Helping neighbor turns into big mess


No man is an island … no matter how much we wish we could be!

I have spent the past couple of weeks wishing we could turn the calendars back to the 1950s. Though it’s not the first time I’ve wished this, it may be the hardest wishing I’ve ever done.

Innocence and fear. The first part of this story occurred two weeks ago. My husband was to pick up our daughter, Caroline, from the school after volleyball. He then stopped by the high school and they watched the varsity girls’ volleyball game.

It kept getting later and later, and I started worrying. Just as I was ready to kick my worrying in to high panic gear as the clock went past 9 p.m., a sheriff’s deputy pulled in to my driveway.

My heart sunk to my knees. Fearing some horrid news, I walked to the door on legs that seemed to suddenly be cement.

He said, “Are you the one who called?”

I was clueless, and I’m sure I appeared that way.

“You reported a problem, ma’am?”

I didn’t know what he was talking about, and we both scratched our heads for awhile. Then Doug came barreling in to the driveway.

I’ve never been more happy to see my daughter walk through the door. She was obviously very shook up.

Rural mischief. Doug had witnessed a passenger jump out of a truck with its lights off, and run in to our neighbor’s soybean field. The truck’s driver then took off. Doug attempted to track down the person in the soybean field, using a flashlight.

He stopped and talked with our neighbor, found out she was home alone with their four young children. He decided to bring Caroline home and get a stronger spotlight.

But, on the way, he spotted a guy walking up the road, seemingly carrying something.

Doug pulled right up beside him, rolled down his window and asked, “What’s going on?”

The guy fidgeted and said “Nothing.”

Doug questioned him some more, and the guy said, “Go ahead and call the cops, I ain’t doing nothing wrong.”

Doug picked up his cell phone to call the sheriff’s department, and the guy bolted. The truck that had dropped him off then came back around, its lights still turned off.

Doug tried to block the truck with his van and nearly got hit in the process. Caroline was frightened beyond words.

The truck took off, barreling fast, and Doug attempted to follow to get a license number. No luck.

Turn back time. A week went by. Caroline was having trouble sleeping, but the passing of time was helping.

Tuesday morning, Caroline and I went out to hop in my Suburban to go to school. The inside had been vandalized – someone had stolen everything from hidden birthday gifts for my son to musical tapes, flashlights and my cellular phone, a little bit of spending money.

The most menacing damage was a deep, long slash across the driver’s seat.

I want to turn back time to the days when this was so rare that it was big news. The sheriff’s deputy showed up a few hours after I reported this, saying it’s just the way it is.

This episode has changed our world. We live in such a safe, rural community that many people still leave the keys in their unlocked vehicles.

When I was a kid, a family friend was milking his cows one morning, his pickup truck parked outside the barn. Of course he left the keys in it – everyone did at that time. Imagine his shock when he came out of the barn to no truck!

The sad thing is, now there is no shock. We all just kick ourselves for giving the thugs the opportunity.

Note to readers. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to those who have sent Cort good wishes.

He wishes that he could write back to everyone to say thank you. Your kindness has lifted his spirits enormously.

There are still lots of good people in this world!


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.