When it comes to crime in Jefferson, no harm no fowl
A few weeks ago, we had to have Sloan Plumbing come by and fix a leak.
Plumbers, like their friends the electrician and the cable guy, can never quite commit to an arrival time.
At my last job, I tried taking a page from them when I once informed my boss, “I’ll be at work sometime between 8 and 5.”
When we pressed the plumbers for a more precise ETA, we were instructed that most people leave their doors unlocked for them and just go about their day.
My wife and I had just spent the past 14 years in a mid-sized Ohio city where only six degrees separated many residents from someone who’d either been murdered or was presently serving time.
Had we left our door unlocked there for a majority of the day, we might have come back to find a homeless squatter passed out on our love seat.
Or our copper plumbing torn out.
Or our TV and DVD player en route to the closest pawnshop.
Or, more likely, all of the above.
I grew up in Jefferson, but this was crazy talk coming from Sloan.
Or so I thought.
Then on the morning of Dec. 13, I opened up my daily email from Jefferson Police Chief Dave Morlan containing the previous day’s activity log.
This was literally the first item atop the Dec. 12 report from Chief Morlan:
“1115 hrs: An officer was called to Sparky’s One Stop for mallard duck in the parking lot. The duck flew off when the officer approached it.”
I laughed out loud.
More to the point, though, I was just so overjoyed that we here in Jefferson really only have suspicious waterfowl to worry about.
I’m still not leaving my door unlocked, but if I did?
Opposable thumbs have webbed feet beat any day.
Of course, in Ohio, that mallard would be high on bath salts and would proceed to just crash right through our picture window.
Wow, did I mention it’s good to be home?
When we moved out to Ohio back in 1999, for my job at a newspaper, we quickly learned there are actually two different Midwests.
One looks like “Field of Dreams.”
That’s this one.
The other looks like “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.”
The Rust Belt is downright post-apocalyptic, and it pretty much has the crime to match.
Not long after our arrival — young, wide-eyed Iowans, my wife and I — a drug dealer hurled a Molotov cocktail into his rival’s house, tragically killing a kid inside.
Then a homeless man was set on fire by some local teenagers.
Then a guy stabbed his own mother because she smoked his last cigarette.
The 11 o’clock news was filled with tales of home invasions and “pistol whippings” — an act I sort of always equated with cattle rustling in the Wild West.
My mom and dad drove out one Easter from Jefferson and observed two people outside their cars on Interstate 70 near Dayton pointing handguns at each other.
It didn’t even make that night’s news.
Sirens howled all day and all night.
Cars routinely ran into houses.
Houses were routinely stripped of their aluminum siding — except ours, of course, even though we prayed many a night for the siding on our fixer-upper to be stolen because we didn’t have any money to paint it.
So to read that Jefferson’s finest are responding to reports of mallard ducks in parking lots?
What a relief.
It’s been similarly refreshing to read that at 1148 hours on Dec. 21, Betty Nearhoof reported a fox in her yard in the 100 block of East Wilcox Way.
Local police, these past couple of weeks, have also been called to remove bats and squirrels from homes, which leads me to believe that Jefferson doesn’t actually need a police force — it needs an enterprising exterminator to open up shop here.
Still, though, my mind keeps migrating back to that mallard duck in the parking lot of Sparky’s One Stop on Dec. 12.
This week, I finally broke down and called Sparky’s to find out what, exactly, it was about that mallard that led them to call police.
“He was sitting in front of our semis and the drivers were having to shoo him out of the way,” manager Jeanine Eggert informed me.
He simply wouldn’t leave the premises.
“He was kind of a cute nuisance,” Eggert confessed.