Jul 17, 2013

By Margaret H. Johnson

I got a call from a friend today about his daughter who lives in Port Coquitlam. She got up at her usual time to drive her 5 year old son to school. They went out the front door as per normal and walked across the street to their truck. She rounded the front grill and headlights before being shocked by a totally unbelievable sight. The tire and wheel were missing and the frame of the vehicle was being suspended on top of a block of wood.

“What the heck?” She cried out into the early morning mist. She was stunned motionless. Who would do such a thing? How could this be happening?

I am just as disturbed by how anyone could stoop so low – and not very far away from Maple Ridge.

So, first of all, be careful with your parked vehicle on a public street. Thieves lurk in the dark and might take the most surprising thing(s) from your car or attached to your car.

Secondly, this kind of crime involves poor people – the poor vs the poor. No doubt, whoever took the time to jack up an old truck and un-wrench an old tire off and put the skeletal remains on top of a sawed off tree trunk wasn’t in the business of making big bucks. The tire might be worth $50. It wreaks of desperation.

This kind of crime really hurts the victim because of the deductible on her car insurance – which in this case was $300. – is higher than the wheel and tire are worth. This mother of two young children is off work on a disability pension and, as a result of a number of medical disputes with her employer and insurance provider, along with her coverage being discontinued, reinstated, discontinued and reinstated, her credit card balances long since maxed out – so she has no where to go to get the money to fix the truck.

The good news coming from this despicable predicament was how this mother of two happened to be friends with an auto mechanic. After calling him he said he could fix it for $100. and he would come by later that night after work.

This part of the story reminded me of the 1970s when we often looked at some kind of a barter system as an alternative to paying unaffordable fees and prices. Instead, people could solve financial problems by helping a neighbour with their car, and babysitting in return – and so on.

This might be a good time to revisit the past if this crime of desperate poor people against poor people is some kind of omen for the future – that generating a list of friends and neighbours with their unique talents and skills might be a good direction to go for those who can’t afford to pay the high fees and hourly rates for services that we otherwise need.

What the heck? This is a good way to go for all of us. Let’s establish a network of skills and services, that help us as we help others.