A few weeks ago I saw something that positively enraged me. Whilst working at the computer I spotted the folk across the road leaving their house. They’re an elderly couple, a man of 94 and his wife who is 91. They were being picked up by the daughter-in-law so I knew they would be away for several hours.
During their absence a pair of window cleaners arrived. What a shame, I thought, they won’t get their back windows done.
Even as I thought it one of the men walked back to the van and fetched out a pair of stepladders and a long rod. These he positioned in front of the neighbour’s side gate. Grabbing the rod he climbed up, reached over the gate, and started hacking at the inside bolt.
I shot out of my house yelling ‘What on earth do you think you’re doing?’
The second guy asked what was wrong so I told him that people didn’t hack their way into other people’s property. ‘Well if we don’t,’ the second man said, ‘they don’t get their windows cleaned.’
‘What the hell do you think the bolt is for,’ I asked.
‘To protect their house,’ he said.
I asked the question again.
He looked quizzical.
‘TO STOP PEOPLE GETTING IN,’ shouted I.
While the discourse was going on the first guy went through the now open gate to get on with the task of cleaning the back windows. I was back home by the time he'd finished. I returned to my desk by the window and noticed that the neighbour's gate was locked by the same method it was opened … hacking at it with the long rod.
Cutting a long story short, after the event the neighbours were informed. They were furious. Apparently it had happened once before although they didn’t know how the men had got in. Consequently they cancelled their business with the cleaners and hired another chap.
As I said, this happened a few weeks ago. Today, while I was out, the old lady phoned and left a message. She said they were going away for three days and if I saw anything amiss at their house I was to ring the police and NOT challenge anyone whom I thought shouldn’t be there. She ended the message with ‘You must be careful, it’s dangerous to intervene.’
She’s right, of course, and I understand her reasoning. Isn’t it a shame that we can no longer stick up for friends and neighbours for fear that something will happen if we do. What sort of world are we living in these days?