Sunday, August 22, 2010


Things didn’t go well yesterday after my wife came home in an absolute funk…
by Charlie Leck

Things are normally pretty peaceful around here on a Saturday. And, my wife is normally a very stable, even-keeled and rock of a person. Today, however, around two o’clock she called to tell me her billfold was stolen – this is the billfold with all her credit cards (at least four), a debit and cash withdrawal card (ATM), driver’s license, passport data card, insurance card, Medicare card and $340 in cash. There’s probably a dozen other items in there that she can’t think of right now in her agitated state.

A couple of 14 year old kids ran a con on her as she was loading up her truck after the Midtown Farmers Market closed yesterday. She has both a trailer to pack up and also some things to load into the backseat, interior compartment of her pickup truck – table cloths, signs, business and recipe cards, some sheepskins, an adding machine. It takes a couple of trips from the back of the trailer to the driver’s side of the pickup – not more than twenty feet. She started the whole process with the first trip to the pickup yesterday, leaving the door open because she knew she’d be right back and really hardly out of sight of the open door. Her purse was laying on the backseat.

What happened after that first load of little things was put in the pickup is that a fine little gentleman of about 14 interrupted her when she was back at the trailer and asked her a couple of questions about lamb. He had never eaten lamb he said sweetly.

“Is it good?”

Well, oh my, my wife thinks so and she told him. He asked another couple of questions about its tenderness and taste. My wife was pleased by his sense of curiosity and she climbed inside the freezer trailer to find him a package of lamb steaks as a gift.

“Take them home and have your mom try them,” she suggested to the young man. He was mighty pleased and thanked her with a big smile as he climbed on his bicycle and road away.

Well, it was plenty of time for his partner-in-crime to rifle my wife’s purse, find the billfold right at the top of the heap of stuff she keeps in there, and be off to the hinter lands of south Minneapolis.

She was frantic.

“What can I do?”

Well, we climbed in my car and headed for Minneapolis. As we drove, she called various credit card companies by using the phone numbers on the back of my cards and canceled the cards immediately.

My big idea is that we would go down to the farmers market and look in the trash cans and the portable toilet on the south end of the parking lot because that’s the way the two boys would likely have gone.

“Perhaps they peeled out the cash and threw the rest away.”

Well, the toilet area was locked up when we got there and so was the trash and sanitation stand next to it.” I looked down an alley across the street and noticed there were trash cans behind every house all the way down the alley. Over at the YMCA, across the street, there were big garbage dumpsters. There were even bigger ones at the big high school just a block away. Things were looking pretty hopeless.

There was a police precinct station just a few blocks away. I decided we’d go over there and report the incident. A patrolman met us in the parking lot as we approached the building and asked if he could help. We told him the sorry story. He shook his head in despair and showed us a look that indicated we ought to be more careful with our belongings.

“You understand there’s no chance we’ll catch them.”

“Yes, but shouldn’t we still report the crime?” My wife was sounding a little incredulous.

“You can call 3-1-1 and report it. They’re closed down for the weekend, but you can call on Monday. Or, you can file a report on the Internet’s 3-1-1 site.”

All was hopeless! Clearly!

We drove home! More correctly, I drove and thought I’d take the express lane on the freeway as I almost always do. I moved left to slide into it and only then spotted the gates indicating it was closed. Odd that it would be closed at 4:20 in the afternoon. It was always open then, but, then, this was a Saturday.

I needed to hurriedly move out of the lane and back to the right. I started to, but there was a car already there, right next to me. I had to jerk the car back left and couldn’t stop before one of the big gates slammed against the rear view mirror on my side of the car and plucked it off as neatly and cleanly as you could imagine. Only the electronic control-wiring was left staring into the car at me. Damn!

I couldn’t stop. It was a narrow, single lane area, raised above the city below me. Cars were coming like crazy. I accelerated and joined the flow of traffic. Of course, my wife, who had been on the phone with another credit card agency, screamed when she heard the smash of the gate against my rear view mirror, startling the poor fellow she was chatting with and me as well.

The ride home was a bit perilous – what without a rear view mirror and all and my wife’s continuous moaning about what a horrible day it had become. The Twins were getting their fannies handed to them too, and it was no relief listening to that game on the radio.

It was just a plain, old, bad day at Black Rock started by a couple of shrewed little fourteen year old kids on their bikes.

Are there lessons here? I could see the policeman’s face looking at us and I could tell he was thinking we were just a couple of farmer-hicks in from the countryside and ripe for picking.

“Maybe you ought to be a little more careful when you come into the city!”


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