Friday, December 7, 2007

Canuck the Schmuck

Well, another day, another way to feel bad. I swear, this will not become the wah wah, poor Canuck blog, I'm just having a bad run. Today I am feeling really miserable about something I did not do yesterday. Max and I were playing counting games on the computer around 5 pm and I looked out the window and saw a suspicious kid on the neighbour's stairs. This is an apartment building that has been empty for years and it's only the last couple of months that people have moved in, so I don't know who should and shouldn't be there, but there was something funky about this kid. Where he was standing was totally hidden from the street and all other neighbours, he was in a perfect spot. He was looking around (for some reason he made me think of Snidely Whiplash), carrying a black knapsack and I just got a bad vibe. He jumped up onto a railing and looked inside one of the apartments, then ran up the stairs. I can't see the apartment doors from my place, but I did notice movement inside the apartment. Now it's starting to get dark and I realize if he really lived there he would have turned on the lights. I called Hubby and told him that I thought I might be watching a robbery, I still wasn't sure. I asked him how to call the cops (I know, four years and I can't remember if it's 066 or 060, I wish they had 911, that I could remember!). Hubby told me to stay out of it, not to call, the police wouldn't do anything anyway.

I tried to keep watching, without being seen, but I had to leave the window a couple of times and didn't actually see anyone come out. A half hour later, I saw people go into that apartment, turn on the lights and then the parade began of people going in and out, yelling on cel phones, the building owner running around and checking their security lights etc.. So, I KNOW they were robbed and I did nothing. NOTHING! My instinct was to call the cops, but I didn't follow it. Sadly, I was unsure of my ability to express to them in Spanish what was going on. If I had been in Canada I could have said "There's something funky going on next door, don't know for sure, but it's not right, there's a suspicious kid who I think might be robbing the place". For the life of me, I couldn't come up with the Spanish. Add to that my fear of the police here and I pushed my instincts aside and didn't call. I didn't call. I didn't call. I can't stop thinking about how I didn't call. I feel like a schmuck, an idiot, I didn't do what my gut told me to do. Picture me banging my head with my fist screaming "Idiot, doofus, loser, asshole, stupid", and you have some idea of how bad I am feeling.

In addition to the guilt, I am feeling paranoid about my own house! In reality, we are not the easiest target on the block, bars on all the windows, a dog in the yard, the only entrance is extremely visible to all the neighbours and a busy street. I am not about to install an alarm system for a tv, dvd and computer, all our valuables in the world cost less than the alarm. But. We have a motion sensor light that we bought years ago that I will have installed this weekend. I want to get the locksmith out to get an extra bolt on the door. I am having Hubby back up the thousands of photos on my computer (more valuable than the box itself). I am going to take pictures of the serial numbers on our tv and dvd and computer. I am carrying my camera with me, I couldn't bring myself to leave it in the house this morning. I don't know what else I can do to feel safer, but if I think of it, I will do it.

I am not a frightened person by nature, in fact, when people tell me that Cancun is not safe, I say "Ech, safer than most places I have lived, if you are going to be a victim, there's nothing you can do, it's not so bad here". But, today I am feeling insecure. Guilty. Paranoid. I know it will pass, it always does, and I am feeling better after a chat with Rivergirl. She put a good spin on things for me, telling me I should feel good because I have "good person" instincts, I wanted to do the right thing, I just froze and didn't. I've now talked to my other neighbours and we have agreed to watch out for each other and they agreed that I should not have called, that the cops wouldn't have done anything anyway. A student this morning told me a horrible story about three men breaking into her place recently while she and her dad were home and holding them at knife point while they stole everything. She said the police NEVER showed up! So, I am feeling a bit better after that too. I guess crime happens everywhere, I have just been pretty complacent about things here and a wake up call is a good thing. We'll do what we can to be as safe as we can and that's all we can do.

And this weekend has GOT to be better, right?


My Way said...

I know the feeling of wondering if you should even bother calling the cops. With the vandalism on my car I just decided it wasn't worth it and there was no way they could find the person. Things don't work the same way back home so it won't work for insurance purposes anyways.

However, my friend had her purse stolen from her apartment and one night when I was over the same guy came back for more. We called the cops (after trying to kill him ourselves) and they came in 10 minutes.

There are other instances where the cops have been on my side and helped me which I appreciate.

