THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: This bandit can’t change his spots
MY BROTHER delivered the crushing news early one morning in the form of a question.
He asked me if I had left the window of my vehicle down.
“No,” I said.
He responded by instructing me to go check because the window was down and some things were on the front seat.
To my horror someone had violated Betsy, and not for the first time. Someone had found and exploited one of the many weaknesses in the Connell/Ya-Ya chariot.
It was all in vain since I keep almost nothing of value in there save for shoes. I never got into the habit of tossing spare change into the tray, particularly since someone left me with a $300 repair bill after forcing their way into Betsy to get a few coins that didn’t even add up to a $1.
Indeed the tray was pulled out and some papers scattered on the front seat but my Holy Bible remained in place.
I was halfway looking into the vehicle and my daughter Ya-Ya was next to me. Just then I noticed someone on a bicycle turn into the driveway, and then I heard my uncle’s voice.
He asked and stated at the same time, “It is you that break in here. You are a thief, ya know.”
Without even looking up I knew he was talking to the notorious neighbourhood crook. Even though he had been punished with jail, nothing changed him.
There was no response to the accusation. Instead the thief shouted for my brother. When my brother appeared, without hesitation he said, “Wait, it is you that break in here – because you are a thief.”
Returning to scene
Still no response, and by now Ya-Ya and I were staring at each other incredulously.
In any circumstance these were fighting words. An assault of this magnitude on anyone’s name, ex-con or not, is cause for some sort of retaliatory measure. But the thief directed his comments to my brother, telling him that he had passed by much earlier looking for him.
Immediately all suspicion fell on him and if we had any doubt before, now we believed that he was just returning to the scene of the crime.
My uncle then pointed out to the man standing before us that it would have to be him if for no other reason that he had a blemished record.
“You know that I know you are a thief,” my uncle stated.
This time the accused standing before us muttered something to the effect that car-breaking was not his style.
But if he thought that was the end of his public pillory it was not.
My nephew appeared and immediately offered, “It is he who went in there”, gesturing towards the sole bandit in our midst. Not a word from the target.
My nephew persisted that it had to be him since nothing was safe once he was present. The exploits of the thief are legendary in my hometown.
Once my nephew went to the “bread man”, bought a leadpipe, put it down and turned away momentarily. By the time he looked back the leadpipe was gone and the thief was present. My nephew challenged him and he sheepishly returned the item.
Persona non grata
It is his nature to steal and even when the chances are 100 per cent that he’ll be caught, he will still make the attempt. The thief has never tried to avoid that label of crook, robber and the other assorted criminal titles.
Once someone took a chance on him and gave him a job patching the potholes in the road. Almost instantly asphalt disappeared. Then workers complained about missing things.
He is persona non grata in most supermarkets, gas stations and small businesses in the district. Upon his appearance, residents promptly start checking for wallets and other small items of value.
I am truly amazed by his easy ability to accept a life of crime without even cringing when he is called such. His approach explains to me why it is hard to change some people.
* * * * *
By the way, it seems as though I ruffled quite a few Customs feathers with last week’s column about the long wait in the Bridgetown Port. The blaring headline Held Hostage By Customs created the impression that it was all the fault of customs officers that I spent an entire day in the Port. It was not all theirs. The blame rests with the entire system of port workers and associated agencies.
On the bright side: I seem to have added to my fan base by a few readers.
• Antoinette Connell is a News Editor. Email [email protected]