Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Locking the Gate - A Sad Day For Us All

Today was a sad day.

This was the day that I had to scratch out the combination on the back of a padlock. I have had that lock for 15 years and never had to scratch out the combo. And that's mainly because I didn't have to really use it. But that was before today.

Today I put the lock onto a gate that is part of a fenced-off area behind my home. This is an area that we keep our bagged-up bottles and cans for recycling. Over the weekend, some moron decided he or she could simply go through this gate and grab the recycling for him or herself. So in order to lock up the area and maintain the security of anything we would keep in there, I chose to go find that old lock I had somewhere, scratch out the combination on the back, and then place it on the gate.

Today was a sad day.

A combination lock on a green fence behind my home.
The main reason for such sadness is because I recall the days of old. I recall so many times that my mom used to wish for visit - her in Huntington Beach in Orange County and me in San Diego. We would talk about my visiting and she would always tell me: "the door will be unlocked." It was her quaint way of telling me that any time I wished to stop by, the door would be open for me. I was always welcome.

Growing up in this home in Huntington Beach, I was accustomed to the door being unlocked. The notion of locking it didn't come to mind. I grew knowing there was no real outer threat that would attempt to break into our home and cause harm. They couldn't break in. The door was left unlocked.
And there were even some days - especially those hot summer days - when the door was left open, with only the screen door closed to keep out the flies mainly. I grew knowing that the world was a safe place and there was no threat from outside sources who would not want our best.

Maybe it was because my mom grew up in the deep woods, up in the upper peninsula of Michigan where the only reason someone might break into a house would be to get warm. With a population still of only 327 people, the village (yup village) of Detour, Michigan would be my mother's hometown, and it would be a place where doors could always be left open, since neighbors were few and far between and if nearby they would be neighborly. Now, even my dad who grew up in some tougher parts of Detroit, somehow he too would permit this "open door" policy in the Southern California town of Huntington Beach in the 1970's.

Such a mentality may appear naive to most folks. But such judgments must come from a mind bent  and twisted by the dishonorable acts of the dishonorable ... those hoodlums and thieves who think that what they can break into and reach belongs to them somehow. These selfish nincompoops know not the consequences of their actions: the loss they force upon another, the distrust they foster, the crime that robs people of more than their belongings, valuables and bottles and cans.

These thieves that break with law, the most important of which is "natural law" (look it up), know not that they disrupt the very fiber of a community and tear down a foundation upon which we all could stand proud and stand safe. They end the innocent days of a home in the woods where the most harmful intruder may show up as a varmint looking for warmth from the winter snow. They force a society to build security systems, hidden cameras, and combination locks that must - in unfortunate circumstances - be used to fortify our belongings.

They create for us all, a day where we must protect ourselves from our very own. They create a day where brothers and sisters have to watch over their shoulders. They create a very sad day.

James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer who wishes to be more like the Who's down in Whoville after having his shit stolen. He can be reached at www.LegacyProductions.org or at the Food4Less recycling center in Lemon Grove every few months returning bottles and cans. No matter what. 


  1. This stinks, Jim! Thank you for sharing such a personal story...

    1. Thanks! Yes, this was ultimately a story about the love for my mom. Innocence at the deepest.