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FelonyNovember 4, 2004

I am terribly grumpy. And it's not just because of who our president will continue to be. (That couldn't be called grumpy, anyway. That's more like shell-shocked. Despondent.) I am not feeling eloquent enough to even try to address that. Go read Lala's take. I may be prejudiced, but I don't think that's why it made me feel a tiny bit better somehow.

I'm just grumpy because of a carpet cleaner. I had a company send a guy out to clean the one carpet in my old apartment. He was fine, and did an okay job. He left his file folder in my apartment, and called to ask when he could get it back. When I got the message, I was on the way to drop Bethany at the airport, and then I had to go to work. I told him I'd go to the old place at five in the morning after work, get the folder and leave it on the front porch. He could come pick it up any time after that. He said that was all right.

I got off work yesterday at five. I'd been up at that point for twenty-two hours. I got to my old apartment. Bethany had confirmed that she had seen the folder in my place when we had left, but she had assumed it was mine and hadn't said anything about it.

The folder was nowhere to be found. I thought, huh. It must be somewhere else. I was cleaning the tub when he had me sign the charge slip: maybe he had left it in the bathroom. I checked. Nope, no file folder, but the window was open, the sill was filthy, and the screen was on upside down and partially open. I then checked the living room -- the sliding glass door was unlocked, and the back gate was standing wide open.

Erg.

Now. Okay. I wasn't technically living there anymore, and the only thing missing was his file folder. I can understand the motivation. Perhaps he was scared of getting in trouble at work if he didn't have his files. But it was a major lapse in good judgment, since now he's REALLY going to be in trouble.

And therein lies my Rachaelish problem. I called the cops and had them make an incident card. This is documentation, but less formal than a report. I didn't want to press felony burglary charges against the guy, since, as stated, I could understand the motivation and no damage was done.

But what I wanted was an apology from him. (I think I was a little naive about that -- someone who breaks in doesn't normally apologize later.) And not having to pay the carpet cleaning bill would have been nice, too. I was furious that someone had entered my old home (still full of the stuff that I'm not sure what to do with) without my permission, through the bathroom window. So I called his company and told them what had happened.

The manager was horrible. I really think she could have made it all go away by saying, "I'm so sorry. We'll figure out what went wrong, and we'll get back to you. I'm sure there's an explanation. But in the meantime, I'm so sorry."

Instead, she said, "So what you're saying to meeeee.... [Long, acrid pause.] Lemme get this straight. Someone broke into your house. And the only thing stolen was the file folder YOU say he left in your house."

"HE said he left it in my house."

"Whatever. What makes you think it was our employee?"

Golly, I don't know. It's true, there might be a horrible Oakland criminal on the loose who ransacks homes for cruddy-looking old file folders. Terrifying, isn't it? Fer fuck's sake. I believe that's just about what I told her, too (although I didn't swear). She said the owner would call me. He never did.

The cleaner dude, however, did call me. And that just made it worse. I answered, mistake number one. I should have let it go to voice mail. Mistake number two, I asked to know what he had been thinking, breaking into my home. He pled his innocence so well that I actually almost fell for it. He sounded so sad and offended that I would consider him able to commit such a crime that I got off the phone and drove to my old place to see if the files had fallen behind the bookcase. Of course, they hadn't. Then I just felt stupid. And taken.

But now my main problem is guilt. And while I know you'll all sigh and send me comments telling me I've done the right thing, really I'm not sure that I have. There was no damage to my place. He probably considered it vacant. He took nothing but his own property. Had he called me and said that it was imperative that he get his files back or his boss would kill him, I can see myself telling him to try to break in. Now he might lose his job, and I'm picturing him with four small kids in dirty clothes, and a crying wife who has to now work 19-hour days instead of the 14-hour ones she's been doing recently. Plus, he's sober and this will depress him enough to fall off the wagon onto a four-day binge. And his sick mother needs the operation he's been saving for. And his brother just died, leaving him responsible for his widow and nine more children.

You know, something like that.

It galls me that he lied to me, baldly, on the phone. It pisses me off that he broke into my place. But in the larger scheme, this doesn't really matter, and perhaps I just made someone's life really rough, for very little reason, because I was too tired to really think it through before making phone calls. I think that's what's eating me up.

Bah. Blerg. Ne'er a dull moment, nosireejimbobarooney. Bleha. (Try it, it's much more effective than a simple bleah.) Now, to get in my (MY) bathtub and swim off the grumps. My house! Oh! Yay!

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Comments

Nah. You're good. Lying & taking the expedient way out = bad karma. What goes around, comes around and *surprise* it hit him in the ass. You = nothing to do with it.

Just let it go. It's about HIM not you. Get on with enjoying your new place. Life is good.

I can see why you would feel bad. I really do, because it happends to me all the time. Someone does you wrong and you feel bad for "defending" yourself.

