Saturday, October 22


One of the things that's really different about life in a small, old-fashioned town is the vastly altered view of home security. I've lived in cities all my life, so nothing really much scares me. "Bad" neighborhoods, late nights, walking alone - no problem for me. So I've always been pretty laissez-faire about home security. I mean, I locked my doors, but I didn't double-triple-bolt them or anything. And I never had any problems, so there was never any reason for me to get more freaked out.

That said, I am ASTOUNDED by the way people think about home security here. It's not that people say we shouldn't lock our doors, because they don't. They say, "Lock your doors at night." Then they tell me it's completely okay to leave doors unlocked during the day. And everybody's windows are open and not locked anyway. There are no bars on any windows. People leave chairs, tables, decorations, baskets on their porches.

It's the contradiction, don't you see, that gets to me. I haven't studied the crime figures here (I'd love to get my hands on those), but let's be honest with ourselves, is there really any more risk at night? Is the risk during the day really so negligible that no security measures are needed? See, I think it's wierd. If we're the kind of town where we can leave things on our porches, do we really need to lock our doors? Maybe we do, I don't know, but it's strikes me as sooooooooooooo irrational. Based on fear and myths, rather than any reality.

What brings this up now? Well, I ordered a bunch of things from to take care of my auburn mascara/organic skin care dilemma. And the lovely UPS delivery lady, who has been on the route for 17 years, happened to catch me at home when the box arrived (that was back when I wasn't working more than full-time out of the house, which I'll tell you about at some point.) After I explained that we were the new owners and it was only one unit now, she said, if I left the door to our back porch unlocked, she could leave packages for us there. (The electric company has asked us to do the same thing, so they can get to the meter. I asked two different meter-readers in a row to call us the day before they want to read the meter, and we'll either be here or leave it unlocked. But they seem to have lost that memo, because they haven't called, have left little notes, and have been estimating our bills.)

Because half of our belongings and almost all of my inheritance is currently in the enclosed porch, I'm a little reluctant to leave them completely open to anyone who might be tempted to walk in. Irrational, maybe, but after you've spent a thousand dollars shipping everything you'll ever get from your mother, you can tell me I should leave it out in public.

The UPS lady gave me another option: I could put a box, like plastic, on the front porch, and she could leave packages inside it. Then people wouldn't see my package, and presumably steal it, before I got home. Oh the nonsensicality! Is this a safe town - where we leave our porches unlocked - or is it someplace where people steal your mascara and toner off your porch? Which is it?

Writing this, I realize that the compromise solution is clearly to put a box outside the BACK porch and asking her to drop off packages in that. (Which doesn't solve my electric meter problem, but ... whaddayawantfrommeperfection?) Duh. That's my Seven Sisters-educated brain at work, the one they pay me to drag into the office every morning. But that doesn't really solve my overall mystification about whether to lock my doors, close my windows, install bars, and worry about burglary. As I said, my natural tendency is to not worry about it.

But don't get me started thinking about the possibility of a fire. Because that's scary.


At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Amanda said...

On our electric bill it states when the next meter read is. You might check yours. That combined with the plastic box in the back solves the two immediate problems.

In our area, I highly doubt that things are locked up tight, but it's the kind of area where an intruder is highly likely to be met with a shotgun.

At 11:17 PM, Blogger amanda said...

In our fairly metropolitan area, I don't ever worry about open windows, bars on the windows, etc. but I do lock the doors when I leave the house- it just seems stupid not to. I have stuff all over the porches and in the backyard, which is only secured with a gate. I've never had any problems at all!! I think that you're just adjusting to life the the country. As for the meter, is there any way you can relocate your valuables to the inside of your home? Or, can you work something out with the electric company to (a) move the meter to the exterior of your house or (b) install a "remote-read" meter? The gas and electric company do remote reads on us, and we've never had any problems that way. Good luck!

At 10:10 AM, Blogger J. Blobbom said...

I think the idea is, you only leave those things out on the porch, in plain view, that have little resale value. That way crystal meth addicts who may be looking for something to steal quickly will not be tempted.

On the other hand, a UPS package may or may not be valuable, so someone might be tempted to steal it, under the guise of ringing your doorbell to sell Girl Scout Cookies.

On the other hand, you can leave your windows or doors unlocked because no one will have the brazenness to walk right into your house. I think this is crazy, though. We all know that most home invasions take place during the day, after the invader has rung the doorbell trying to sell you cookies and has determined that you're not home.

If it were me, I'd lock the doors whenever I'm out, hide a key under the flower pot or the mat, and don't worry about the windows.

In fact, that's what I do in the city, too.



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