A few weeks ago as I was winding down after a rather busy day, the telephone rang with an unfamiliar number displayed in the digital readout.
Since it was a local call and more than likely not someone trying to sell me something, I decided to take the chance and answer it rather than letting it go to voicemail. I often wonder how many really interesting calls I might have missed by opting not to answer and subsequently not receiving messages by the caller. But this particular call would prove to be interesting.
Upon answering the phone, I was greeted by a very sweet "grandmotherly" voice who asked if I might be Jerome Kinderman. Of course I let her know that I was he and asked who she was in return. Although the name Betsie Grimes didn't instantly ring a bell and the reason for the call, it didn't take too long for me to realize that I might very well be in for an old-fashioned tongue lashing.
You see, Ms. Grimes is the author of a recent letter to the editor that caught my attention because of her sad plight — having had one's home burgled twice within the space of one month is not only disturbing, but the odds of this occurring in Lodi must be amazingly high.
However, I remember well arriving at home shortly after moving to Lodi in 1990 and realizing that things were not quite right. Someone had found their way into our home and removed a number of objects, not the least of which was a brand-new Sony Discman. I recalled the sting of having my own sense of safety violated by unknown criminals walking around in the home I shared with my family. So I really do understand what Betsie had gone through.
The reason Ms. Grimes took the time to find my telephone number and dial me up had to do with a number of comments that had been posted online in response to her letter. She was concerned as to why I had thought her stupid for not doing certain things to secure her belongings or at least to make it harder for the bad guys to find ways into her home. I assured her that in no way did I think she was stupid, as my comments were offered to help her and perhaps others from suffering from the same types of crimes.
As our conversation moved forward that evening, Betsie revealed other things about her situation that I had already guessed might be the case (and had indicated as much in my online comments). For instance, she told me that although she had a good idea as to who the perpetrators were, she had no real proof to offer to the police. And there were other things we talked about that made both of us realize that owing to our mutual desire to be trusting, we often make it much too easy for the crooks to get away with far too much.
All in all my conversation with my new-found friend made me realize things aren't always as they seem. She obviously agreed, because by the end of the telephone call she was convinced that I really didn't think she was stupid at all — just a nice lady who needed to make sure her doors were locked and her treasures were locked safely away. In fact, she admitted that she took to heart some of the suggestions I made online and was in the process of implementing better security measures as a result.
I admire the pluck and determination that had Betsie taking the time to hunt me down and call me onto the virtual carpet to read me the riot act. As I venture forth as a guest columnist for the Lodi News-Sentinel, I hope others might take the time to write or call if they've got a bone to pick about anything I might propose. To that end, I'll now add my telephone number at the end of my column for anyone interested in taking me on in a little civil discourse (with emphasis on civility).
Jerry Kinderman is a retired 22-year Lodi resident, computer software developer and writer. He can be reached at 209-625-8154 or firstname.lastname@example.org.