Grand Jury (Day 6) – What’s mine ain’t yours

I don’t like admitting this, but I find myself locking things now I didn’t used to lock. I’ve always figgered as a thin white hetero male with an average amount of money and an honest face, society was already doing more than its share for protecting me. I thought I was increasing my already-unjustly-favorable odds by remaining suspiciously underinvested in most items that lend status or romance. The car I drive, notably, is almost 20 years old. We don’t measure these cars’ odometers in miles; we prefer lunar units. This one has been to the moon and back 1.2 times.

But then I had to sit and listen to a case where one kid stole a Toyota Camry about as old as mine. He used a “shaved key” to break in and start it, then drove his girlfriend around in it. Until they found another Toyota Camry of a similar vintage. Out of the old and into the new! (Apparently one key worked on both vehicles.) This fellow did this SEVEN times. The target was not the neighborhood or the resale value or the gas mileage or how cool the car looked. It was how many he could do, one after another.

We heard today that the guy was sentenced to 76 months in prison.

But me, poor me, now I feel like maybe I should be locking my car. Not because I think there’s any good reason to steal my car, but because somebody may have already stolen one like it and wants to switch, just for the heck of it.

I’ve always believed that if you have to lock something to confirm in your heart that it’s really yours, you never finished paying for it. It’s not healthy to have too many “open accounts” outstanding. I prefer to own things I’m not afraid to lose. I could refer to that chestnut about heart and treasure, but it’s really not so high-minded as all that. I just don’t want to be fumbling for keys all the time or remembering combinations or whatever. It feels like a layer of fear between me and the thing, a layer I’d rather not have.

Each execution of the security layer feels like losing one percent of protected thing. After 100 times, it feels as though it should be gone by now. Just like people who insure their home and when there’s a fire, they think “it’s about time I got my money’s worth on that policy.” You see? At some point, the money is going not to the home but to the insurance that protects the home. I think we do the same when we lock our stuff. We remove it a mite from ourselves (with a lock or a trick or a what-have-you) to keep it from becoming somebody else’s. But after a while, does it still feel like it’s ours? The little bit of fear incited by fumbling for the keys feels like a small loss to prevent a large loss. Trouble is, that small loss happens every time you do the fumbling. It’s only a matter of time before the net investment of the item is outstripped by the cumulative investment in its protection.

So I choose not to lock most of what I use. But I have to admit. It’s changed a bit since listening to these stories. Pity.