law of the jungle

I've spent all my writing energy today filling out the police report. 

Oh, do I have your attention now?

It all started when we went to the zoo.

We giggled at the brown bears, who slept like winos on a C train, on their backs, with legs spread and propped up on the walls, heavy paws slung over their drool-glossy faces.

that fuzzy vertical mass on the right
it's not a tree
it's not the wall of the cave
it's a leg
yep
this is a pic
of this bear
's undercarriage
basically

grundle on your right

The boys swung on the bars waiting for their turn on the carousel. They scampered up the rocks at the Snow Leopard exhibit. They held hands for long enough for me to take a picture of it.

nobody move
nobody breathe
for god's sake
nobody say "aww how sweet"

okay
got it

I even remembered not to leave the ziploc baggie of raisins and cereal in the stroller (haha! Fuck you, crows! Not today!) when we went into Willawong Station to pay $2 for 2 popsicle sticks covered in birdseed that my 2 sons held aloft until a bright green budgie landed on each stick and the boys flinched and nearly dropped them but didn't.

It was a great zoo trip.

As I pushed the stroller down the street where I'd parked, I saw a man in black clothes standing next to my car.

First thought: oh shit, is he breaking into my car right now? I'll testify but tell the U.S. Marshalls I want my new identity to be Bronagh Kavanaugh, and Ryan will be Connor but spelled the Irish way so Concobhar, and the boys get to pick their own new names and spell them with any letters they want even if they don't make any sense, like who put a "b" in Connor? A POET, that's who. A POET OF MY HOMELAND.

As I approached, I realized that the man was wearing a uniform. Who'd have thought that would be worse news.

Second thought: oh shit, is he giving me a ticket? A FUCKING parking ticket? Are you fucking kidding me? There's no sign! Where's the sign! I'm going to photograph this entire fucking block because this is a free street and you do NOT have to pay to park here and if this motherfucker is writing me a ticket... 

"Hello?" I called out from a safe distance, not a little sharply.

"This you?" He asked.

"Yep." I said.

"Sorry," he said. "You were broken into."

"Oh, thank God," I said.

The man in black was a zoo security guard, standing in a sea of shimmering blue pebbles that used to be my passenger side window, visibly confused about why I was so excited to see him.

"I thought you were giving me a parking ticket," I explained.

"No... I'm sorry, you were broken into. Your car." He spoke very clearly, certain that I was an imbecile.

"Yeah! I see that," I said, smiling, still just really psyched about not getting a parking ticket.


so
just to be clear
in addition to being the victim
of petty theft
and destruction of property

i will not be receiving
any kind of
i don't know
citation
for
say
parking
or anything like that
correct?

sweet!

"Was there anything on this seat?" He asked me.

I arrived at the car, put the brake on the stroller, and said, "No. I mean, yeah, there was an empty handbag."

"Empty?"

"Well..." I searched my memory. "I think there was a pair of ear buds in there. And... probably some change."

Chicken piped up, his voice small, his eyes huge from where he peeked around the stroller frame and the rubble. "What happened?"

"Someone broke our window to steal a bag from our car," I said.

"Oh," said Chicken.

"Uh oh," said Buster.

Everyone laughed.

Another zoo security guard arrived and the two officers gloved up and picked tiny pieces of glass out of my car. They checked the car seats, shook out the floor mats. As I was about to leave one of the officers shook his head and said, "there's too much glass dust in this crevice. We can't let this fly around in your car. I pulled out a pack of baby wipes and he scrubbed in the crevice. "There you go," he said, smiling at Chicken. "Safe and sound."

I called the insurance company on the way home and they made an appointment for us to have the window replaced Monday morning.

As inconveniences go, this is really not bad.

A parking ticket sucks way worse.

Sure, it costs less money than the broken glass deductible on our car insurance, but a parking ticket is basically a slacker citation, a slip of concrete evidence that you, sir, are the criminal! Or the dolt who thought it was Sunday. Or the entitled yup yup who thought "surely not me, not here, not outside WILLIAMS SONOMA! This is a Lexus, for goodness' sake! Nobody tickets a Lexus!"

Any time you get a parking ticket, you have to go home that night knowing three fucking things:

1. this was completely foreseeable.
2. this was completely avoidable.
3. you still fucking did it.

Sorry, kitten. Law of the jungle. If you park, you pay - you can choose whether you pay $1.75 at the meter, or $44 to the Man. This is ALL you.

This break-in? NOT me.

Yep, I'm saying that, if given the choice, I would rather pay $250 for a new window, file an insurance claim, file a police report, clean out my garage so I can park my car in there for the first time since we have lived in this house, and go to sleep tonight knowing that a stranger's ear wax is mixing with mine as he adjusts my ear buds more snugly into his ear canals - I would rather do all of that than get a $44 parking ticket.

Because nothing feels better than innocence.

PS:

Chicken asked me why a person broke into our car.

I explained that this person probably needed money, maybe to buy food or something else important, and he or she thought that this was the best way to get that money, by stealing.

I said, "we should just close our eyes and hope that this person gets the help he or she needs so he or she can stop breaking into cars and stealing bags, okay?"

Chicken thought about this.

Then he said, "should we give her or him a hug?" I said, "who?" And he said, "the person who needs help."

I've rarely been so proud of my sweet babe, but I can't say for sure why - was it his compassion? His patience? Or the fact that he correctly used both the male and female singular third person pronouns?

That's my boy.



PPS:

I lied to the zoo officer.

There was one other thing in the bag.

There was an unpaid parking ticket.

I had to run into the molten chocolate cakery the other day. Seriously, I HAD TO.

I was in there for less than 3 minutes. It would have taken just as long to PAY for the parking; our electronic meters are so screamingly slow that every time I swipe my card, I expect to hear the AOL dial-up sounds from the opening credits of "You've Got Mail."

But when I ran back out with my box of Hot Cakes, there he was. Clad in navy blue and "just doing his job, ma'am." I didn't try to talk him out of it, not because I knew he was right, but because gracious kindness and the illusion that they are in control usually manipulates people into doing what I want them to do, especially when those people are used to being abused by strangers.

(Hey, humans are animals, too. I am no better than a monkey who eats his brother's fleas so he can later eat his brother's dinner.)

But it didn't work. I got a parking ticket. And the whole rest of the day I sat in my car snarling because I knew three fucking things:

1. that was completely foreseeable.
2. that was completely avoidable.
3. I still fucking did it.

But hey, law of the jungle. You park, you pay.

Joke's on you, window-smasher. You ran off with a state-issued  slacker citation for $44, about $43 in loose change, and some earbuds. Law of the jungle, motherfucker. You steal it, you pay it. But you can keep those earbuds.

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