I didn't really see the guy that broke into our home and took valuables both physical and mental, but I saw his type. Maybe it's more fair to say I saw the stereotype I've created of the guy in my mind.
As you might imagine, the thief has become a bit of a preoccupation of mine. There's a description of the guy and a possibility that he's from the area. So I'm on the lookout for someone matching the description everywhere I go. Would you believe I haven't seen a single person that matches the description? And I've been looking at a lot of people.
But I saw him today, even though he wasn't close to the physical description of the guy seen carrying my stuff down the street. While eating lunch in my car at a popular walking spot, a guy passed by and I immediately labeled him a drug influenced thief. He looked to be in his late 20s to early 30s, was wearing jean shorts and a hooded sweatshirt over a tshirt. It wasn't gangster or ghetto style at all. It looked like the kind of outfit that, new and clean, might have been worn by any average middle class American. And it wasn't that his clothers were terribly dirty or beaten up. Just a bit worn, just a bit wrinkled; the look of clothes that have been worn, thrown down on a bed or a chair and then worn again a day or two later.
To be honest, the guy's physical appearance was much the same. The beard had a few days growth, the hair was just beyond a daily shower. More significant to my eye was his walk and his eyes. He wasn't exactly limping or swaying, but there was a carefulness to his step. His eyes had a weariness to them. Though he didn't appear to be under the influence of anything when I watched him, it was clear that he was familiar with the experience.
The image he immediately conjured in my mind was someone that was trying to hide his current situation in life from those around him and knowing it wasn't working. I imagined he was in close proximity to the line, either about to or having just crossed it, but not entirely gone yet. He tells his family (or whoever) that he's trying to find work. They both know it's a lie, but they still play along, at least a bit. He shows up either half-gone trying to play straight or totally gone, leading to uncomfortable encounters that will never be discussed. Everybody sees the hill and knows things are accelerating, nobody holds much hope that it can be stopped.
He looked ashamed of himself while walking alone. Uncomfortable with who he was, but unable to change his course. I wondered if there was still in him the slightest tug of guilt or a pause when he's collecting the piggy bank from the little girl's room. I know for my guy the quick answer is probably no, he's too loaded and the fact that he took it means the tug is too weak anyway. The grip of the habit is too tight.
But like I said, there was a look of shame, of thought. This guy wasn't fully gone. Was my thief? Does it matter?
I know the response to all of this is that if I actually saw my guy and knew it was him, I'd probably be disappointed. I can already hear people telling me I'd see a scumbag zombie that will probably be dead long before his influence on our family is gone. Justice probably won't be done in any significant way and there's nothing I or anyone can do to affect him the way he's affected our home. I know. I understand it all. There's no understanding beyond the fact that he's one in a million jerk offs doing the same thing to support their stupid, selfish habit.
But today I saw the guy that robbed my house and I can't get his face out of my head.