Friday, June 18, 2010

What Kind of World?

I think the Fates are trying to tell my wife and I something.

Many years ago, when My Love and I were first married and living in the big city (okay, Pittsburgh), our apartment was robbed while we were at work.  They got the Nintendo, small TV, my GameBoy (this is way, waaayyy back) and our jewelry.  In the jewelry box were not only my wife's engagement ring, but both of our wedding bands.  We both avoided wearing jewelry to our jobs for various reasons, in case anyone was wondering.  Mine would get scratched up on carpet backing, and My Love's hands were constantly dipping into either hot water or food.  Ah, the Good Olde Days.

To make a long story short: we lost the symbols of our marriage.  I know, they were only symbols, but it still hurt.  And, the first couple years of matrimony are the most fragile and unstable, as any married couple will tell you.  It was frightening and a little ominous.  Eventually, we replaced the bands, and the engagement ring (I have yet to find one as beautiful as the original, though).  Life went on.  The trials and tribulations passed us by, clad in the symbolic metal rings of our loving bond.

Fast forward to today.  After hitting the bank (making a withdrawal, not robbing it,) I headed over to the pawn shop.  A couple months ago we hit a financial tough spot and took out a loan against some of our jewelry.  Normally, that's not something I would do, but the guy who runs this place was a real gentleman: friendly, polite, honest, and willing to make allowances and give you a break if you were in a tight spot.  Name another pawn shop that does that.  Hell, name another business that does that.  I've dealt with him on and off for the past few years, and it's always gone well.

The place is Fast Cash Pawn here in Columbus.  I never knew the owner/operator's name.  Due to his thick accent, we always called him The Russian, but privately.  Every time i called or entered his shop, I was greeted with "Hillo, MIS-tear Cuffmin!".  I liked the hell out of this guy, is what I'm getting at.  He had a big safe in the back room, bars on the front wall and door, all the security measures.  And, he had our jewelry.

It was under $100, but most of our "good" stuff was there: including both of our wedding bands and her engagement ring, plus a couple of charms I bought her when each of the boys were born.  Nothing we haven't done before.  Whenever money got tight, I "took a trip to The Russian,", as if it were some desperate act of espionage as opposed to a low-interest loan for a few weeks.  Today, i stopped by to pick up our stuff.  And saw the sign:

"Closed for Business"

Oh, crap.

The Russian was gone?  I'd just been there a month earlier.  Closed?  As I was copying down the phone number on the sign, for those looking r\to retrieve their items, I heard a loud buzz.  Looking up, I saw The Russian and his assistant (also with the same accent) waving me in as they deactivated the lock.  Inside, i got the whole story.

He'd been robbed.  Nine days earlier, someone had broken in through the back door and simply taken the safe away, as well as pocketing a bunch of small electronics.  In a few short minutes, some bastards had wrecked this man's business, his livelihood.  And taken the symbols of My Love and my eternal love.  Again.  At first I was devastated for our loss.  Our wedding bands.  The replacement engagement ring.  The cute little gold charms.  They'd only been out of our sight for a few short weeks.  Now they were gone.

Then it hit me.  Our minor loss was nothing compared to this man's.  AS he explained what happened, this meek, kindly immigrant shop owner expressed a grief I've rarely seen.  Apologizing again and again for our loss, he nearly broke down, wondering aloud what he was going to do now that his livelihood, and much of his retirement, was destroyed.  With all the lost merchandise, he couldn't afford to stay open.  A hardworking man, I'd never been in the shop without seeing him there, working 10-12 hour days.  At 57 years old, the man was starting over.

Someone, some heartless, lazy bastard, had taken the time to plan this, to bust open an honest businessman's livelihood and take an entire SAFE in a matter of minutes.  I work for a living; part-time granted, as I am a full-time SAHD.  My Love works her gorgeous buns off pretty much every day.  Our boys do their share, taking care of chores and the like to make things run more smoothly.  So where did this prick get off taking what wasn't his?  From hardworking people, like us.  Like The Russian.

Sometimes I wonder what kind of world I'm raising my boys in.

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