When I lived in an apartment, I had the Sunday morning newspaper delivered. One morning, as I headed out the door, I discovered my paper was missing. I called the Omaha World-Herald and they brought me another one.
The main entrance to our building stood four feet away from my front door. As the delivery man/boy entered the building, the door would swing open with a squeak. Then, I’d hear the heavy bundle of papers dropped outside my door. They’d scurry down the aisle dropping Sunday morning papers as they went. I still recall that plop, plop noise echoing throughout the building. For some reason, my paper seemed to be missing a lot. I finally realized, my building had a newspaper thief. Cue the ominous music.
I went through the five stages of loss and grief.
Denial! Someone couldn’t possibly have stolen MY paper. Maybe, the newspaper gods forgot to deliver it? Perhaps, the person across the hall thought it was their paper. Did I pay the bill?
Anger/Outrage. Okay, maybe I wasn’t outraged. How about annoyed? Yes, I was annoyed.
Bargaining: Maybe, if I had gotten up earlier, the paper wouldn’t have been so tempting. Perhaps, they were anxiously awaiting that new potato soup recipe.
Depression: Now, I have to trample off to the store to buy another paper. It’s not the World Herald’s fault criminals abound. I did pay the bill. I did, I did.
Acceptance: I guess I can live without my paper.
I really enjoyed the Women’s section. Ann Landers, Dear Abby (this was 20 years ago) and Hints from Heloise. Ask Andy and cartoons! I loved reading Snoopy. Sometimes, when I couldn’t stand my job, I’d pour over the want ads. I read the Midlands news and the world news. World peace has always been a priority.
I really didn’t want to accept this, this blatant theft, this manipulation of my time and money. Besides, it was wrong, wrong, wrong! Stealing is wrong!
It became a struggle to get up earlier than the thief. I had to set my alarm at six a.m. ON SUNDAY MORNING! It was the only way to get the item I paid for. I really wanted to catch the thief in the act, but I never could.
I got tired of this cat and mouse game. So, I decided to set a trap.
This must be the sixth stage of Grief. Revenge. I’m not a vengeful person and I don’t like vigilantes. When someone takes the law into their own hands, all our lives are lessened. But mind you, I was pretty teed off.
I took some old newspapers and sorted them the way they normally are arranged. I placed the World news first, then the Midlands and then the Sports. Except I included two Sports sections. I figure they might have found this amusing. They might comment to their roommate/spouse, “Why look, the World-Herald added two sports sections! Ha, those crazy journalists.”
I then included carrot scrapings and old potato peels. I did this a few days in advance so I imagine the carrot scrapings and potato peels were pretty brown and smelly. I did hope for smelly.
Then I took a black magic marker and wrote, “Thy Shalt Not Steal.”
The night before, I slept in my living room by the door. That way, when I heard the paper flop down, I could grab it with lightening speed. It was right out of Mission Impossible. I carefully eased open the door, still in my jammies, mind you. I didn’t want to be seen. Not only because I was in my pajamas, but because this was a stealth operation. With one arm, I grabbed my Sunday morning paper and slipped out the fake one.
Until this posting, I never thought about what it must have been like for them. Maybe, they were the kind of person who stood to read the paper. They would fan it open and potato peelings would land on the floor and the dog or cat would get into it. Or maybe, it would land on her open toe shoe. (Who says newspaper thieves are men?) Envision a brown, possibly moldy potato peel lodged between her painted toes.
What if the wife insisted the husband bring the paper home and since he was a lazy, cheap clod, he grabbed mine instead. Imagine if will, the wife was the kind of reader who opened her favorite section while sitting down. Blackened carrot scrapings would land in her lap. In the end, they didn’t save any money. I’ve heard couples therapy can be expensive.
Needless to say, no one ever stole my paper again.