Shortly after we moved into our newly built home, we installed one of those doorbells that contain a hidden camera. One of the early videos captured by this technological marvel was that of a middle-aged man in a ballcap who mounted our porch steps, bent over in front of our door, stood up, then turned and walked away. We later learned that the guy was checking under doormats for keys. If he found one, he entered the home and pilfered some of the owners’ goods.
As I recall, this was happening in broad daylight. To say the least, this guy was pretty brazen. I don’t think I would even have the chutzpah to walk up to someone’s door and check under the mat let alone use their hidden key to enter their abode. I suppose more homes are empty in the daytime than at night.
Pilfering the Packages
This is possibly a step up from being a “porch pirate.” While I’ve known about this particular practice for quite a while, I just recently heard the term applied to these bandits on an episode of “Bluebloods.” Porch pirates are those folks who trail behind the Amazon and UPS trucks and swipe newly delivered packages from under people’s noses. This, too, has occurred in our new neighborhood.
High tech has been used to combat this sort of thing as well. Besides the hidden camera doorbell, Alexa (you probably know who she is) is now being used by Amazon to notify folks that a package will be delivered that day. Once the package is delivered, Alexa then announces that the package has arrived. Not a bad system.
There is an even better system than this, however. It’s one that used to be widely used in this country but has fallen by the wayside. It falls under the general term of “neighboring.” In the old days, people used to know their neighbors, their neighbors’ kids, and their neighbors’ comings and goings. There was a tad less privacy, but no one could get away with pilfering a freshly dropped bundle from your front porch.
The Art of Neighboring
Sadly, the art of neighboring has faded from view. For many, it has become a shrinking dot in life’s rear-view mirror. For the most part, it seems that people don’t know their neighbors. Where there was once security in communities, there is now suspicion and mistrust. The neighbor has become a dark character to be avoided or shunned. For some of you, this may sound a bit overstated, but it’s not far from the truth for many folks.
There was a time when even the neighbor you disliked would look out for you. Now, suspicious activity next door evokes the need to close one’s blinds and curtains and look the other way. This new distrust is, in fact, antithetical to the Word of God.
Even the Old Testament Jewish laws were clear. Loving your neighbor as yourself did not originate with the incarnation of Jesus. Yet it seems to have gone with the wind.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]