When I was in high school, we had the joy of having an international visitor, an exchange student from Switzerland.
Christine was like no one I had ever met, and she gave me the opportunity to see our world through new eyes.
When I feel overwhelmed by a changing world, I try to see things through that open-eyed vantage point.
“What do you mean you do not need a key to get into your house after school?” she asked after inquiring if I wanted her to get the key out of my purse as we neared home, while I drove our beat-up old Ford.
“No, we don’t lock our doors,” I explained as her eyes widened in disbelief.
“We are in and out of the house all day long, and it would be a nuisance to have to unlock the door each time,” I tried to explain. Christine looked at me as though she had landed among Martians.
Since her mother was often in Italy or France as a fashion designer, and her father traveled with his international commerce position, their home at the foot of the Swiss Alps was locked down with great security, the likes of which sounded incredibly foreign.
Long before anyone I knew had a home security system, Christine carried three different keys, and described a sensor which had to be deactivated when she and her sister arrived home.
“How is it you have any single thing left in your home?” Christine asked. It saddens me to know that our own community now has to consider such things.
Theft is greatly on the rise in suburban and rural communities. We had a terrible taste of it this past week when our son’s home was broken in to — the lovely original front wooden door cracked at the deadbolt.
The thief or thieves even swept up after themselves so that no splintered wood was visible.
Since my son and his wife entered through a different door, it might have been days until they discovered the robbery since nothing appeared disturbed, and valuables sitting in plain sight were not touched.
The thief went straight to a hidden safe, robbed old, sentimental silver coins and emergency cash, but walked past other cash sitting out.
The swept-up wood splinters and the deadbolt were thrown deep into the closet, and items that surely were moved to get to the safe were put back perfectly in place.
Police said these actions all point to the robber being someone they know, someone they likely have welcomed into their home. It turns the stomach to consider this.
It has taken lots of labor of friends and family, in freezing cold temperatures, to replace a front door, to secure a home that once felt safe and tranquil.
A thief takes more than what can be carried away. What has become of our civility?
It feels as though we have returned to the old Wild West mentality, one in which the roughest, toughest go for what they want without a bit of conscience.
We all need to reactivate old neighborhood watch programs. Banding together with a common cause, let’s see to it that the good guys prevail.