The Bad Luck Blues

Ever have one of those days where nothing seems to go right?  Well my friend, Clare, has been having such a day, except her day’s lasted about a year. Yep, if you ask me, Clare has been having a prolonged case of the bad luck blues. Which is probably why I keep asking myself, Why do bad things happen to good people?

Clare deserves to win the lottery, or a round of Go Fish, to help shake away her bad luck blues.

Here’s where her bad luck streak started:  Last fall, after a night of partying and drinking with her buddies, Clare, feeling a little tipsy, decided to take a cab home.  Turns out the cab driver had friends in low places. As soon as the driver pulled up on Clare’s street, the cab was surrounded by miscreants with ammo.  It proved to be a rather harrowing moment for Clare, who cleverly escaped by jumping out of the car and making a mad dash for her apartment, whereupon she hid under the dining table.

Clare remained under the table while the gunfire ricocheted around her neighborhood. She even managed to call the police, that is, once she was able to pry apart her fingers, which had been tightly wrapped around her cell phone. When the police finally arrived, that’s where they found her–tucked underneath the table in a fetal position.  Way to go, Clare!

This episode was followed by a less terrifying one, when a lady with blue-haired dreadlocks, who clearly was not paying attention, drove her car smack into the door of Clare’s car, just as she was disembarking from the driver’s side. This knocked Clare for a loop and the car door to the ground.  As providence would have it, the dreadlock lady was not insured. Adding insult to injury, the entire door had to be replaced.

About two months after that, sometime in the middle of the night, a quiet, unassuming fellow ran into the other side of Clare’s car. Fortunately, he left a note. Unfortunately, the other side of the car had to be replaced, but fortunately, he was insured (Take that, dreadlock lady!).  Good news for Clare!

Several weeks later, on a dark and stormy night, Clare’s apartment was broken into and, among the things stolen were Clare’s jewelry, perfume, one of her stereo speakers, and all her craft supplies, right down to her knitting needles. Oh, and all of her makeup and electric toothbrush, too. Talk about a bizarro robbery! Was this the work of a 20-something woman, about to move out on her own? She must have been thinking,

“Why shop at Bed Bath & Beyond, when you can do one-stop shopping at Clare’s?”

Super-sleuth Clare later discovered a speaker, exactly like hers, for sale on Craig’s List. “Jackpot!” she cried, as she made contact with the seller to catch them at their own game. The police even helped set up a sting operation to get her goods back, but this turned out to be a false alarm, and Clare wasn’t able to recover any of her stuff. Disappointing? Yes, though I’m not really sure Clare wanted her toothbrush back.

Turns out, the robbers weren’t finished with Clare. Unbeknownst to her, they had one more thing of hers—a set of car keys.  Clare had not noticed the keys missing, so was caught unawares a few nights later when (you guessed it), they came back for the car.

Bad luck is supposed to come in three’s, but in Clare’s case, it’s coming in about three dozen’s, give or take a few. Many a friend has tried to tell Clare that it’s time to read the writing on the wall, and get the hell out of dodge. Either that, or pack up the rest of her belongings and leave them on the curb, so that the burglars can collect what they missed the first couple of times.

But Clare loves her neighborhood and its bohemian atmosphere, so she has no plans to budge. Through all of these frightful incidents, she’s remained good-natured and sweet as sugar snap peas in July.  She thinks this string of unfortunate incidents is a passing fancy, but I have two words for her: 

Neighborhood Watch!  (You can read about mine–its successes and failures, here).

So what do you think? Any advice for Clare? Can you top her run-in with the bad luck blues?

Neighborhood Watch—Failed!

I blew it! I might as well throw in the towel and turn in my badge. Yes, it’s true. I’m a failure at my neighborhood watch. Blame it on Daylight Savings. You know, that fall back, spring forward thing. This weekend, we all fell back and I’m not even sure if now this means that we’re on real time or not. Blame it on my friend, Evelyn, who had a big milestone birthday bash (though I won’t tell you which milestone). And, while you’re at it, might as well blame it on me having too much to drink at said party. I can’t help it if I’m a sucker for Mojitos and I drank one!

One of the cops making the arrest looked like Harrison Ford, probably in his Indiana Jones days.

Bottom line, when I should have been watching my neighborhood, I was slacking—blissfully asleep at 1:37 a.m. Sunday morning. Which is when, according to my neighbor, Tony, the police descended on our complex—with bullhorns, I might add—and probably guns at the ready, to arrest a woman. Tall, mid-forties blonde, hair disheveled. But who can blame her at 1:37 a.m.? Wow, unlike me, Tony was really paying attention. He saw it all because he was awoken and he’s not even on my neighborhood watch!

Apparently, according to Tony, there was a warrant out for this woman’s arrest. And I missed it! I bet there were even helicopters hovering overhead and I missed it! Maybe even military copters, too. Worse yet, one of the cops might have been Harrison Ford, or at least looked like the actor, while the other looked like one of the Baldwin’s. And I missed it! If you ask me, Harrison Ford at any age is a keeper!

