An Honest Thief

How they make their living…

In the middle of August, I began my cross country trip to visit NJ and see my family. I was also visiting during the local stop of Dear Evan Hansen so I was able to see my son for a few days as well. My car, one that was just purchased at lease end, seemed to be the focus of a lot of my trip. Hub caps popping on and off and the changing cost of gas at each stop made for an interesting narrative. Sadly, the worst was saved for my last day in San Francisco. I moved my car from the expensive ($35) parking lot to the free meter for the final day. On Sunday, the meters do not run and the parking is free. Ah…but as the saying goes…there’s no free ride…or in this case park.

I was alerted to this possibility by the daytime clerk at the desk of the Grant Hotel. The night clerk recommended against it. He said that the neighborhood was not good…even in the day. Also, parking spaces may not be available when I want them. I told him that I arrived at 5:30AM the previous day…I would be able to find a spot. Having heard him talk about the access to parking…I decided to move my car at 2:30AM. There were still people wide awake and milling about. The spot I got was right in front of the door of the Golden Gate Hotel which was right next door.

I went in and within the hour, I was to be robbed. I wouldn’t know it until the next morning. I did not heed the warnings. I tried to save $35 and now it will cost me hundreds. All of those trite sayings were popping into my head. Sayings like, “pennywise and pound foolish” or “better safe than sorry”. Still, I take no blame for the crime. I am not the criminal. Yet, the criminal(s)…they had the reputation.

The way they approached their crime was in a very businesslike way. They assessed the risk, they worked in tandem, they knew their target, they were in and out in about 15 seconds. They got a very nice suitcase full of…dirty underwear and a couple pair of shoes. It was not the score that they had hoped for but the crime was low risk. Breaking a window doesn’t trigger an alarm like opening the door without a key. The car was silent all night.

Since they can’t make a decent living off of dirty underwear…I am sure that I was not their only target of the night. It does make me wonder…what if? What if they used their skills to help people instead of hurt them? What if they looked for real opportunities to contribute instead of being opportunists? What if someone had cared enough to get between them and the bad decisions that have now come to define their lives?

Parents, teachers, friends, and extended family have to be much more involved in the lives of young people before they make enough bad choices to end up here working the night shift.

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