Charley the Golden Retriever is here visiting, whilst his human travels to Colorado to visit Granma (104 years old and still kickin’ vigorously, believe it or not!) and then spends a few days at his favorite fishing hole.
Charley is utterly, totally, completely harmless. He is not a German shepherd or a Doberman pinscher or a Belgian malinois, no. No, indeed. He will not remove your foot, no matter what nefarious shenanigans you get up to. Holy mackerel, you could even be a President of the United States elected with the collusion of an enemy foreign power, and he still would not remove your foot. He would, instead, love you into submission.
But he’s big. Very, very big. And something there is about a very big dog that is satisfying.
For, after all…
The human does not live among the harmless. Sooner or later (probably sooner) the human is going to have to decide whether to continue to den among the feckless and the criminal, or to move itself and its tribe far far away, to another galaxy in another time.
Yesterday I’m sitting here snarfing down breakfast when I hear thunk twang whack coming from our lovely alley. These interesting noises have become so commonplace that Ruby the Corgi Pup, who fancies herself a watchdog, no longer even bothers to bark at them.
This goes on long enough that I wonder what the f*ck, haul myself to my agèd feet, climb up on a landscaping rock, and peer over the wall.
Yep. There’s a bum out there.
He’s big, he’s white, he’s red-headed, he’s filthy, and he’s pulled all the trash out of the big communal garbage bin. He’s going through every, single, tiny bit of it, piece by piece, apparently deciding what to keep and what to throw back.
A bum fishing expedition, as it were.
He has a big plastic bag on the ground next to him.
It looks a whole lot like the garbage bag containing two weeks’ worth of junk mail and garbage recently discarded from my house.
I think…oh shit! What’s in that thing?
Nothing that contains an account number or a Social Security number: all of that trash gets filed in the Bottomless Trash Collector that is my office. BUT…
Yes. BUT every piece of effing junkmail has my name and address on it. No, I do not shred every piece of incoming effing junkmail. To do so would take half my lifetime. And even though I have a heavy-duty shredder that will consume a defunct credit card, the bastard junk-mailers try to force you to open their envelopes by stuffing them with so much paper they’ll jam the heaviest-duty shredder you can buy. I do not have enough hours left in my life to open every piece of trash that’s sent to me and run it, page by page, through the shredder. So…if it’s not stamped First Class Mail, it goes directly into the trash, without passing go and without being opened.
Claro que this is not the brightest idea…
After another stretch of time, it dawns on the agèd mind that the recycling and the garbage were picked up on Thursday. Our bum guest has come visiting on a Friday…a day late and presumably quite a few dollars short.
The relief is short-lived, of course. because the message remains painfully obvious: never throw out anything that has anything personally identifiable on it!
Between that and the day-before-yesterday’s reminder that we do not live in the safest of all possible neighborhoods, once again I find myself wondering: is it time to pull up stakes?
And if so, Where would I go?
I do not want to move. I love my home. I love my yard. I love my neighbors. I even love my (somewhat questionable) neighborhood. I love living close to my church. I love living close to my son. I love being more or less in the center of what passes for the city’s cultural life (snark!). I love living close to a mountain park. I love having an excuse to carry a pistol or a can of Bear Spray with me when I go out…oops. Oh. Not so much that latter. Oh well.
So. What to do about the immediate problem: thieves sifting through the garbage looking for anything they can use or sell, including identifying documents?
Well, the trash goes out about once every two weeks. One thing I could do is collect a week’s worth of dog mounds (that is quite a lot…corgis are actually big dogs on short legs) and, before tying off the trash bag. dump the whole accretion in on top. That would probably discourage most guys from pawing through the bag’s contents.
The gent I saw yesterday? Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on how desperate he is to stay current with his fixes, I imagine.
Then we have the larger problem: Despite all the good-hearted jawing, these derelicts are NOT harmless.
Most recent obvious case in point: the young father who was sitting in Southern California restaurant when some homeless mentally ill nut case walked up to him and stabbed him in the throat.
This is not as uncommon as you might think. When a person’s voices tell him to do something, it’s just not that easy to say “no.”
One of the immediate causes that led my ex- and I to sell our very lovely home in the historic Encanto District — this happened after the ax murderer chopped our 80-year-old neighbor to pieces, donned her tennis shoes, and drove away in her car — occurred when a local bum noticed a woman who regularly appeared early at her employers’ dirty-shirt law office to fix the coffee and use a few quiet moments to catch up on her tasks. His voices clued him to the fact that she was actually Satan, and advised that he should kill her. Understandably, that’s exactly what he did: stabbed her to death.
Encanto in the 1970s was enjoying the same influx of “homeless” bums and drug addicts as North Central is today…occasioned by the same influence: Our Honored City Parents, who do not give a damn what happens to your neighborhood as long as it enriches their already wealthy patrons. Then we had downtown redevelopment. Now we have the light-rail — locally known as the Bum Express.
I do not feel safe visiting the grocery stores in the neighborhood, which are overrun with lightrail-riding transients. To do routine shopping, I drive out of the area, sometimes way out of the area. Nor do I feel very safe carrying the trash out to the alley garbage bins.
Driving my trash to some other neighborhood is not very practical, so I have to be careful to check the area before unlocking the gate, and never go out there after dark.
Should I buy another shepherd dog?
Not a chance. The fact still remains that I no longer am physically vigorous enough to handle a large, powerful, high-drive dog. Nor can I afford the concomitant vet bills. A big dog costs big money. And without a salary, I just don’t have it.
I could get one of those outdoor fire pits and use it to reduce the junk mail to ash. This of course is illegal in Phoenix. But if you did it after dark, when the City’s air watchdogs are home burning trash in their own fireplaces, no one would catch you. Especially not if you dumped the ashes as soon as they were cool enough to dispose of.
The fact is, it’s not very safe to go into the alley. And the fact is, the only place to dispose of your trash is…yes. In the alley.
As a practical matter, it’s beginning to add up to one conclusion: Pretty soon I’m going to have to move someplace that isn’t being actively trashed by our City Parents and their deep-pocketed backers.
And I don’t want to.