Back in December 2012, we were getting the exterior of our house painted.
It was taking longer than anticipated but it gave me a chance to get to know the young guy who was doing the work. He was a subcontractor of the business, and I’d not met him before, but although mighty rough around the edges, he seemed ok to me.
I’d baked him biscuits, he’d chatted to D Man and let him ‘help’ with the work.
When he asked me to leave the door open when I went out so he could use the bathroom, I honestly didn’t think twice about it. He’d been around for two weeks, and we’d built little rapport.
As I was leaving I said –
‘You’re in charge, man. Take care of my house’
‘No problem’ he called.
The thing is, while I was out, he stole something very precious to me. In fact, the only valuable thing I own.
He stole my engagement ring. You may remember I mentioned it on Facebook, but I was silenced until after the court case.
When I arrived home at midday, he begged off sick saying he’d come back tomorrow, Saturday morning, and finish his day’s work. I told him I hoped he felt better and to go and take it easy.
The second I noticed it was gone I knew it was him. I knew because my wedding and engagement rings are three rings stacked together and only the middle one was missing. The sparkly one. I knew also, because I just fucking knew.
I knew that this little opportunistic shit had made a split second decision, and made the wrong choice.
I also knew it was a really big thing to accuse someone outright, so I called a trusted clairvoyant with whom I have a long time relationship.
She confirmed my beliefs, for what it’s worth, and she said I would never see the ring again. Her advice was to approach it head on. Call him on it, and appeal to him.
Which I did. I rang him and told him my ring was here this morning, and now it is gone. I asked if he had seen it, or had any ideas, and he said he hadn’t. So I told him I knew he took it.
He denied it, of course, swore on the eyes of his children, in fact. I explained that I would have to call the local police.
I could go into great detail about the following 48 hours. I could explain how he gave us the run around. He kept changing mobile numbers and making me call him from public phone boxes. I was heartbroken at my stupidity in forgetting it that morning and that insurance wouldn’t cover us because I left the door open.
I tracked down his girlfriend and told her everything, in case he tried to give it to her, and I tracked down his brother, and threatened to expose him to his brother. I kept thinking I could outwit him, and scare him like he was scaring me and he’d decide I was too batshit crazy to take on.
I also kept saying to him if it just shows up in my letter box I will never question where it came from.
By the time he asked me for money, I was exhausted physically and emotionally and I was ready to do anything to get my ring back. He wanted me to go alone to a park to meet him and do the handover.
Are you for real?
If I read in the paper about a girl who went alone to a park to hand over extortion money in exchange for a ring from a thief and she got killed, I would think she was a bloody idiot. No, I said, I will NOT be coming alone.
I could tell you all the conversations we had, where I was brave or witty, or cutting and angry, or I could tell you all of the problems he said he had, and how his girlfriend was abducting his children and he needed money for airfare. I could tell you that he was a chronic liar and I discovered almost everything we’d discussed for two weeks had been lies.
I could tell you how Mister H and I sorted it on on own and out played the player, or about the sting we ended up setting up with the Burwood Police, or how they were so incredibly helpful after the Kogarah Police were so dismissive of me. I could tell you about the arrest, and the court case and plea I was forced to take.
Once, the entire story seemed really important, but it’s not really what I’m talking about today. I want to talk about –
You see, my house is currently teeming with workmen. I’m not going to stay home all day every day in the noise and rubble with the kids. I couldn’t.
Am I wary? Do I pack away my valuables and live in fear of someone committing a crime against me?
When all of this was going down my mum said to me –
Don’t let this change the person that you are. You trust people, and that’s a good thing.
I would never want to live my life in a state of fear. I am not scared walking around the streets at night, I don’t fear intruders and I leave my car unlocked, much to my husband’s chagrin. I am cautious when it comes to my children, of course, I do not tempt fate where they are concerned, but the fact is, I am a trusting person.
I believe that most people are good in this world and there are a few damaged people out there that ruin it for everyone.
So, my game plan is to be kind to people. I share my baked treats with the tradies, mostly out of kindness and a little out of hope that they will take that kindness and treat it with respect. I know, with 100% of my being, that it was the kindness I showed my young thief before his infarction that got me my ring back in the end. If I had been an arse, or even ambivalent towards him, he would surely have simply sold it and disappeared.
I think that the world needs more kindness and less suspicion. One of those traits feels light and free and the other is a shackle that will weigh you down.
Be safe…but try your hardest not to be scared.