WHY IS MY OFFICE LIGHT ON?
Last Monday at 1:00 I came in from the garage before my husband, and had barely registered the fact that, for some ridiculous reason, I had left my office light on when, right behind me, John said, “The office light is on.”
I put an armload of grocery bags on the floor and headed for my office, feeling really stupid and a bit bewildered. I never go off leaving office lights on, and as for the ceiling light–with its expensive and hard-to-find bulbs? Make that double never. But, it seemed (impossibly), I done it anyway.
I walked past the bedroom hall, noticing the floor there only briefly, went in the office, turned off the light. Only then did the hall floor register. A single winter glove lay on blue carpet.
“John, someone has been here,” I said, surprised at how calm, cool, and collected I felt.
At first glance, there were few signs we had had “The Visitor.” But, as we began to search, signs of the intrusion were everywhere. Most drawers had been tumbled and then closed, but three were such a mess they wouldn’t close. My jewelry chest was emptied on top of my dresser. Two windows were partly open. Two doors had been unlocked, one was pulled slightly open. (Deputies said the windows had probably been open so The Visitor could hear our car coming down the unpaved lane.) Drawers in my closet/dressing room, including those holding costume jewelry, were disturbed–you could see the mess through the clear plastic fronts. I still haven’t found anything missing there.
After I called the sheriff’s office for our county, we began a cautious and more careful walk-through survey while we waited for deputies. John and I didn’t talk much, just called out a list of missing items or disturbances as we found them.
John: (From his office upstairs.) “My Nook Tablet is gone, and my bag of cash for book sales. It had $100 in it. The laptop is here, though.”
Radine: “Glassware is tumbled out of the cabinet in the kitchen. Nothing broken.
John: “The gold ring with my initials that you gave me.”
Radine: “They didn’t take the gold charm bracelet I left on the bathroom counter. Thank God for that. Every charm means a lot. ”
John: “I was wearing my gold chain necklace.”
Radine: “The bottom drawer of the small jewelry chest in the guest room is entirely empty, and I can’t remember what was in it.”
And so it went. I’m sure we’ll still be finding something missing even a year or more from now.
This was not the first time. Many years ago our home in Tulsa was broken into and robbed while we were at work. A window was broken to give access. Inside, the intruder used a kitchen knife to break a larger hole in my treasured pink china piggy bank where the coin slot was. Coins were, it was obvious, removed through the hole. The pig’s snout, an easily removable cork with a ring in it, was undisturbed. Funny. I recall watches were stolen, some money, but that’s about all I still remember about the “take.”
We had wrought iron bars put on accessible windows, I mended the pig, and life went on. But I felt as if our home had been raped, and I had somehow been violated myself. That memory is still clear.
What’s even more interesting is that I felt none of that this time. I didn’t even feel anger at the intruder. There was no vandalism and, other than the almost-hidden search everywhere (there were those spilled glasses, the three drawers that wouldn’t shut, and the tell-tale glove on the floor), no other visible sign of The Visitor except for unlocked windows and doors.) The window used to gain access wasn’t even harmed. The Visitor used a garden tool to force the window open, but it gave without breaking. My pink pig was set out of its niche, but it held its original quarters, and the cork was still in place.
The deputies asked if we wanted them to check for fingerprints. I said I was sure every grade school child would know enough to wear gloves for this type of thing, checking anything except for the tool used to gain access would not be necessary. They agreed, so I was spared black, greasy smudges all over the house. (No fingerprints on the tool. Of course not.)
What about drugs, probably, the deputies suggested, the primary reason for the invasion? Nope, unless you count Tylenol. They left that, and a some almost-empty allergy medication forgotten by a guest.
Honestly? I think The Visitor was interrupted when our car turned into the rocky drive to our house in the hollow. Why? I initially typed in my preliminary report that I was missing a gold stick pin, a large repousse heart necklace charm on a chain, and my brother’s gold color Navy insignia. When I had time to check more thoroughly, I found those three items in a black velvet bag still among the mess on the dresser. There are other signs that hint at a hasty exit out the back door and through the woods to a car up on the road somewhere.
We have taken new precautions, followed some ideas suggested by the deputies. I occasionally feel a twinge of concern when we both leave home for errands. But, over all, there is a lot to be grateful for. For one thing, as we straighten up, we are filling bag after bag with excess “stuff” to take to the “Care and Share” shop in town. We have The Visitor to thank for that.