$20 for a hug

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dave’s been driving me crazy for weeks in search of a chipper to make mulch out of a mountain of brush and limbs he cut this spring, and not your ordinary 2.5 or 5 horsepower chipper. no folks, we need a 10 hp chipper so we can chip everything on the property and in the future any dead bodies we happen upon. we also have to have the exact 10 hp chipper that our old neighbor had because dave’s familiar with that one and it’s "the best." however, we (and "we" in this case will be a synonym for "dave") don’t want to buy the 10 hp chipper brand new, that would be too easy. no, instead we need to obsessively check craigslist and wait for one to show up there. after weeks of searching, low and behold dave finds the exact 10 hp chipper like our old neighbor had in the hands of a fellow that lives 45 minutes away. let me briefly mention that the reason he knows we need a 10 hp version is because a few weeks ago we drove 45 minutes to look at a 5 hp one but that apparently was not powerful enough for our 10 hp needs. so saturday morning we set off in our big, old, awesome van with no air conditioning in the miserable heat for our 45 minute (one way) trip to get our 10 hp chipper just like our old neighbor had. that deal was completed and dave was thrilled with his purchase. we decided on the way home to detour into west nashville and pick up a couch that a store was holding for us, since we were already out in the van. here’s where the story gets really interesting…if you’ve only been skimming at this point you may want to pay closer attention.

while i’m paying for the couch, dave & a fellow from the store head out to the van to load the couch. i’m walking out of the store a minute or two later and i think i hear people yelling - or maybe it's music? (in nashville, a.k.a "music city," it's pretty typical for random music to be playing just about anywhere.) no, it's definitely yelling - actually two people yelling at each other. i should mention that dave has become generally a bit confrontational of late with complete strangers in situations where he perceives an injustice has occurred. so my immediate thought was “sweet jesus, who the hell is dave yelling at?” as i round the corner i look up and see a girl shouting and a guy has her in a headlock. wait a minute, that’s not a guy - that’s dave! i haven't a clue what’s going on except that dave's yelling to call the police, she's shouting out for help and insisting "he’s hurting me,” the guy from the store is standing nearby looking incredibly befuddled and i’m thinking that dave is about to get his teeth knocked out by some vigilante-type passerby who will jump in and stop the "assault." apparently a lot of life can happen in a minute or two and here's what i missed: dave opens up the back of the van and finds a girl leaning over the passenger seat looking back at him. they're equally surprised to see the other and both freeze for a moment. dave's wondering how in the world i beat him out to the van and then the "wait, you're not kym" light bulb switches on at which point he yells “oh hell no” and takes off in hot pursuit of a thief and our stereo. even with a head start she really wasn't much of a match for dave and he was able to catch her pretty quickly though not before she threw our stereo on the sidewalk. once he has her controlled he moves from that fantastic headlock i witnessed and holds onto her by the wrists. she was putting up quite a belligerent fight and all the while contending - quite convincingly to my honest ears - that she didn’t steal our stereo. i quickly realized that while becoming "a bit intolerant of bullshit" in his older years (to use his words), fortunately for all of us, dave's not just jumping random girls walking past our van. the evidence was on the sidewalk and if that weren't enough, while he held our squirming, young, would be thief i went back to the van and found that the little jackass had not only ripped the stereo out, pulled everything out of the glove compartment and thrown it all over the van but for reasons unknown she had also torn the carpet up.


the police were called and fortunately the girl started to calm down. after admitting that she did steal the stereo and accepting that she would be arrested shortly she was able to convince dave that she was no longer a flight risk and he could release her wrists, perceptively muttering “i wouldn’t be too hard to catch anyway." i asked her what the point was and how much was she going to get for the stereo and was shocked when she looked at me dejectedly and said “twenty bucks.” seriously, you're going to risk a felony charge for $20??? that was shocking to me and i realized i could never relate to the kind of desperation, whatever the cause, that would lead you to make such a decision.

several minutes of banter regarding her sorry situation followed while we waited for the police, interrupted only by a colorful and fortunately brief visit from who we're assuming to be her boyfriend/accomplice.  he was very angry and seemed prepared to vent said anger on dave or myself. upon his departure i walked up to dave, took his wallet and whispered “i’m giving her 20 bucks” just so he didn’t freak out when i actually did it. i handed her the twenty, at which point she looked shocked and to her credit (at least as much credit as a thief deserves) she refused. i told her to take the money but that we were going to press charges because what she was doing was unacceptable and it wasn’t fair to people. and that’s when the magic happened…wait for it…our thief hugged me and thanked me profusely, tears running down her face. my favorite part of the story is that after we finished with the police and as she sat handcuffed in the back of the cruiser (i believe that is correct copper language) she mouthed “thank you” to me several times which made me respond “good luck” and made dave laugh at me.

1618709-1724702-thumbnail.jpgwe then had to go downtown to the police station and press charges and we’ll have to go back to appear for her trial. the process is a bit of a pain in the ass but the police officer was very happy we took the time. apparently there's been a rash of break-ins in this particular area. so on this particular saturday we left the house at noon and got home at 6:30 after spending a very hot day in a very hot van, up one chipper and one couch but sans stereo. all because dave had to have a chipper…at least i got a hug.  thank god she didn't try to steal the chipper - dave would have killed her!

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