Darrell Huckaby - The days of unlocked doors are over

People who aren't from around here sometimes have a hard time believing me when I tell them how it was growing up in Porterdale. They just don't get how a little mill village can seem so idyllic. But many of you remember what it was like to live in this area - be it Porterdale or Covington or somewhere "out in the country" back in the '50s and '60s.

We never locked our doors, for instance, when we left the house.

And I mean never.

My daddy always said that locks were invented to keep honest people out, meaning that a thief, if he were so inclined, would simply pick the lock or break a window or do whatever he had to do to get inside.

I remember being at the beach one summer and trying to call my girlfriend on the telephone. Y'all remember how it was back in the days before cell phones. Making a long distance call was a big deal and required large sums of money in the form of nickels, dimes and quarters - mostly quarters - and something one did only rarely.

But I had been out of town for three days and was determined to hear Kim Puckett's voice. So I got a pocket full of change and manipulated the pay phone and made a call.

Except, out of habit, I called my own number, instead. Of course. we weren't there so you wouldn't suspect that anyone would answer.

You would have been wrong.

Bud Cason, the kid who lived across the street answered - on the first ring, if memory serves me well.

I was more than a little confused, as you might imagine, but when I figured out what had happened, I made a very intelligent comment, full of insight into the situation. I said, "Bud, what are you doing at our house?"

"Mama's watching soaps on our TV," was his perfectly logical explanation.

It made sense to me, and I wasn't the least bit upset that he had walked through the front door of our house and made himself at home in our absence. I was upset that I had wasted all my spare change talking to Bud instead of Kim Puckett.

But the point is, we didn't have to worry about thieves and low-life scum-sucking human garbage breaking into our homes and taking our stuff - what little of it there was.

Same thing with the car. When we went to town, we never locked the car when we got out. If we had done that, we would have had to roll the windows up. (No AC back in the day, understand.) When we got back to the car, it would have been hot and stuffy and we would have had to go to the trouble of unlocking the door to get back in the car.

Obviously, it was a different time.

Now. most of us lock our doors against the thieves of the world, and when we are out and about we take great precautions to protect ourselves from the aforementioned low-life scum-sucking human garbage. And our cars come with all sorts of gadgets and sensors and alarms designed to protect us and our valuables.

And yet it is still so very, very easy to become a victim. My lovely wife, Lisa, found out just how easy earlier this week.

Lisa and several of her friends are in training for October's three-day breast cancer walk. They will walk 60 miles over a three-day period on the weekend of the Georgia-LSU game. Yes, I measure time by the Georgia football schedule. I bet I'm not the only one. Their training regimen consists, as far as I can tell, of abstinence, talking to one another on the phone a lot and walking long distances in the hot sun four or five times a week.

Wednesday morning, they all went for a little 10-mile hike on the Arabia Mountain trail, in nearby DeKalb County. Lisa left her car at the relatively new Pole Bridge Trail Head parking lot, off Ga. Highway 212.

She was very careful to lock her purse and other valuables in the trunk of her car for safe keeping. No throwing everything under the front seat or leaving it in plain sight for her.

When she and her friends returned from their walk. they found not one but two of her car windows shattered and her purse gone - along with her credit cards, driver's license, debit card, check book and more than a little of her dignity.

"I felt so violated," she told me. If you've been a victim of such a crime, you understand how she felt. If you haven't, it might just be a matter of time. Such is the world we live in - and that is so sad.

The saddest part of the whole sordid mess is the nonchalance of the officer who answered her 911 call. "Happens every day," he told her. "This is my third trip out here this week. We'll never catch them, but I doubt they'll use anything except the cash and maybe a credit card."

Wow, that's a relief.

Lisa felt violated. I just felt mad - and I hope the officer is right. I hope they never catch the low-life scum-sucking human garbage that broke her windows and stole her stuff, because if they do, there won't be enough of him left to put on trial.

Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.