But, I would try to remember that he did BREAK INTO A HOUSE. Wether someone is living there or not, it's still a crime. I cannot imagine a situation where that would be seen as the apropriate thing to do. Well, maybe if the folder contained one million dollars... and the house was burning... Yes, I'd go in too. But what he did was wrong. (In my opinion anyway)

I'm also very sad that the lady was rude to you. Manager sometimes take things so personal! So, don't worry about it. You did good! :)

Also, my warmest deepest toughts are with you regarding the elections. I'm in Canada, so maybe it doesn't affect me as much, but still. I could feel your contry leaning more and more to the right with every vote going to Bush. It broke my heart.

Kuddos on your new place. I'm green with envy! :)

Julie (sorry for the long comment :) )

In a weird way, you may be doing him a favor. After all, in your case, nothing was taken except for the file folder. But what if this happens again and he had gotten away with it? He might be tempted to help himself to something else, and get into REAL trouble. Plus, if he thought your place was vacant and it would be no big deal, he could have asked... "hey, this is a huge deal - mind if I swing by and see if a window is open or something?" It would still be strange - someone asking to break into your place - but better than you finding out later. Plus, he made you waste your time searching for the folder he stole back... and then lied about it!

Moral of the story - no guilt for Rachael. Take a nice long bubble bath in your fabulous new place and let judgment-impaired carpet guy reap the "benefits" of his own "excellent" judgment. :)

I wouldn't worry about his poor, underfed dozen kids and overworked wife, because it sounds like his boss is too dumb to understand the situation to fire him. And for all we know, she could've told him to go back and get it.

I think you did the right thing and if I were you I would be ringing the owner of the company and putting in a formal complaint to them about the Manager and the Employee. If they work in a field where they serve customers they should damn well learn how to treat people nicely and if they can't they need to find a new job. Plus, having left your door and window vulnerable some idiot could have entered and spray painted the place, smashed anything smashable and generally screwed the whole place up.

Sometimes getting angry and going with it is totally the right thing to do. Hope you get free carpet cleaning for life! :o)

Anna

Private property is private property and should be respected as such, (semi) vacant or not. Even if all he took was his property, he trespassed to do it; not to mention that he could have potentially damaged the bathroom window getting in. Nope, you did the right thing. And it doesn't sound like his boss cares enough to even reprimand him about it, so don't beat yourself up about ruining his life.

Much more importantly, you have a new, gorgeous home to enjoy! Did you ever get any George offshoots so you can grow your own monster aloe?

I just want to offer my total support for your initial judgements and I would definitely encourage you to pursue the issue. It makes no difference what his story is, or what you project it to be. He didn't consider you, I can assure you. Too often we let ourselves be victims because too often we are told, as women, to be quiet, pretty, available, non confrontational, bla bla bla, you know. They made an example out of Martha!

In my opinion, he does not deserve nor does he require your compassion. It is not cold blooded nor shrewish, nor any of the lovely comments associated with feminine assertiveness, it is your duty to yourself to stand up and scream.
Don't make excuses, don't let it eat you up. You are the one who was wronged. It is not your business to project into his story, whatever it is it is wrong.
boo hoo hoo to him
YOU GO GIRL

Oh, you Cancer you! We Cancer type people have to remember that when loosed moral people do wrong things that bring consequences upon themselves, it is their fault, not the fault of the person to whom the wrong was done for pursuing the right avenue, which may or may not cause the loosed moral person the consequences. Boy, talk about a long, convoluted statement! But, we Cancers understand, I hope!

Sigh. the election. the rain. new house. mortgage. Mr. BreakandEnter. Nasty supervisor of Mr B&E. You did the right thing. Don't let his mistake become your guilt. Don't do it....

These is some stressful times.Dive into that tub with your goggles and rubber duck.

Being an obsessive CSI and Law and Order watcher, I just have one question. Did they lift any fingerprints from the window screen frame? If the carpet company is bonded (and if they are in someone's home they should be), then this guy's prints are probably on file. And if all he did was clean the carpet his prints have no business being on your bathroom window screen or sliding door lock. If you plan to pursue this matter, that might be a good thing to bring up. If he had no qualms about breaking into your place, and then easily lied about it, chances are he's done it before and will do it again. And I sure wouldn't want that company anywhere near my house! I think you deserve a bubble bath with double the bubbles for being "Rachael- defender of truth and justice and knitter of fantastic cabled sweaters". (Too bad the desk of doom didn't get him. Now that would be poetic justice!)

Oh, sweetie. You did absolutely nothing to him; he did it to himself. If his boss was going to KILL him for not having the folder (and if his wife was going to have to work 19 hours/day to feed their kids), he should have been a little more responsible with the things that secure his employment. You done good, kid. Go fill that tub with bubbles, and grab a glass of wine while you're at it. Enjoy!

