To whom it may concern,
I’ve had everything imaginable stolen from me at one point. My pride, my self-respect and my heart have all but been lost at one time or another. Usually I can trace the reasons for their disappearance and piece together the puzzle, but it’s the little things you’ve taken or have refused to take from me that seem to annoy me the most and often leave me with the biggest sense of bewilderment.
Over the years I have had the privilege of living in a number of uniquely charming apartments, as you well know. It may come as no surprise that the few apartments I’ve had located on the ground floor of century-old homes in the heart of the city’s downtown district have been my favourites. Whether they had three short steps to sit on with enough room to only hold my butt and a cup of coffee, or a welcoming stoop large enough to have friends over for a BBQ and watch passersby, they’ve all been great. You know. You’ve seen them. One thing I’ve learned though, whether I have a stoop or a step, you will at some point choose to explore it and take what you need when I’m not around.
The needs of others have long been fed by the contents of my various front porches over the years, but in this situation maybe need is the wrong word. The couple who come by on Wednesday evenings with their shopping cart to collect my bottles and cans do so because they need to. You, I’m not so sure of. I mean, who really needs a plastic flower pot at two in the morning? And does anyone really need one cushion from a set of four matching patio chairs? Whether you needed the single cushion in question or not, I appreciate the fact that you were understanding enough of the inconvenience they were causing me to leave the other three cushions behind for my continued enjoyment, but that still doesn’t make it right. It might not have hurt as much if you’d have just taken the whole chair, cushion and all. That way people don’t have to fight over who sits where when I have guests over. On the other hand, it does provide me with an interesting story to kick off an evening’s conversation. I’m not thanking you. I’m just trying to make sense here.
I can understand you stealing my bicycle. A bike is a great tool and I think anyone who doesn’t have one really should. Bikes are a convenient way to get around the city’s downtown without having to worry about parking metres or missing out on the last granny space in the grocery store parking lot. What I don’t understand is why you’d cut through my bike lock and then take the broken, sawed through pieces with you when you left. If you’re going to steal a person’s main source of getting around, are you really that concerned with leaving a little mess behind? I guess it makes sense if you chewed through the chain and were afraid of leaving DNA behind or something, but I doubt that was the case.
I don’t think I’ll every really understand you completely. Come to think of it, maybe your theft of my bike was kind of my fault. If it was, I’m sorry to put you in that position. I mean, I did regularly chain it to the same fire escape for nearly two years. Although I used it during most days, leaving it out at night probably just taunted you. That wasn’t my intention. I just figured that since it was a good location facing the street, it would be a safe place for my bike to live when not in use. I suppose I should have known better. When you threw that rum bottle through the back window of my car, you proved to me that a street view was not your concern.
Lately, I’ve been trying to help you. That copy of Entering Adulthood was supposed to be a gift for you but you never took it. Instead, you took my broom to the opposite side of the street and tossed it up onto a large elm tree branch, just out of reach. Now I have to look at it every time I sit outside.
And that brochure for the YMCA’s yoga classes? That was for you as well. When I woke to find it gone, I was happy. I was almost proud of you for a moment until I found it stuffed into the end of my car’s tailpipe along with an apple core and a plastic straw. Thanks?
It’s not like you’re Santa Claus. I can’t keep leaving you treats or gifts, especially if you’re not going to take them. I know it’s just a matter of time before you get a craving for a pair of recycling boxes and a can of cigarette butts. I’m almost amazed they’ve lasted on my porch as long as they have. And while I don’t understand what you choose, how you choose and when you decide to choose what it is you choose, I’ve come to accept it.
I know you probably won’t read this letter. If you take it, there’s a better chance you’ll soak it in a puddle and paste it to my window like you did with those Wal-Mart flyers last year. I understand that. But I also understand that people change. I’m hoping someday you will too.