It really doesn't hurt to call for something that doesn't seem right, and if you are unsure if your gut is right or not, just tell the cops the worst of what it could be. Like "someone is robbing my neighbours right now" versus, "I see some weirdo hanging around my neighbourhood".

You've got to play the game too and unfortunately you wanted to do what was normal for back home. Which is COMPLETELY RIGHT. Just next time, do it with a "twist" so they pay attention.

Think of it this way, at least now you are going to take precautions to protect yourselves now. I didn't do everything I should have either until the downstairs neighbours were robbed.

All of it sucks really.

CancunCanuck said...

Thanks chica, I figured you of all people would get it. It is nice to hear that the cops came during your home invasion (it's really the least they could do, yes?). Here's hoping you never have any reason to call them again....

Theresa in Mèrida said...

Canucka (do you like your new apodo?),
You told your husband. Maybe you could have done more, but maybe you should ask him why he felt that you shouldn't have gotten involved, there might be reasons you don't know.
But then again, there is the Yucatecan "ni modo" attitude and the ingrained feeling that the govt isn't gonna help the little person.
What I am trying to say in my rambling way is that stuff happens you did what you were able to do at the time, if there is a next time you will do something different. Now you know that inaction (for you) is not a viable solution. Great, you got some insight into who you are, stop beating yourself up about it.
I hate to sound like some aging hippee (even if I am one at heart) but the past is done, the future isn't here yet, you only have now.

CancunCanuck said...

Theresa, good thing I love ageing hippies, haha. I thank you for your insight and you are correct! I am in a much better mood about everything today, I promise to be full of positivity in my next post (it's more my nature anyway!) I asked Hubby why I shouldn't call and he said he was frightened that there would be recriminations, that it would be obvious who called and they would target me next. Maybe he's paranoid, or maybe he's lived in Mexico long enough to have seen things I don't want to hear about. Whatever the case, I didn't feel good about the decision and will do differently next time (if I need a next time!)

CancunCanuck said...

p.s., Love "Canucka". :)

Jonna said...

I also think that you have a good heart and now know that you will not be happy unless you try to do the right thing.

The relationship between the police and the people needs to change but both sides are resistant and the fear that things will only get worse if you call the police is very strong. I hate to say this but I do think it is worse here in QRoo because the corruption is so wide spread. I just like to believe that there are cops here who want to do the right thing if given a chance. That standoff will never change unless people start asking for the services from the police that they are entitled to.

As a retired cop, I agree that slightly exaggerating the situation or at least not expressing whatever doubts you have about it will get you a faster response. That's true in the US as well. Police resources are thin all over and if you are unsure if there is a problem then you will go to the bottom of the heap. Quietly I used to tell my very close friends in SF that if their life was in danger they should say the building was on fire for a really fast response.

Perhaps that is also true in Cancun, had the bomberos arrived while he was burglering the building no doubt he would have fled.

Jennifer said...

I think that you did ok. The fact that you wanted to do something shows what type of person that you are.

I wish I had more to say, to help you, but I don't. I do know though that when I read your DH didn't want you to call, my first thought was so that you all weren't targeted next. I hope that you are beginning to feel a bit better about things now.

CancunCanuck said...

Jonna, I agree there are lots of problems with corruption in QRoo (well, all of Mexico). It saddens me that I cannot teach my son that "the policeman is your friend" as I would have in Canada. I appreciate your insight with your law enforcement background, puts things in perspective, thanks.

Jennifer, thanks chica, I am feeling quite a bit better now. :)

Islagringo said...

Having had my house broken into 8 times in the past 10 months, I think I can relate to your story. If I knew that one of my neighbors had seen the culprit and done nothing, I would be furious with them. I would not have expected them to get personally involved or to even call the police. I would have liked them to have gotten an accurate description of the culprit though so I could try to figure out who it was myself. A neighbor? Or a complete stranger?

I totally agree from personal experience that it would have done you no good to call the police. You would still be waiting for them to show up. And if they do show up, they do nothing. Even when our back door was pried off the hinges and the wooden door broken through, the police just shrugged their shoulders and WOULD NOT file a report. So forget the police. You did ok by not calling them. I think you should stop beating yourself up over this. Just make a plan for what you will do the next time you should see something like this happening. And, heaven forbid, if it should ever happen to you.

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