Everyday I walk down my road, past my neighbor, the Argentine Ambassador. I know its where hes my neighbor because there is a gold plaque on the wall announcing it to the world: Residence of the Argentine Ambassador. Which I think would be the perfect proclamation to thieves, terrorists and all general crazies. But after they put up that plaque, they must have thought of that too, and so now there’s a little guardman always sitting in his guard house by the front gate.
A man trying to break into a car with a coat hanger. And I think that’s odd. Then, that sucks he must have locked his keys in his car. But there are lots of other people also walking by, and no one else seems to find it the situation odd. What if it isn’t his car? no one would say anything. Should I stop him? But what am I going to say? Is that really your car?’
So I keep walking, and then I remember I have to get my laundry, so I pass by again. By now my conscience is starting to make me feel more uncomfortable. And i try to justify my inaction. I mean, he’s pretty well dressed, not that well dressed, but for i would expect someone dressed like him to drive i car that looks like that. And he doesn’t seem to be very good at breaking into the car, because if he was a professional he would have been in already. And besides, hes pretty well dressed.
And then suddenly I remember this time in Honduras. Us international volunteers lived in the apartments directly above the office. It always seemed like there was some random guy coming through, to fix someone’s shower, install new window screens, check the fire extinguisher. So when in middle of some normal work day, a well dressed man with a brief case walked up through the office into the apartments, no one thought anything of it. not the Honduran staff in the office downstairs who thought he was a friend of ours and not any of the happy innocent gringos working away. not me, I think I might have even said hola as he confidently walked up the stairs.
however many hours of CSI watching had given us the skill necessary to realize something was wrong when Nick’s laptop became unfindable. But by then the confident well-dressed man had disappeared (although, sort of ironically, not only was the laptop old and the least valuable of all the ones lying around, it was in german).
So now, back in Bolivia, i keep thinking about the the NYC slogan to prevent terrorist attacks if you see something, say something. Ok, ok, I have to do something. But what? I go into into a little pharmacy and tell the lady that there is a man with a wire trying to break into a car. it might be his car. and he is well dressed, for the car, but i should say something because i saw something. And im relieved, because now its her responsibility. But no, she is all alone in the store by herself, so why dont i walk down to the plaza and there is always a policeman there. i dont want to walk all that way back, and so then she suggests i got into that big apartment building and talk to the security guards. so i go by the man for the 4th time who by now im sure is looking at me strange and go into the building.
there is a man breaking into a car but it might be his car.
the security guards jump up and they seemed pretty excited about checking this out and are off down the street, although by this point the man has given up on breaking into the car and is disappearing in the traffic.
In the end, I don’t know how this story turns out. Not really even sure what the moral is. maybe poor guy was just having a terrible day.
I just remember that one time when I was still living in NYC, coming home late from work, like 2am, and I swore I saw this man down a side street getting punched up and then shoved into the back of a car mafia-style. but it was dark, and i was nervous, so I just kept walking quickly back to my apartment. But I always regretted it.