Working in my garden this morning I watched as a little white convertible went flying past my house, slammed on the brakes and then backed up a good 150 yards down the highway and turned into my neighbor’s driveway. The following is the actual conversation that we had. Sometimes I wonder if people think before they open their mouths or if they just have so many idiotic things going on in their heads that the resulting congestion forces their mouths open to let all the stupid out into the wide world.
Driver of little white convertible, as she points to my neighbor’s house: “Do you live there?”
Me, standing in my garden, hands full of weeds: “No.”
Her: “Well are they home?”
Me: “I don’t know. Are they expecting you?”
Her: “No, they don’t know me. I wanted to go look at the barn.”
Here I should point out that due to a recent wind storm both of my neighbor’s barns, each over 150 years old, had collapsed into truly spectacular piles of rubble. Rubble that has since been cordoned off with caution tape and several rather prominent “No Trespassing” signs. Aside from the obvious hazards to life and limb (and thus liability) they want to discourage looters and scrappers from stealing all the old timbers and scrap metal from the barns as they fully intend to recycle the materials by rebuilding at least one of the structures.
Me: “Oh, well as you can see, they don’t want people poking around over there.”
Her: “Yeah, I saw the “no trespassing” signs… ”
Me: “So you decided to ignore them and trespass anyway?”
Her: (getting a bit indignant) “Well it doesn’t say where to not trespass.”
Me: “I guess they figured posting the sign at the end of the driveway would make it pretty clear… the bright yellow caution tape might also be a clue where they don’t want people to go.”
Her: “Well, maybe, but I was hoping to just go over there and take some of that wood.”
Me: “I see. But it’s not your wood. And I know for a fact they don’t want people taking it because they intend to rebuild the barns. They are tired of people stopping by wanting all the scrap, which is why they put the signs and caution tape up. So does that answer your question?”
Her: “Well it wasn’t for me to use. It’s for a friend. He is Amish and builds stuff out of old wood.”
Me: “That’s very nice for him, but like I said, they intend to rebuild the barns and won’t be selling any of the scrap.”
Her: “Oh, I didn’t want to buy any of it. I just wanted to take a couple of pieces.”
Me: “Well that would add theft to the trespassing, wouldn’t it?”
Her: “It’s not stealing! It’s just lying there. Really it’s cleaning up. The law says I can pick it up.”
Me: “It might be ‘just lying there’ as you say, but it happens to be ‘just lying there’ on private property with posted no trespassing signs as well as someone having told you that it is personal property and not for sale, or even for ‘cleaning up.’ I’m pretty sure the law wouldn’t let me wander into your lawn and help myself to anything I saw lying around that I might want to have. And if it does, I sure hope you leave that car just lying around on your driveway at night. I could use a new car.”
Her: “Well that’s not how it works. I mean the law says if a storm makes a mess I’m entitled to whatever I find as a result of the storm.”
Me: “I’m willing to wait until it rains to go get your car if that’s what it takes.”
Her: “You know what I mean. Any anyway, that wood is not yours. You can’t say that I can’t just take some of the wood for my Amish friend.”
Me: “Well, I know the owners, I know their intentions for the wood, and I know what they have told everyone else asking about the barns. Plus, now I know your license plate number and what you look like. So while I’m probably not going to physically stop you from breaking the law, I’d be willing to bet I could have the Sheriff here before you got too far down the road.”
Her: “You can’t call the police, I haven’t done anything wrong.”
Me: “I can call the police for anything I want regardless of what you do. However, you are incorrect… you have done something wrong. You have been trespassing for at least the last five minutes. Now, you have a choice to make – you can either turn around and get out of here, or you can go on up to my neighbor’s house and get out of your car and try to go get some of that wood before a sheriff gets here, or you can sit there and continue to argue with me until my neighbor shows up, but I have to warn you, he’s not as nice as I am.”
At that point she backed down to the end of the driveway, and then for some reason, before backing out onto the highway, she stopped, took out a camera, and took my picture.
I smiled and waved… but only one finger.
- No Trespassing Signs – Enforceable by law? (mysecuritysign.com)
- Thieves Show Up To Ransack Hoarder’s Long Beach Home (losangeles.cbslocal.com)
- Storm plumets Columbus OH – (My neighbors claim a tornado hit us) (12160.info)