Unwelcome visitors bring unexpected lessons…

On the 11 July I got a phone call at work from my neighbour. I had been burgled.

On Wednesday morning, as usual I went to work, but towards the end of the morning my neighbour rang the office. It took a while to locate me as I was in a training session for one of the online systems and for a change, had neither of my phones with me. When the message finally made its way to me,  I called her back. My neighbour on the other side had been going out for a walk and saw my front door was wide open. One of the cats was sitting in the doorway…

He went and called Ann to check what was going on. When they checked the house, they discovered a broken window at the back of the house. Ann called me, and when she couldn’t get me immediately, she called the police. Eventually she had located me at work. When I got off the phone, I was in shock…worried about the cats, and wondering what else was going to go wrong.

My previous post outlines the previous six months of dealing with both family and close friends being very sick. In the space of ten days, all three people passed away.  One of the things I have grown to realise over the past few years is how strong I am. In the moments, however, when something bad happens (however major or minor) I usually feel a wave of “why me?” roll through me. Okay, and in this instance I admit…they may have elicited a “what else could fucking go wrong? give me a break!” out loud. In the office. Rather loudly.

I work with lovely people who were very concerned – was I okay to drive? Could they do anything to help? I asked one person to walk me to my car and then I drove home…my mind going back and forwards…concentrating on driving but not speeding. And worrying whether the cats had gotten out and if my house had been emptied or trashed. I don’t remember a lot of the drive. I remember going into the house and checking for both cats. And I felt myself finally exhale as I saw both of them…in the normal position for unhappy cats. One on my bed…one in my bed. Ember’s default position is under the doona when scared or there are strangers around. My neighbour Ann had been so worried that she hadn’t realised there was a cat-shaped lump in the bed.

Ann had already called the police, so I quickly looked around. I was careful not to touch anything (I had been burgled before – eight years earlier). Whoever had broken in had smashed the window in the guest bedroom at the back of the house. There was glass everywhere. I was calmer once I’d realised that the cats were both okay and that they hadn’t trashed the house.

Ann was kind enough to stay with me – while the policewoman came and fingerprinted and took her photographs. I slowly started to see what was missing…my camera, alcohol, money tins, chocolate…and toothpaste. And strangely what was still there…my laptop, my jewellery, the cash for the verandah roof that was in an envelope in the kitchen. There were no fingerprints. Whoever it was had been through the wardrobe, my drawers, the fridge and freezer and some of the kitchen cupboards. The consensus was that it was kids, probably teenagers on school holidays.

I called the insurance company to report it and they were very quick at organising the glass repairer. The woman I spoke to also thought it was kids. I gave her a run down on what had been taken and she explained that I had to pay the glass repair guy and they would reimburse anything over my excess. She also explained that my “no-claims bonus” would go down to 15% discount instead of 25%. Great!

I tidied up, Ann went off to run an errand with another neighbour (and to get me a new toothbrush and toothpaste), and I swore a little under my breath. For a little while, it felt strange because I kept finding things missing – the cans of Coke in the fridge at first, later that night I realised the bottle of single malt Scotch was gone. I couldn’t really bring myself to straighten the drawers etc. I waited for the glass repairman and patted the cats, then picked up glass.

I ditched the doona and bedding. Just threw them out. Glass splinters and fingerprint dust begone. My neighbour Ann lent me a big light for outside and I waited for the glass repairer to show up. When he did he was quick, replaced the glass and was gone in an hour. I had a glass of wine and watched “Mrs Brown’s Boys” to unwind, but I slept with the light on.

Sometimes, a couple of weeks later, I still do. It’s unnerving to know a complete stranger (or two) has been in your space. I feel violated and helpless. While I got things done and dealt with what I had to on the day it happened, the next day I was a bit shell-shocked. Not a lot, just unfocused as the adrenalin wore off. When it sunk in that I would have to go through everything and straighten it out. Slowly I did, still sleeping with the light on for a few nights. The insurance company tried to rush me to finalise the claim, but I had to track down the amount for the camera. While I was doing that and reorganising the drawers I realised my travel wallet was gone too.

So now…weeks later…here I am. I’ve cleaned and sorted. Written up my insurance claim/police report to send in tomorrow from the office. I’ve realised a few things…it wasn’t personal. There is a lot of wisdom in that adage – “Don’t take anything personally”. The burglar/s didn’t target me specifically. And they won’t be back. “Things” are replaceable…I am insured and in the end, it is just stuff. Attitude is everything…bad things happen, all the time and to good people. You have to focus on the positive – cats are well, I am insured and I have fantastic neighbours.

And maybe the most important lesson – if you don’t call your parents because you don’t want to upset them, you still get in trouble…

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