Good People, Bad People

It has long been one of my convictions that most people are good.  I’ve said it, and I’ve believed it, and if I hadn’t, the outpouring of affection, prayers, support, and gifts we have received since the fire would have convinced me.  Gift cards, money, clothes  and toys for the children, offers of lodging and furniture, and delicious meals remind us that we are poor in possessions but rich in love.
Yes, most people are good, but as Sister Louise, my U.S. History teacher, used to say, “There’s always that five percent.”
Less than three weeks ago I posted on Facebook something like, “We now have three working cars!  I wonder how long that will last?”  Silly me to tempt fate in such a way.
I’ve written here before about our trusty 1998 Dodge Durango.  That was the car I was driving up until last December when John got a really good deal (he has a regular client/good friend who sells used cars) on a 2001 Pontiac Montana.  So the minivan became my main car and we decided to hold on to the Durango, both in case of break downs of the other cars and so that we’d have something for the kids to drive eventually.  John was driving a 2000 Lincoln Towncar that the same friend found for him.  The last car he’d had before that was pretty grim, so he was very fond of the nice-looking Lincoln.  As it turned out, with all these old cars, repairs were frequent and there were times that two were out of commission at once.  We had just spent quite a bit on the Lincoln, which needed a whole new back end, right before we left down for Grandma’s funeral.
The two cars we left parked in front of our garage when we went out of town caused a lot of concern to the fire department and friends who saw the blaze and feared we were inside.  The first began in the garage and when we saw the cars they were pretty melty and singed on the fronts.

I know they look pretty awful but it seemed like all body damage.  My Uncle Jack and my cousin Rick own a body shop is Strawberry Plains.  We have comprehensive coverage on those cars for a wonder so we were feeling pretty hopeful.  John in particular was really holding on to the thought of getting his car looking nice again.
Here’s where the bad people come in.  The next time we went back up to the house, someone–and the kind of person who would do such a thing is not even something I can conceive of–had STOLEN all four wheels off the Lincoln and one off the Durango.  These same admirable individuals stole our nice new jack and a couple of computers from the car (they were broken computers-ha!!).  Even more horrifying, they WENT IN the intact part of the house through Lorelei’s window.

Now, when it comes to crime and poverty and that sort of thing I am pretty much a liberal of the bleeding heart variety, capable of feeling sorry for almost anyone, full of mercy and all those good things.  I also like to think I am a Christian.  But the thought of despicable people picking through the ruins of our tragedy, walking on the ashes of every thing I used to treasure, all for their own possible profit–well, that just about put me over the edge.  I’m ashamed to say that I was–and still am, although I hope to get past it–full of ill will.
Neither John nor I has had a breakdown yet.  I walked through the ashes without shedding a tear.  This little bit of cruelty brought me closer to the breaking point than anything else thus far.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who keep reminding us through your actions that most people are good, and kind, and loving, and generous.

0 thoughts on “Good People, Bad People

  1. Brian Tausher

    Beautifully written, Leslie. And don’t be too hard on yourself about feeling ill-will. I’m ready to fly down there and hunt me up some trespassers just reading about what they (he?) did! Besides, I’m with Milton on this one: “I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue.” The way you handle this is what makes you remarkable.
    Look for a few packages headed your way from the Great Northern Woods …

  2. Karen

    Leslie, I don’t know you and I only heard about your tragedy through Katie’s blog, but I did want to sympathize with you here. We had a fire in our house 2.5 years ago; not nearly as devastating as yours, but we were out of house & home for about 18 months while trying to rebuild. We rented the house next door during that time. Toward the end of our rebuild, the rent house was burglarized and all of my and my daughter’s jewelry was stolen, in addition the piggy banks from my daughter’s rooms were grabbed up. I’m sure other things were taken but I can’t even remember what they might have been since we were still living out of boxes and our stuff was still scattered to the four winds, or at least it felt that way. I still think, to this day, that the burglary was perpetrated by some of the itinerant tradesmen on our construction job.
    It totally sucks. My girls, who were 7 & 9 years old at the time of the fire, will remember this period of our lives forever. The fire happened on my mom’s 70th birthday, so the date will forever be a part of my life. On the positive side, this experience made us really aware of what’s important in our lives. We’re back in our house but we have much less “stuff.” We know we can function well as a family through the hardest of trials. The burglary – it’s just a blip in the mess of our life post-fire.
    {{{{{HUGS}}}}} to you and yours.

    1. Thanks, Karen. I so appreciate hearing from others who made it through something like this. It gives me something to go by, you know? What you say about the stuff resonates with me for sure. I wish I still had my stuff–don’t get me wrong–but my house was a mess and always disrognized and we will definitely seize on this opportunity to make some changes in that regard.

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