You made arrangements to get him the file folder, which HE forgot in your place; he agrees to the arrangements; he breaks into your house. The guy is clearly an idiot. It's even against the law to "trespass" onto a construction site, so breaking into your apartment? Also, he KNEW you weren't going to be there, so his actions were deliberate. You did the right thing, and maybe when we all gather to beat up the car of your upstairs neighbor's boyfriend, we can also pummel this carpet cleaning clown (and the rest of his family). Geez, I have been so violent lately ...

Dude, you must be ovulating or something to get all that out of his weaselly phone call. Good thing you're a novelist! I think my sister is right, let it go, he'll get his. If you ever see him again, put a ping pong ball in his gas tank to have the car stall out randomly. Just enjoy your beautiful new to you house and can highly recommend the Geyer Peak Zinfandel to ease the schpukkus.

Surely some of those kids are old enough to work...

Another Cancer agreeing with Laura!

My opinion: if this happened to me, I'd feel the same, and for no good reason. I'd probably not have gone as far as the police, but for just the same reason that you now feel guilty. Why's it easy to see the bigger picture when it's someone else? In my case at least, because there is no bigger picture where I'm involved. All problems in the world are my fault, somehow, because I ought to be as omnipotent as I feel, and at the same time I overcompensate for the massive ego by not intruding into the run of events that other people involve me in. I.e. don't feel guilty. You might not want the stuff you've temporarily left in your old place but he doesn't know that... he left an empty flat of stuff open to (other) intruders. His manager sounds like a bitch. Maybe working for her is his punishment. Maybe she's his mother!
And your bath is like the one I inherited.. I find the only problem with sitting in a really cool bath is you can't see how cool it is when you're in it.

Fi

I know how you feel, I get the same way. It can be very hard to just let it go and let someone else deal with what's really their problem when you feel like you could have handled it differently. But it is his problem (if the guy's going to break into someone's home for a file folder he definitely has a problem) and you handled it just perfectly, so enjoy your bath and YOUR VERY OWN HOME! Can't wait to see the new place!

Oh...the other thing. Aren't you allowed to rip someone limb from limb if you catch them invading your privacy in America? I like that. I hate capital punishment, I hate all the I'm-a-hunter-and-a-Christian-and-I-like-to-see-things-getting-killed-unless-it's-still-in-the-amoebic-phase-and-then-it's-far-more-important-than-its mother's-life-and-let's-torture-the-queers nonsense but it's good to be able to rely on privacy. It's not the loss of material wealth so much as the arrogant invasiveness of intruders.
Is there a word limit for comments?
Fi

These comments are misattributed!
Fi

Rachel, your life is so exciting at the moment, in positive as well in a negative sense. Yet you manage to be brilliant, witty and show so intelligent reactions. I admire you for this.

Bad behavior is bad behavior - and bad business. I doubt you'll ever recommend their company to your friends, right? (Maybe just to Republicans ;-) Pleease don't beat yourself up because of **their** stupidity. It's *so* not worth it!

I think you did the right thing. It doesn't seem like anything will come of it (him getting fired) so no guilt for you - and maybe he'll think twice next time (or maybe he'll remember his stupid folder!)

My story: My DH dropped his cellphone in a parking lot of a restaurant. Someone picked it up. Rather than turning it in (because it was Obviously someone else's) they decided they should start using it. DUH. I tracked them down by the numbers they had been calling and sent the police over there. They didn't steal it, but they were obviously using a phone that was someone else's property. They "said" they threw it away (yeah, right); and we had to buy a new phone.

Sometimes people's kindness suprises you, and sometime's people's stupidity does.

Here, I think this will help you understand why what he did was bad: What if you were still keeping your cats at your old place while you were in the process of moving, and one of them got out of the windows he left open and you never saw him/her again? It was a dangerous and stupid thing that he did. You were right to be mad.

Plus, it drives me mad when women start second-guessing their correctly placed anger. If you had been a dude, I suspect you would have been All Over the company and All Over the guy, with nary an apology. In fact, the words "lawyer" and "lawsuit" would most likely have been mentioned.

I just feel frustrated for you. It's like your being punished three, no, four times, for something you didn't do: Once, by the act of his breaking in; secondly, by the business homeowner dissing you; thirdly, by the man dissing you; and, fourthly, by you dissing yourself.

Hugs, Rach. Hope this all blows over. I know, go sit in your tub for a while. You'll feel better.

This is a gentle, Christian & conservative girl here: I'm grieved at the comments of Fi. I don't hunt and I don't like to see anyone or anything suffer in any way. I enjoy Rachel's blog & her girlfriend's blog for their wit, cleverness and skillful knitting. It's really not fair to color all conservative people with the same brush that touches brutal, evil people. As Rachael would say: "mwa!"

