I’ve lived in major metro areas my entire life – Albany, NY, Columbus, Miami, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and most recently, Seattle. They all had one disturbing characteristic in common – high levels of crime. Every year, it seems, the rates of homicides, drug-related incidents, home break-ins, road rage, and jaywalking go up. I hate to admit it, but even I eventually succumbed to my base criminal instincts. Last summer, I paid for three hours of parking in downtown Seattle, but left my car in the spot for three hours and 12 minutes. I know I should have turned myself in. It’s something that will eat away at my conscience for the rest of my life.
So when my wife and I moved to a small, idyllic community (population ~ 15,000), I was relieved that we’d finally escaped the urban world of unbridled crime. Or had we? We now live on Camano Island, a seemingly tranquil, semi-rural community with rolling farmland, rugged beaches, and views of snow-capped mountains. But lurking underneath this deceptive façade of serenity, I’ve discovered an insidious underbelly of rampant crime.
The island’s longtime elderly residents remember nostalgically a more peaceful era, when the main activities were crab fishing and sitting. The island only had one stop light, one gas station, and almost nobody with a last name that was hard to pronounce. But now the island has four stop lights and three gas stations. Thankfully, with the exception of Lucjan and Konstantyna Chmielowski, who were born in Poland, we can still pronounce most people’s names. However, along with this community’s spiraling urbanization (recently they even opened a drive-through espresso stand, can you imagine!) has come previously unheard of levels of crime and disorderly behavior.
The following is a list of infractions reported for the month of March. (All of the following items are based on actual police reports found in the local paper, the Camano Island Hopper.)
March 4: Mail was stolen from 115 Paradise Lane. The homeowner is only asking the perpetrator to please return the Wednesday Flyer section of the paper. There was a two-for-one coupon on flank steak she had planned to use.
March 9: Police responded to a possible domestic disturbance at 47 Tranquility Court when a resident reported hearing loud pitch screaming and shouting emanating from their next-door neighbor’s domicile. Turned out that the resident had misplaced his hearing aid and had been watching an episode of The Price Is Right at full volume.
March 13: There was a small fender bender when two vehicles collided at the intersection of Pleasant Road and Peaceful Street because one car failed to yield at a stop sign. Nobody was hurt, and the drivers exchanged insurance information over coffee at the IGA grocery store. The offending driver offered to pay for both drinks, but the other gentleman said no thanks, though he appreciated the generous offer.
March 15: An 87-year-old woman located at 11 Dandelion Place called police to report that her 16-year-old granddaughter Chelsea had run away. After a brief investigation, police were able to locate Chelsea in a tree. Chelsea, it turned out, was the woman’s 16-year-old calico cat. She does not actually have any grandchildren.
March 19: A teenager was spotted throwing a rock at a residential window at 42 Eagle’s Nest Terrace. The rock missed the window but caused a slight dent in the downspout. The homeowner is not pressing charges since the suspect was later identified as his middle child Nathan.
March 21: Police responded to an argument between a mother and her eleven-year-old son at 33 Happy Hedgehog Trail. The exact nature of the dispute was not divulged, though it reportedly had something to do with the son being told he could not watch any more TV until he finished his homework.
March 23: A resident of 219 Nothing-Ever-Happens-Here Way reported his lawn mower stolen and informed police that he suspected his neighbor with whom he’d gotten into a dispute over who should win on American Idol. He called the police the next day to report that he found it – in his backyard shed, right where he’d left it. Claiming a “senior moment,” he reluctantly decided not to press charges against his annoying neighbor.
March 26: Police checked in on a thirteen-year-old boy who had been shouting about how much he loved some girl named Natalie in his seventh grade class. He was apparently causing a disturbance to the neighbors. Upon questioning, the boy admitted to consuming his very first beer and was feeling the effects of an alcohol buzz. He later threw up and apologized to his parents. No charges were pressed.
March 28: A female high school student walking down North Crime-Is-Unheard-Of-Around-Here Drive was approached by a suspicious-looking bearded man driving unusually slowly in what she described as “a creepy looking van” and called police. After a brief investigation, police identified the creepy man as Barney Mueller, the local Good Humor Man, just making his usual rounds.
March 30: Police responded to a call from the local IGA that two suspicious youths, aged 22 and 21, shoplifted several candy bars and a bag of Doritos. An hour later, police were unable to locate any of the candy or the Doritos, although both youths, when questioned, appeared to have suspiciously orange tongues.
See what I mean? I’m living in fear for my life here – or at least in fear for my snack food. I’ve half a mind to think about maybe eventually possibly locking my front door when we’re away for a few days. It’s gotten that bad. Please pray for my safety, won’t you?
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2016