that it was stolen. I knew I had to have misplaced it. After all, I recently walked all the way to the back of the house, only to discover that I had the TV remote in my hand. And I hadn’t even been watching TV.
This morning I found the .45-90 brass on the stand next to my recliner.