It’s a valid question, I think, as head out the door to roust my sixteen year old Ford from the icy clutches of this bitter cold snap. Why do I lock the doors to my house, or my car, or anywhere?
I suppose the first and best reason is security. Sure, we don’t want any local yobbos coming in (hey, yobbos is in the spellcheck! But “spellcheck” isn’t?!) and busting up the place, or us, for that matter. Now obviously I’m being silly here by putting me and my wife second on the list, because in all seriousness I think I’d tear the throat out of anyone who tried to take my wife from me… which is, oddly enough, the same reason I support same-sex marriage, because if heterosexual marriage was illegal, you could bet your sweet bippy I’d be leaping at throats. Anyway, we live within walking distance of a high school, and we live right on a main thoroughfare in the city. High school kids walk by every day on their way to and from work. I’m even a substitute teacher at that school. But we’ve never been egged, or vandalized, or really had anything bad happen except when the darn UPS guy leaves the neighbor’s deliveries in OUR garage, and that’s only a minor annoyance. Now I know we live in an idyllic little corner of the Midwest, so I’m probably talking directly out of my butt on this, but that, I would argue, is the point. Why, in bloody Western Wisconsin, should I be as scared of home invaders as I would be in, say, South Chicago?
The second reason is probably our “things.” As George Carlin once famously quipped, life is all about “trying to find a place for your stuff.” But, I have to ponder, if there’s someone looking to break into my house, I think they’ll be sorely disappointed. I’ve got used everything: a used TV that weighs 118 pounds, a load of furniture gifted from the estate of my wife’s late grandmother, and even the items we got new from our wedding, like the pots and pans, have now been put to the test for 3 years and change. The newest thing of value in our house (apart from the reduced-price can of superlump crab meat that I am jealously turning into crab cakes tonight) would have to be the battery I just put in Luv’s laptop, or maybe the 2 year old Xbox 360. I don’t even think my wife’s five year old laptop, trusty and dusty as she is, would fetch much of a price with the unseated USB jacks on its right side. We rent this house, so the fridge and oven aren’t ours, and even the washer & dryer we bought were $75 apiece. In short… what would a would-be thief find worth stealing if our door was left open? If anything, he might just feel pity, and that would go double if we were to leave our cars unlocked. I wrote an entire article about our 16-and-21-year old cars over here, so I don’t need to belabor that point. Heck, I’d probably be more interested in seeing if I could set the guy up with something if he busted into our house, Lord knows I have too much stuff currently. I’ve got a vintage 90s Chicago Bears baseball cap, sound good?
So how did we get to this? How did we all go so scared of everyone and everything around us to the point where chuckleheads like myself are actually worried that someone might want to steal my old rubbish? I mean, I saw my neighbor getting rid of an old-fashioned projection style big screen TV a little while ago, maybe even to of ’em… and he had an “I stand with Scott Walker” sign in his yard, so he’s probably doing all right for cash… I figure he’s probably the target in the neighborhood, not me. But still there is that primal fear in me that makes no sense… and why? Well about thirty years ago (and darn it all if it doesn’t seem like a lot of today’s problems started thirty years ago… I wonder why that was?) this thing started to spring up that everyone hated you. You were all alone. Margaret Thatcher herself quipped that there was “no such thing as society” and almost as if on cue the entire “stranger danger” thing started. It used to be you’d borrow a cup of sugar from the neighbor, but then Margaret Thatcher said there was no such thing as society, and that we were all on our own, and us rugged individuals had to cloister ourselves away from the DANGER around every corner… and then we all got so caught up in our individualist universe that we didn’t realize the rich & powerful were still working together and still organized toward a disturbing goal. We basically have spent 3 decades being told that everyone else is evil, but when you actually look at it… there’s no reason for me to lock my door. Not here in Wisconsin. Not now. In fact, keeping a more open door (both literally AND figuratively) would do quite a bit to probably help this country.
Remember, we’re all in this together.