Within the past 24 hours, two unusual things have happened to me. The first thing wasn’t such a biggie, but still unusual, in my experience: I found an envelope lying in our yard.
The envelope was stamped, postmarked, and addressed to someone in this city, but not on my street. The return address was from somewhere out of state. It did not appear to be an advertisement or a business type of thing, it looked like a personal letter, several pages thick. A personal letter in this day of social media, texting, and email? That’s a rarity in itself.
The envelope was slightly damp and lightly soiled, but otherwise intact and sealed shut. So, what did I do with the letter?
A) Throw it in the trash. Hey, it’s not my problem, and it’s littering my yard.
B) Open it up and read it — there might be some juicy gossip in there, and maybe even some money!
C) Get in my car, drive to the address on the envelope, ring the bell and deliver it to the rightful recipient.
D) Write “Found in yard at wrong address” on the envelope and put it in our mailbox with the flag up.
Of course, options A and B are out of the question for a Christian grandma, I just added those for laughs. 😀
I considered doing option C, take it to the rightful recipient. But I know who this woman is and she strikes me as very private. It might frighten her if I were to show up unannounced on her doorstep. So I ended up choosing option D. I wrote “Found in yard at wrong address” on the envelope and put it in our mailbox with the flag up.
Right after putting the letter in the mailbox this morning, I let our two dogs out into the back yard. I went out with them, like I typically do, to clean up their droppings and pull some weeds. Then, with a bag full of trash and yard debris in my hand, I went out through the gate and walked down to the dumpster that sits beside the alley on the edge of our yard.
When I lifted the lid on the dumpster, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The dumpster was mostly empty, because the garbage truck had come by two days ago. There were just two small bags of trash, one of which was mine from yesterday — and on top of those bags, there was a pile of State Police uniforms.
The uniforms looked new or nearly new and completely intact, with the official State Police patches still attached to the shirts. The uniforms were not inside a bag either, they were just lying there on top of the trash for anyone to see.
“This can’t be OK,” I thought. “Anybody could open up this dumpster between now and next Monday, see these uniforms, and decide to impersonate a police officer!”
I tossed my bag of trash into the dumpster and walked back up to the house, pondering what to do. Five minutes later my phone rang. It was my stepdaughter calling, as she does every morning, so we can chat while she drives to her “mission essential” job at a special ops military base. Several years ago she was a sergeant with a Sheriff’s department, so I knew she was the person to ask about those uniforms.
“Oh no, police uniforms should never be thrown in a dumpster like that. Not even if they are hidden inside a bag and taken straight to the dump, because people go through bags of trash at the dump. Anybody could find those and impersonate an officer and do some very bad things. When I left the Sheriff’s department, I had to turn in all my uniform shirts and my patches so they could be shredded. I was only allowed to keep one patch, but not on a shirt.”
I told her I thought that was the case. I also said that I wonder if maybe somebody’s girlfriend or wife got mad and decided to throw all of her man’s uniforms in a dumpster — and, luck of the draw, she threw them in “my” dumpster.
So, what did I do about the state police uniforms?
A) Leave them where I found them. It’s not my problem and besides, I am a germophobe. I don’t even want to touch those things after they’ve been lying out there in a filthy dumpster.
B) Take them out of the dumpster, wash and iron them, and hang onto them in case I ever want to impersonate a police officer. That could be fun!
C) Take them out of the dumpster, shred the official police patches, cut up the uniforms, and then put the shredded pieces back inside the dumpster.
D) Take them out of the dumpster, put them inside a trash bag, tie up the bag and thoroughly spray the outside of the bag with Lysol because GERMS, then scrub the grabber tool I used to pull them out of the dumpster with Lysol wipes, wash my hands really, REALLY thoroughly with antibacterial soap, and after my husband gets home this afternoon, take the bag of uniforms over to the nearest state police office so they can dispose of them however they wish.
Can you guess which option I picked? 😁
By the way, there were six uniform shirts, some short sleeve, some long sleeve, all looking nearly new and all with the official police patches, plus two, new-looking uniform pants, plus six white t-shirts to wear under the uniform shirts, and there was also a reflecting vest that says POLICE across the back. Yeah, somebody got mad and threw a hissy fit, is my guess.
What about you, have you ever had anything like this happen? If so, how did you handle it?
UPDATE ADDED APRIL 18: the mystery of the trashed state trooper uniforms has been solved. I explain in the next post: About those state police uniforms…