Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see. –Confucius
It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I realize that I need to keep reminding myself not to judge something or someone by my tainted beliefs.
This is my thought today after confronting what I believed to be a thief sneaking around in my yard early this morning. And since I live in a very small, rural farm area where everyone knows everyone, these things do not generally happen here.
About a week ago, I was out of town when a suspected burglar broke into several places, including a truck and the small house of my sleeping tenants. It was about ten or eleven in the evening on a dark stormy night with the rain pouring down like crazy and flooding the street outside. Considering that we have recently had some good snowfall, and it is late November, I’m assuming it was crazy cold outside also.
According to a couple of neighbors accounts, ‘Manny,’ as he is known in this tiny, one horse Hispanic town had entered the gated and enclosed large community yard of several casitas that I manage and rent out. This yard is used mainly for gardening and animals and provides a back access to five separate units or ‘casitas’ here. Supposedly, Manny had approached one private yard, only to be turned aside by the barking dogs inside.
He then walked around or jumped a couple of fences and entered one tenants’ truck which was parked in the front driveway, and unlocked. Word from one neighbor was that he was ‘hot-wiring’ the truck, and that he had intended to steal that tenant’s outboard motor that was attached to his small boat outside. (This assumption was made and verified because Manny had left his jacket on top of the boat’s motor. And since Manny has a background as a talented mechanic, it would’ve been easy for him to highjack the truck. Thank God MY car was not there at the time)!
Well, supposedly, Manny’s attempt with the truck was interrupted (barking dogs? people’s voices?), and he left the truck and took off. Since his previous attempts at thievery had been foiled, Manny then turned to another neighbors house. Jumping the six foot secure fence, he then rummaged around the back of the house looking for a way to enter in the dark. Hearing the noises, the wife of the couple living there commented to her husband that she thought someone was outside and trying to break in. They were watching TV, and her husband at first did not believe her. Yet as the back kitchen door rattled again, he realized she was right, went to get his gun and a flashlight.
Opening the door, he barged outside and found Manny quickly walking away, towards the front of the property where a six foot gate secured the area. Recognizing the thief as Manny – someone he had known of for many years – my neighbor then demanded an explanation for why he was attempting to rob him and his wife. “What have we ever done to you?” “We used to give you our business, and this is how you repay us?” My neighbor was very indignant when he related this story to me. I could just imagine the scene as he related it to me. Manny cowered by the front gate while searching for a way to open it to escape. “How do you get out of here?” Manny stuttered to my neighbor.
“What are you doing here Manny!” “How did you get in here?” my neighbor queried.
“I fell asleep at the church, and I woke up in here.” “I don’t know.” Manny kept telling him.
“Don’t you play dumb with me you M>F!” “You obviously jumped my fence and were attempting to rob me!” “Maybe THIS will help you remember how you got in here!” And my neighbor lifted the gun he had been hiding and pointed it at Manny.
“You should have seen how quickly Manny jumped that gate,” my neighbor exclaimed. “He was just lucky that my wife was yelling for me not to shoot him!”
So what happened after this I asked him.
“Well, it turns out that my wife had called the police and that the dispatch office had recently received numerous calls about him breaking into various places.” “So they already had a policeman in the area, and they came around the corner and found him walking on the street.” “They arrested him and took him to jail.” “Good riddance!”
“Though, I know they won’t hold him!” My neighbors wife said with contempt. “The police never do their job!” “If someone goes to rob you or break into your house, they do nothing.” “Yet if you try to protect yourself or your property, YOU are the one prosecuted!”
It was a day or so later, when I was at our local community store and mentioned this fiasco to the owner. “I hope your tenant prosecutes him!” “He’s a bad man.” “He’s always stealing things, and he even stole things from the church!”
Reflecting on this, I thought how fortunate I was that nothing truly bad had happened, and that this man had ended up in jail!
So when I awoke at seven am this morning to the persistent barking of my dog, I was surprised to see a man sneaking through the community yard over by the tool shed.
“No.” “Surely that is not the same man!” I exclaimed to myself as I hurriedly shoved my feet into my boots, threw on my jacket and stuffed my hat down over my wild hair, and flew out the door into the freezing cold and snow.
Blinded by the glare of sun on snow, I reached into my pocket and grabbed my sunglasses and slid them on as I strode angrily towards the now quickly departing man. I caught up to him just as he opened the previously locked gate to make his exit.
“What do you think you are doing?” I exclaimed with anger. “And what is your name?”
“I’m Manny,” he said as he started to walk off.
“You are the one that broke in here a week ago!” “This is a private property.” “You can’t do this!” “It’s against the law!” “Don’t you ever come here again!”
Manny continued onwards down the road as I called the police dispatch and followed him to see what direction he headed. After only a few houses down, he sat on the front porch of an abandoned house and I quickly informed the dispatch as to his location.
An hour later, a policeman showed up and took my statement. Then he mentioned to me that he was the arresting officer from a week back, and that he had taken Manny in that night for mental evaluation. He also said that this man was homeless, had nowhere to live and no one to help him. The officer sadly proclaimed that the government system for dealing with such a man was proving hopeless. At which point, I angrily asserted that, “So we are to let a man do whatever he wants and break into places, since he is not in his ‘right mind?” “This is ridiculous!” At which point, the officer quickly agreed this was a problem.
It was several hours later, after the sun had thawed some of the snow and left the slick gooey mud to attach itself to my boots like glue, that I ventured out to double check my turkeys, ducks and chickens. It was then that I noticed…several places on the ground… that Manny had spread the cracked corn for my critters. He had gone to the toolshed, not to steal. In the midst of his own aloneness, possible hunger and cold…he had simply had the desire to bring some food and comfort to another.
As I thought about the warm roof over my head and the abundance of food in my house, and the promise of Thanksgiving dinner with friends tomorrow, I realized how easy it is to see the world through the eyes of our beliefs.
Cc Dana Hee, 2013
Dana is an Olympic Gold Medalist, Top Motivational Speaker, 3x Hall Of Fame Martial Artist, Award-Winning Stuntwoman (over 17 years stunt doubling the leading ladies in Block-Buster Films such as the Batman Movies, The Terminator films, Charlies Angels, Peacemaker, Alias and MUCH more). More importantly, she is a Life Survivalist whom endeavors to Inspire, Enlighten, and Elevate the hearts and minds of people around the world.
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Thank you for viewing my stories! Love and light to all! Dana Hee