Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN


March 20, 2013

Our ambivalence

Greensburg — I sat across the desk from a detective, who opened a pad of paper to take notes.  

“How can I help you, sir?”

“I’d like your help getting somebody out of my house.”

“So, this is a domestic dispute?”

“No,” I said. “Breaking and entering, home invasion, I’m not sure what you call it.”  

The detective sat upright. “The perp is there right now?”

“Oh, yeah. And has been for several days.”

The detective looked puzzled. “He broke in and just stayed there?”

“Yeah. We didn’t invite him. In fact, we lock all the doors at night, but one morning he just kind of showed up.”

“This isn’t some relative of yours or a family friend?”

“Never seen him before,” I said, and I handed the policeman some details about who it was.

“This guy – he’s from the poor side of town. Why is he in your house?”

“I have no idea.”

“So why didn’t you call us sooner?”

“I did. Nobody came.”

“What does he do at your house?”

“Oh, he helps a bit with the gardening and occasionally fixes us lunch.”

“Wait a minute. He breaks in and helps out around the house?”

“My wife’s secretly glad he’s doing our landscaping. Hard worker.”

“So what’s the problem?” The detective put down the pad of paper.

“He wasn’t invited. He never asked. Now he’s eating our food, taking showers, the whole bit. Yesterday, he asked me to pay for his schooling.”

“Well, sir, be reasonable. You do have more money than he does, right?”

“That’s not the point. Look, I have an adopted daughter to think about.”

“So you’ve let other unfamiliar people come live with you?”

“That’s different. We went through channels and followed the law. Our daughter belongs to us.”

“So, you’re a family that adopts strangers. Sounds like something to celebrate. Good for you, sir.”

“Isn’t it a crime what this guy did?”

“Technically, yeah. He broke the law. But seriously, he’s helping you out, and you have extra money to afford this.”

“Are you serious? How is my wealth even relevant? And…and…and what if his buddies decide to show up as well one day?”

“That sounds nice, reuniting them. Good for you.”

“No, I mean: they can’t all live with me.”

“Tell you what,” said the detective. “You figure out some way to give this guy a pathway to adoption, and maybe later we’ll build you a nice fence to keep others out. Unless of course they’re his friends.”

“It’s our house. We don’t want him there. It costs me extra to take care of him. If you won’t arrest him, will you at least come throw him out of my house and tell him to stay away?”

“I’m sorry, sir. We’re under budget here,” he replied. “And if you’re nice to him, he may do your lawn for cheap. Besides, you’re a house of adoptees.” The detective started fiddling with his desktop computer.

“Does that mean my family has to take just anyone who sneaks in under cover of darkness?”

“I’m sorry. Were you saying something?” He looked up from his computer. “I was learning how to operate drones from my desktop. Look at my monitor: I can see your house! Pretty cool, huh. Isn’t that your mail there on the table in the window? It has your name on it.”

“I don’t believe this,” I muttered as I stood to go.

“Maybe if I zoom in over by the kitchen I can see what you’re going to have for supper….”


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