Working With What We’ve Got

You may recall that, when I retired the first time, I bought a bike. Then someone stole it from our “secure” garage. So I bought a second one with a sturdy lock. The next day, someone stole it. And the lock.

As a result of this revelation that our secure facility is, in reality, an open marketplace for the light of finger, we have moved items stored in the garage that we would not want stolen and replaced them with things that, if they disappeared, we wouldn’t mind so much.

With the desirable items gone, we figured that would be the end of it. It wasn’t.

One day we helped my in-laws clear out some junk and volunteered to take it to the tip (US: Dump) for them as we live very near our Council-run Recycling Centre. (Aside: this is called an Amenity Tip, roughly translated to US English as “Free Dump,” and a sign reading, “Amenity Tip” points the way to it. When we first moved here, I thought Amenity Tip was the name of a village.)

Anyway, we brought some items destined for the scrap yard home with us and piled them in our allotted space, with a notion to take them to the tip the next time we fancied spending our Sunday morning sitting in a queue at the dump. But before we could do that, someone stole it.

But a secure garage? They\’ve pretty much got all night.

Not all of it (shame about that) but a few items that were worthless to us but, apparently, not to others. That was when we decided it might be to our advantage to keep items in the garage that we actually wanted stolen, instead of just not minding when they disappeared.

A few weeks back, we had another clear out at my in-laws and uncovered an astounding number of redundant suitcases. We didn’t want to just chuck them away as they were in in fine condition, so we brought them to our garage, stacked them up and put a sign on them reading, “Perfectly good suitcases; please steal them.”

There are four left.

And then there came the Great Telly Crisis of 2015. Two weeks ago, my wife came home from work, picked up the remote and tried to switch on the telly. Nothing happened. I do not need to tell you what sort of panic ensued.

Fortunately, we live very near a Curry’s (I could throw a rock and hit it. Well, I couldn’t, but someone like Cy Young might.) so, with just an hour to go before closing, we hustled over and explained our predicament to the young man in charge of appliances. Twenty minutes later we returned to our flat with a new HD TV and a digital recorder. Two and a half hours later—after wiring them up, booting up both the TV and the recorder, running through separate initialisation sequences and connecting both to our WiFi—we had it set up.

Remember when you just plugged the telly into the wall and turned it on?

We then found ourselves in possession of an extra telly and digital recorder that we could not simply throw in the bin (recycling regulations) and that might possibly be in fine condition. The crisis was precipitated, after all, by the digital recorder not responding to the ON button of the remote. I changed the batteries to no avail and after that—given our skill sets—we were out of options. Buying a new telly and recorder was like hunting ducks with a howitzer, but it got the job done.

And so, I put the recorder, with the remote, in the garage, along with a note explained what had gone wrong with it. It disappeared a few days later, saving us another Sunday morning at the the tip.

I’m not saying I like having my “secure” domain routinely and freely invaded, but by offering items I can’t use and they (whoever “they” are) can, I feel a sort of balance has been achieved.

Incidentally, my newest replacement bike is in the hallway, leaning against the wall, 68 steps, two hallways and a catwalk from street level. Its tires have never touched pavement. I may like the balance we have negotiated, but I am not giving them another bike.