Mâvarin Karen had an unfortunate experience with plagiarism recently, and that inspired her question for the Weekend Assignment:
Weekend Assignment #238: Tell us of a time you’ve been ripped off – that is, stolen from or cheated in some way.
I really didn’t intend to do this assignment, but one of the incidents Mike mentioned in his response prompted a recollection I thought I’d share – a short story about a very small-time, petty crime.
First Husband finished his Ph.D. work at Cornell in the fall of 1991, and had a faculty appointment lined up at a small college in Memphis that he had arranged to start in January. We decided to make the move south in November so we’d have a little time to get acclimated.
The Saturday night before we left Ithaca, I went to see a friend of mine perform in a concert downtown, and it was fairly late when it ended. We lived in university housing, and due to the hour, I was unable to get a parking place near our apartment. I parked halfway to the other side of the complex and made my sleepy way home.
The next morning we went out to the car to leave for church (I did do that regularly for a number of years) and discovered that I must have been so sleepy I had forgotten to lock the car doors – and apparently someone had noticed. However, while I had made breaking into the car easy for them, they must have gotten frustrated once they actually got inside, since they were unable to dislodge the car stereo. They were successful in stealing the knobs off it, though. They had also been looking for loose change in the ashtray, which they had tossed onto the car floor in disgust that it was empty. The little drawer to the left of the steering wheel, which was where we actually DID keep coins, was undisturbed.
This definitely qualified as an “annoyance crime” more than anything else – but for the record, finding replacement knobs for a car stereo was a royal pain in 1991; it might be easier in the Internet age. It was actually rather comical how little the bandits had gotten for their efforts. In a reference to my son’s favorite movie at the time (he was seven), I suggested that the break-in was perpetrated by the burglars from Home Alone.
I suspect most people don’t have much fun talking about their experiences with being cheated, robbed, or otherwise ripped off, and if I didn’t have this little anecdote to tell, I wouldn’t either. What about you?