Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Flute is Safe

This post will be a little out of character. A lack of time has prohibited writing lately. Don’t expect regular postings until sometime in September. We’ll get back to the standard formula then of pretty pictures, local history and encouraging readers to share history.

Between now and then, expect some more information on the upcoming New Albany Historic Home Tour – Saturday September 9th. For crying out loud, buy a ticket! My sanity depends on it. I don’t care if you go on the tour – just by a ticket! See for more information.

Now back to this story. I recently experienced a day that was uniquely New Albanian. I seriously doubt the chain of events I’m about to relate could or would ever happen any where else in the Universe.

This was a day in the life of a New Albanian (me) and I suppose someday it may be considered history. So I’m putting it on this site. It’s all true. No embellishment at all, but I have changed some names to protect identities.

Friday, July 21st. It started normally enough. I worked a half day and took the afternoon off. I had stuff to do. This was the date of Historic Landmarks moveable feast – an event I was looking forward to.

I was on my way home from work when things got interesting. Pulling into my driveway I noticed a neighbor with a phone in her hand standing across the street from my house. I pull in the driveway and she runs up to my car.

“There’s robbery in progress at Tina’s house! I’m on the phone with the police!”

Tina’s house is across the street from mine and apparently another vigilant neighbor had witnessed a break in and called the police. She told me a skinny white guy had knocked on Tina’s front door and when nobody answered (Tina was not at home) he’d tried to kick it in. Failing in that attempt, he’d walked to a side door and smashed stained glass in the door and got in the house. The vigilant neighbor called the police and then I pulled into my driveway. Keep in mind this is happening at 1pm in the afternoon.

So we walk over to the sidewalk in front of Tina’s house and stand there. We can look directly into her kitchen window from our vantage point. We see the burglar standing in the kitchen. He’s just standing there looking back at us.

I felt the impulse to wave at him. Maybe he thought my neighbor with the phone just happened to be chatting with a friend?

The police replied promptly – arriving in minutes after the call. He pulls up as we’re standing there, gets out of his car and stands next to us. We’re all looking at this guy. He’s looking back. I’m thinking this may be the dumbest burglar on the face of the planet.

The officer starts heading towards the house and finally the burglar starts moving. He exits the same door he entered and takes off through the backyard heading towards the alley. The Officer pursues on foot.

I’d be lying if I told you I considered, even for a millisecond, joining the chase. It didn’t even cross my mind. However, in hindsight I know that even in my loafers I most certainly could have kept up with the guy. I have a lot of good qualities, but I guess crime fighting superhero is not among them. I let the police do their job.

So we’re standing there. We rehash the chain of events. We wonder if the Officer has caught the guy. A few minutes pass. I see a guy walking up the street towards us. It’s a neighbor that I’ve not met. He introduces himself and right away I notice something is not right with him.

He’s got nothing to do with the burglary. He’s totally insane. And he picked this exact moment in time to walk down and visit. In all seriousness, he was a sick individual. In the next few days I would find out he was suffering from a bi-polar disorder and had stopped taking his medication.

But at this moment in time, he’d come down to chat. After some incoherent babble about the Mexican mafia he informed us he was trying out for the Indianapolis Colts that weekend and that he could run a 4.1 second forty yard dash.

Then he proceeded to run some forties for us.

At the same time I notice two women walking down the street towards us. They’re barefoot. They’re rather large (no offense intended here, just trying to frame the moment). One is wearing a tube top. The other is wearing “care bear” pajamas. The inform us they live on 11th Street and were listening to the police scanner. They walked up to take a look at the action. They said they even saw a skinny white guy running down 11th Street.

Satisfied that the action was over, they waddled back down the street, I assume to continue scanner monitoring and looking for action.

Our disturbed neighbor is a bit winded after running a few forties. The heat index was well over a 100 and he’d had quite a workout.

The Officer returns, via another patrolman’s car. He didn’t catch him! Our disturbed neighbor introduces himself and informs the Officer that he’d arrested him for his first DUI years ago. We all got a chuckle out of that.

A very distressed Tina drives up and bursts into her home. The Officer accompanies her inside and we wait for about ten minutes. I’m thinking the burglar got away with some jewelry, dvd player, cash, or something else of easily portable value.

Tina let us know that everything was still there, except her flute! “Flute” I thought? Did she just say flute? Then the Officer walked around the home from the backyard.

“Tina, we found your flute.” That’s right. The burglar had dropped the flute in the backyard after the Officer started his pursuit. The flute was safe.

Nothing was gone from the home. This was the dumbest burglar on the face of the planet.

So ended the excitement on “the Bough” about thirty minutes after it had started.

I proceeded to the Moveable Feat and enjoyed it immensely. This was the annual meeting for the southern regional office of Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. Over 100 people from around the state were in town. Our host’s on Main Street did a wonderful job.

Despite the mother of all thunderstorms blowing through, the evening went off without a hitch. A walking tour kicked off the event – luckily it ended before the storm hit. We only had a few minor interruptions by the occasional passing pick-up truck honking a horn with occupants giving the standard New Albany greeting of “Waaaah Whoooo!” along with a friendly wave.

I bailed on the desert portion of the feast, suffering from a pounding headache that I attribute to drinking one to many glasses of some incredibly sweet Huber wines. But before drifting off to sleep I took stock of this very unusual day:

*There’s never a dull moment in this town.

*New Albany is full of people with wonderfully colorful personalities.

*If you see a guy running down the street with a musical instrument, please call the police immediately.

*At the end of each trying day, know that we’ve still got a lot to be proud of in New Albany and we can show it off pretty darn well when we work at it.


New Alb Annie said...

Ted, having lived in New Albany since the age of 19, I have absolutely NO problem with believing any of this amazing tale or in any of the characters that appear.

I have had more of these types of experiences than I can remember, and I expect there will be many more to come.

Stolen flutes, tube tops, bipolar Colts recruits--New Albany has it all.

ceece said...


I laughed the whole way through this post, and you know I agree with Annie, I can totally see this stuff going down.

Sigh, I would have liked to see you chasing down criminals in your loafers though.

Thanks for sharing!

witheringintuition said...

Hi Ted. I think that your brilliant petty thief may have paid me a visit last night/this morning. Actually he seems to have made his way around town. He got into my car easy enough (I'm not sure why the alarm didn't sound), but he couldn't figure out how to work the simple latch to open my middle storage container - poor guy. Instead of pressing the button, he ripped off the entire top. Still I was lucky. He broke out the windows in other cars around the neighborhood.

This incident also reminded me why I like New Albany. My neighbor was kind enough to, stop on his way to work, pick up my paperwork from all over the block. It was much nicer to be told that my car was broken into rather than walk up and down the street gathering papers and wondering what happened. New Albany has great potential.

Thanks for the post it gave me a needed laugh today.


Brandon W. Smith said...

I just read this a bit late. I can't tell you how surreal it was to read that post while sitting in an open-air taverna in Cyprus surrounded by the sounds of Greek language and music. Surreal.

That said, I don't doubt any of it for a minute. The longer I live in New Albany, the more I've come to accept and appreciate the odd mix of people that rub elbows in the city core. How odd we must seem to the characters in your post as well, and yet we're all New Albanians.