When the police used their bullhorns to demand that the woman come out of her home, she must have wished she’d known she would be brought to justice by Officer Ford and one of the Baldwin’s. She probably wished she’d been given time to put on some makeup and comb out her “bed” hair. That’s what I would’ve done. Which just goes to show you, my mother was always right when she said, “Never go to bed in ratty pajamas. You never know who’s going to see you in them.” I bet she wasn’t even thinking of Harrison Ford.

My chance to step up and I missed it. Simply because I slept through it! I could have helped the police and brought out my own bullhorn—which I purchased months ago, waiting for such an opportunity as this one. I could have used it to let the police know that they could count on me. I’d say to the Harrison Ford cop, “What’s the trouble, officer?” and “10-4,” when he replied. I would have let him know that the assailant—or whatever they were calling her—had never before been seen in this vicinity (at least that’s what yet another neighbor swore to me). And I’d assure him, that had I known she was wanted by the law, I personally would have called the police right away.

But I couldn’t do these things because I was asleep at the switch. Conked out at the wheel. Me, who wakes up at the sound of rain. And what about my dog, Henry? What’s his excuse? He didn’t awaken either! Like Lassie, he could have barked to warn me that there was trouble afoot. Some watchdog.

What else is going on in my community while I’m sleeping? What other crimes are happening right under my unaware nose? Sigh. I haven’t a clue. But one thing’s clear. My neighborhood watch is doomed.

Neighborhood Watch

I am part of a neighborhood watch. Ok, full disclosure: It’s just a neighborhood watch of one, namely, me. But it’s a job I take seriously. Keeping my eyes peeled, always alert for strange noises and questionable behavior, with my cell phone at the ready to call the police, if warranted. After all, desperate times call for desperate measures. And even though my neighborhood is what the police call “safe,” I feel it’s best to be prepared because you just never know.

Luckily for me, I live in a townhome that pretty much has an unobstructed view. So from my second story home office I can see the entire parking lot as well as the comings and goings of my alleged neighbors.

The view that set my neighborhood watch in motion

It’s like I’m Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” only my leg isn’t in a cast and I hope to never witness a murder.

When I’m on my watch, I look around at my neighbors and find quite a few that look a bit suspicious, particularly the younger ones heading off to school each morning, with their dazed looks and oversized backpacks. What’s in those backpacks anyway? Hmmm…I also can see if someone litters in the parking lot (major pet peeve) or stores their trash container in their patio instead of in their garage where it’s supposed to be, according to our 1,050-page Homeowners’ Association rules and regulations. For years, I’ve been noting who is noncompliant and I send emails to the property manager with my full report. They should give me a badge.

The police in my community hold quarterly meetings at the recreation center and I attend every one of them. They want to be sure folks like me know the dangers that could be lurking behind every shrub and every corner. They tell us how we should never leave our downstairs windows open when we’re not home, and that we shouldn’t leave any valuables visible in the car where potential thieves can be tempted by them. I am also on the police listserv so that every time a law is broken in a two-mile radius of my home, I receive an email describing the incident. I find this information to be particularly helpful as I’m nosy by nature and need to know about every law that is broken here. So far, most of the law breaking has to do with not coming to a full stop at the stop sign and on occasion, auto break-ins. Last year, we had a report of a truancy and every once in a while some teenager is picked up for breaking curfew, which is 10:00 p.m., and worse, for possession of narcotics.

Once, a young man ran across the second story ledge of my building. A neighbor, a single mom only a few years younger than me, yelled,

“Monica, help! I’m being robbed!”

Immediately, my neighborhood watch jumped into action. If I had a fire station pole in my home office, I would’ve slid down the pole—stat. This was urgent, after all. Instead, I ran down the stairs and scurried outside. Was I too late to catch the little culprit? No. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him rounding the mailboxes and in a flash I was hot on his trail. Of course, that’s when it hit me: why was I chasing after a would-be thief or maybe worse–possibly an assassin for hire? Wouldn’t it be just easier to call 9-1-1? While I mulled this in my head, the wrongdoer made a clean getaway. I called the police to let them know about the perpetrator. Hours later, I would learn that he wasn’t a perpetrator at all, but the secret boyfriend of my neighbor’s teen daughter. Of course, now that the cat was out of the bag, he’d have to make a full confession—to the girl’s mom.

My Cavalier is not cut out to be a watch dog.

Yep, I feel it’s my job to know it all, so that I can better protect my loved ones, which these days amounts to protecting my dog, Henry. I know what you’re thinking, Henry should be protecting me, but he’s a Cavalier and that means he doesn’t care and he certainly doesn’t care about my neighborhood watch. But to me, being a good citizen, well, that is just part of my job. Speaking of which, break’s over. Time to get back to my neighborhood watch.