I rent. I live in this house with my kids. I don’t cook meth. I don’t have a stash of unsecured guns because I hate guns. And except for occasional loud expletives that escape the mouths of my teenagers, usually in response to a video game, we’re pretty quiet.
Do you notice what I just did? I didn’t write that I have bags under my eyes or that there are cobwebs in some of the corners of the rooms, that this house is messy and there are unpacked boxes in the closet. And I didn’t write that there’s a sparseness to it like its inhabitants are ready to flee at a moment’s notice.
The neighborhood is nice, close to the river and not heavily populated. My landlords are responsive if there’s a problem, which is why a contractor and his small crew came out today to replace a window.
They do their work and just before they are about to leave, a police woman and a city worker show up at the door.
“Are you the homeowner?
“Renter” I say.
“Can we come in?” she asks.
“Sure.” I say. I’m not very savvy and not a quick thinker.
They come in. A small interrogation happens. Evidently, we have a room full of stolen city property. Road signs. One of the stolen road signs, the STOP sign, was a gift from his aunt and uncle, purchased online and arriving just in time for Christmas a couple years ago. The stolen YIELD sign came from a garage sale in Minneapolis a few years ago. I’m not sure who would take the rap for that. And the stolen street signs were given to Pook in July by the city worker who was replacing them. I remember thinking at the time what a waste of resources it was to replace perfectly good, slightly used, street signs with new ones, the only difference being that the names on the old ones were all in capital letters.
Luckily, Pook is home and I call to him, telling him the police are here, but that he isn’t in trouble. Pook has been listening to the whole exchange so far and comes into the room.
“It was July 19th about 8am” he says.This is in response to a question asked a minute earlier about when we got the street signs.
“Ask our neighbor,” I say, “He was there.”
The police woman asks for my ID, my phone number, and tells us to get the signs. The STOP sign has a bar code on the back and a sticker identifying the store it came from, so that’s one less stolen item. The city worker looks at the YIELD sign and says, “That’s not mine,” though I don’t know how he can tell. About the street signs, he says, “These are mine.”
“Take ‘em”, I say. I don’t want them in this house. What had once represented a sweet memory of Pook as he joyfully and awkwardly carried the signs home has become tainted.
As they are leaving, my landlord calls. After they’ve gone, I call him back and assure him that it’s all sorted out.
A couple hours pass. Pook vacillates between fury and sorrow. I am not calm so I text my landlord.
I’m just thinking about what happened this morning and I’m bothered that one of the people who came into the house to replace a window took it upon themselves to call the police about a street sign in the bedroom. It was given to my son by a worker from the city when they were being replaced. At any rate, it feels like aviolation.
Was that what happened? The pd said it was visible from the road. If so we will fix it w the window guys
Ha. Lying comes too easily for too many people these days.
Oh man that’s not ok and not the story I got. We will take care of it
It was against the inside wall of the west bedroom.
My landlord does take care of it. Late in the afternoon the city worker shows up at the door with some road signs for Pook. After he leaves, Pook says, “What would’ve happened if we were black?”
And the road signs are still in the living room. I’m guessing they’ll end up in the garage.