Break and Enter is Break and Enter.
Everyone else is right to say he's probably done this before and will do it again unless there are consequences.
What if you had been spending One Last Night on the floor of your old living room?
As well, he left the place unsecured - and you may have been legally responsible for any damages.
I wouldn't let this drop, but then again I've been dealing with a lot of bad business behaviour recently and thoughts are starting to run to violent solutions.
And he LIED!
Nah, you're the good one in this whole mess.
Happy House!

I'm a lurker : ) but I have to say this .... first off, the idiot seller who wouldn't let you into your own home, and now, the idiot carpet cleaner who breaks into your apartment and then lies about it! So depressing. What's wrong with people these days? Love your blog and your great attitude!

Rachael, ease up. First of all, you have a right to be ticked. He left the place open. Everyone gave you the brush off. However, an incident card and a complaint will not get anyone prosecuted or fired. You have a perfect right to now drop a line to the owner. It may not get you anything, but it'll make the owner, supervisor, and employee take notice and no one will be fired unless they were going to be anyways.

It's not wrong to call people on their crap. Someone was hideously rude to me at a gym I used to use. It was so awful I couldn't go back despite pressing therapy needs. I wrote a complaint letter, heard nothing. Well, four months later I'm going back. I need that gym. Called to register for a class, she recognized my voice (I think), and had another clerk finish the call. I think I got her. Point is complaints work even if nothing official happens.

I too think you should be calling the owner of the company. Whether or not he stole anything, he still broke in. Crime. Manager - idiot. Cleaner - not only criminal, but manipulative as well. Don't feel sorry for him - that's what he's trying for, so you don't push this any farther. Push.

Rachael, I'm working hard on developing an extra-strength Jackalope Repellent. Once it's done, I'll send you a free year's supply.

Enjoy that bath.

I knew the story already and STILL I was gripped by the narrative. What are you, some kinda writer or something?

You know my thoughts on the issue, and they've been admirably echoed here. I am particularly fond of Ryan right now for calling out the second-guessing of anger, and of Silvia for using the word "schpukkus." I don't even care if it's not really a word. I love it.

To the upset Christian lady,
When I was watching the results come in, the BBC interviewer asked a man-on-the-street who he voted for and why. He said 'Bush! I'm a hunter and Christian!' I thought the implied association of the two was depressingly funny. I know not all Christians are frothing at the mouth; just some. Religion is only relevant to barbarianism when barbarians claim it's their Christianity which prompts them to be the way they are.
I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings.

Fi

Rachael, Rachael, Rachael... bless your sweet heart, but really!! He broke into your house!! And then left the place open! Illegal, immoral, and just plain stupid. You were easy on him. I'd call again to speak with the owner and mention that if you don't hear from him/her quickly, your next call will be to the Better Business Bureau and Channel 7!!
P.S. I'm a Scorpio, can you tell?:)

um, you told him you were going there at 5AM to get his stupid folder and when you got there he had already broken in? I say this could have been much much worse, and you absolutely did the right thing by filing a report. Who knows what felony might be committed the NEXT time he breaks in and lies about it?
Which pretty much sums up my grumpy attitude about politics as well.
grrrrrrr.
Enjoy the New House! You have earned it.

You are not responsible for this person. He is responsible for himself. He made an error in judgment, not you. You should erase all guilty feelings with respect to this from your mind. :)

What everybody else said. AND... your name is still on the lease (until Lala puts HERS there instead!), which leaves you financially responsible for anything that happens in the apartment. So, not only did he break the law, he put you in a tenuous position vis-a-vis your landlord and your subletting the place.

I think the fingerprint suggestion is brilliant, because it would allow you to prove to both yourself AND whomever else needs convincing that the jerk indeed B'd and E'd.

I love that you're such a good-hearted and considerate soul, Rachaelove. In my current post-election despondency, that brings my heart a smile.

Dont'cha hate it when someone else does something nasty and YOU feel bad for it?? Me too.. But really, you did good and I hope you forget about it. No need to feel badly. Now go get in that bubble bath, light a few candles, pour some wine and RELAX ... :)

Just reading over your comments, which I did not do before I left mine. Isn't it sweet that so many suggested a bath in your new tub? We know and like you (really like you!) Rachael! Let it go.. take a deep breath and forget about it. And get in that bath ;)

Rachael, Ryan will tell you I'm very black and white when it comes to these situations. Wrong is wrong. The guy totally broke the law whether you live there or not. Don't feel guilty at all about your actions. The guy needs to be taken to the nearest precinct and have the cops scare him a little. The owner of the company needs to be told--and hey, there's always the Better Business Bureau. Small companies such as carpet cleaners usually take the BBB stuff pretty seriously and are quite often members--t's a marketing tool. The last thing they want is a bad mark from BBB. NO GUILT! Take a bubblebath, pet your kitties and enjoy your new digs! ;-)

TMK

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.

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