Day 194: Karens
Updated: Sep 27
Almost back from skating, my ex stopped the car half a block from the house and put it in reverse.
"There is someone in the alley," he explained even though we hadn't asked. "I think he is doing something on the neighbour's garage."
A month ago, our garage was broken into. They stole my new bike, my daughter's, the trikke, an old running stroller, and my ex's golf clubs and bag. My kid and I mourned the loss of the bikes. We had just gotten mine and fixed hers so we could take advantage of the weather, get fresh air and exercise. We had planned joyful rides, but those vanished with the bikes.
I have no doubt that it was the theft that prompted my ex to act in the way he did. From the corner, I could see a bike on the ground and one of those pulleys for toddlers. There was someone between the two garages. My ex drove into the alley and stopped in front of our garage. On the pulley, I saw foam squares, the type used in a gym, placed neatly as if to maximize the use of space. A man came out from the narrow space between the two garages. He looked emaciated, his dark clothes ragged and dusty, black stains all over. He smiled.
My ex rolled down the window.
"What are you doing?" my ex asked, his tone neutral.
"Just grabbing some wood from this pile," the man answered. "It's OK, right? It's just scraps."
"Did Chris say you could have those?" Chris is our neighbour, and he does woodwork, but the pile actually looks like junk. "I will have to call him and let him know you are here."
"I just wanted it to build a dog house," the man explained.
A knot in my stomach. I could taste acid in my mouth. When I turned around, I saw the brokenness in my kid's eyes, an ominous shine. Even my ex seemed uncomfortable.
"Sure, take them. They are just scraps."
"We are bad people," I said under my breath before I started to repeat the phrase like a hysterical mantra.
By the time we reached the corner, my kid was crying, accusing me of not letting her talk. I felt like crying too—the weight of my own cruelty pressing on my chest.
By the time we arrived home, my ex was exasperated with the commotion.
"He might have been the guy who stole your bike," he said. "What would you say if he was?"
"I would be happy," I answered, "He clearly needs it more than I do."
My kid and I got in, held each other, and cried.
My mother always said to me: "Prefiero pasar por boluda y no por desalmada" (I rather be taken for an idiot than be cruel). I taught that phrase to my kid today. We have so much while others have nothing.
We never want to be Karens again.
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