Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I found myself pulling a 22 rifle out of the closet yesterday and quickly unpacking it from it's case. Wasn't a good day for the meter man.

My enlightened side laughs at my Southern side. It was pretty much an automatic response to someone protractedly beating on my front door, then going into the back yard, with determination, to poke around, get under my deck and then up on the back deck. The climb to the deck required some amount of sheer will because the steps were built by trolls in the age before treated lumber and screws. The climb is always aided with ropes and stupidity.

I didn't see any ropes, but this guy had the other required attribute. There was a gate at the top of the stairs, which he wisely decided not to cross in his one display of intelligence during our brief 10 minute interaction. He was off the deck and coming around the sun porch by the time I made it out there with the rifle in hand.

Brandishing is a good description of my angry waving it at him, along with some choice words about how he needed to get his ass out of my backyard.

Where I'm from you don't ever point a gun (aim) at anything unless you're going to shoot it. And you don't shoot at something unless you're going to kill it. So I didn't jam the rifle into my shoulder, bring my head down and swing the barrel toward him. I wasn't sure it was loaded, but again, you don't point a gun at someone even if you think it's not loaded. (Gun safety 101 is good for anyone, imnsho. There's serious wisdom in not pointing anything loaded, like a bad temper, at someone without due intention.)

Anyway he decided that brandishing a meter back at me was probably not enough protection so our brief encounter ended with him safely on the other side of his pickup truck, at the street, apparently writing me up. Funny he never delivered any documents to the door...

After a few minutes I cooled off enough to cancel the local 911 service I'd called in the heat of the moment. It had been a good move, in case I needed back up. (A 22 caliber bullet, for those who don't know, is just enough to make a guy mad unless you happen to hit his heart or brain, in which case you can kill him dead. So in self defense you can only count on a 22 slowing them down, and will give you a chance to make a better plan, while you are hoping they aren't really set on causing trouble or high on something seriously mind altering.)

More likely, he would have needed medical attention to get that small bullet out of his butt-cheek.

Then I was going to check the firearm, to see if it was indeed loaded. Some strange, meaning unfamiliar, action in the bolt made me want to test it, but I was dissuaded by cooler heads. Mom talked me out of discharging in the city limits. Oh yeah, I'm in Atlanta now!

I'm not in Kansas, Missouri or rural North Carolina any more. Not necessarily a good idea to fire off a round in the backyard.

This is the second time I've met an intruder with potentially deadly force on my property. The first was about 18 years ago in Charlotte when a realtor met me and a small but effective derringer at the door when he came in without permission while I was home alone. It was a similarly brief encounter.

There is something about someone being stupid that really can make you want to shoot them. (The trick is not being equally stupid and doing it.)

Having a gun around simply reinforces the belief that you don't have to talk things out. Hmm... sounds like a guy thing.

Now that I think about it, all of this strikes me as essentially male.

Watch this -

1. Someone does something stupid: Him, banging on the door, then exploring the backyard.

2. Someone got pissed off: Me.

3. (Fire) Power was brought into play and displayed, with some expertise.

4. Threats were made. Credibility established.

5. Retreat and cooling off followed.

6. Situation resolved in no time and life goes on, in spite of the paperwork.

I like tools that are effective. Sometimes they are so effective they become elegant.

Still, I don't particularly like the NRA (National Rifle Association) primarily because they didn't kick Dick Cheney out when he shot his "friend" (friends don't shoot friends). And I don't like them because, like Cheney, Bush, Rove and other radicals, they are zealous to the point of stupidity. But, like Unions, they have their place.

Communication Failures that Matter
Overlooking the fact that our electric company did inform the household of the updating of meters in our area, and that said communication was not duly disseminated (I had no idea they were coming and couldn't read the small print on his itty bitty truck), and that he did have a meter in his hand, assessed to be new thru the window, if we put this in economic terms, I have zero motivation right now to be helpful when they send me a moron to install the meter.

Flexible Boundaries
Consider how a child, in contrast, would be greeted at my back window. No question I'd want to know what they were doing out there, and would handle the situation, but with an entirely different attitude. Children don't constitute a threat. Boundaries don't need to be protected. In fact more children should be comfortable with roaming across their neighbors' yards. It's as American as apple pie and necessary to their healthy development, even if it ticks off a senior citizen or two.

If I had been in the great outdoors, on either public land or someone else's property, I'd view any meter man with a fairly indifferent gaze.

But IN my home, with a gun, and an obnoxious zealous intruder, the entire scene played differently.

There have been times in my life when I questioned one of the fundamental underpinnings of capitalism: ownership of property, in this case, real property.

Yesterday was not one of them.

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