I love my Chicago Tribune. My favorite columnists and writers include Mary Schmich, Eric Zorn, John Kass, Clarence Page, Amy Dickinson, and Michael Phillips. I enjoy the comics, the Saturday political cartoons, and the crossword puzzle (mostly on Mondays though, when I can actually finish it).
I look forward every morning to picking up my daily paper, scanning it quickly when there’s no time to read it (usually during the work week), and then anticipating reading it in the evening upon my return home.
So, when somebody swipes my Trib, I’m not pleased. I’m incredulous. Indignant. Incensed.
A few weeks ago, I was walking out of my building on my way to work, prepared to fetch the paper from the front walkway. It was shortly after 7am. Nothing there. I looked all around to see it the carrier had made an errant toss into the bushes or the groundcover. I walked several steps in both directions on the sidewalk. Nothing. Perhaps it was on its way. Regardless, I couldn’t wait, and headed to work, disappointed.
Upon my return home later that day, there was still no paper. I did not call to report it missing, figuring this was a single-time glitch in service.
The paper arrived per the usual early-morning delivery time for the next several days.
Then it happened again. I walked out the front door of the building to find nothing there. This time couldn’t have been an error in service, as no paper was to be found at the end of the day. Someone was taking my paper. A dawn opportunist, I thought, too cheap to buy his or her own copy. I called the Tribune, and requested the paper be placed inside the front door of the building rather than the walkway.
The next morning, to my delight, the paper was lying right inside the front door. I swiped it up smugly, trotting to my car with my paper pressed under my arm. Problem solved.
On my way out the next morning, there was nothing there. You’ve got to be kidding me, I thought. This individual has the gall to actually walk through the door to take someone’s newspaper? Talk about cheap. Talk about gonads.
This was war. All day long at work, I envisioned the diverse ways I would confront the Paper Thief who was robbing me of my beloved Mary Schmich and Amy Dickinson columns, my moderate crossword success, my grudging appreciation for John Kass. This person had thrown me into Tribune withdrawal .
Yes, I admit that I was convinced the thief was a dude. I readily admit to my immediate assumptions and gender stereotyping. The latent investigator in me theorized he walking to the train, snatching a free read on the way to work.
I began galumphing my way downstairs each morning right before 6am, to beat the thief to the punch, grabbing my Trib in the pre-dawn blackness. This upended my tightly choreographed morning routine, but desperate situations call for desperate measures.
Now back to my confrontation visions.
I would post a guilt-inducing sign on the front door of the building, appealing to the thief’s moral code.
Silly me! What an oxymoron.
I would transform myself into a taut and sexy ninja, crouching on the ledge above the front door, pouncing on the perpetrator the very second his hand was made contact with the door handle. I would triple-flip through the air, screeching and swooping, kicking his posterior so hard he would land across the street in front of the antique shop, cartoon birds circling above his head.
Or I would string an invisible electric shock barrier across the walkway, timed for the arrival of the Dawn Opportunist. The effects would make it the last time he ever considered taking my Trib again.
In truth, though, I came up with a different, somewhat more practical solution. I called the Tribune customer service line again, explaining my predicament, requesting that the carrier hide the paper in a special spot in the building foyer.
The next morning, the paper was lying right inside the door. Hmm. This was simply incidental success. The problem was not yet solved.
I would have to forgo modesty and pride to make this work.
The following morning, I threw a jacket on over my pajamas and walked downstairs to the foyer to await the arrival of the paper carrier. Alternately sitting in the chair and leaning against the wall, I assumed my best nonchalant stance, as if to convey that this was a typical morning routine. My nonchalant stance usually involves pacing, pursing my lips, and covering my mouth with my hand.
I had determined that the paper arrived somewhere between 5:45 and 6am, and that the Tribburglar was showing up anywhere between 6 and 7am.
It was difficult to see outside, given the brightness of the interior lights and the darkness of the early morning.
The moments ticked by. I was feeling a little exposed standing there in my pajamas. Patience, like brevity, has never been my strong suit. This was taking forever.
Then I heard the rumble of a car engine, and a white van pulled up in front of the building. A woman jumped out and came to the front door, a Chicago Tribune in her hand, in its usual clear plastic bag. I greeted her and explained my situation. She was very concerned about the theft, and readily agreed to place the paper in the special hiding spot I showed her. I thanked her and walked back upstairs, confident that this plan would work.
The next morning, just before 6am, I ran downstairs, opening the door to the foyer. There, in its newly-established hiding place, lay my Chicago Tribune, like a little paper treasure. Rays of gold light shot from the plastic bag. A chorus of angels sang. I am not kidding.
Rubbing my eyes, I skipped through the door like a little girl at her birthday party, holding my Tribune above my head with both hands, humming and twirling and prancing on my tippy toes.
Ha ha! I won! Take that, Tribburglar! You’ll never steal my paper again!
Late that evening, I taped a thank-you note with a tip in the hiding spot for the paper carrier. She did not take it. She may not have seen it in her rush to meet her delivery deadlines, or perhaps she simply chose not to take it.
My paper has arrived it its special hiding place every day since then. I am able to avoid the early morning race down the steps, picking it up on my way out the door to work each morning.
I thank my Tribune paper carrier for partnering with me to solve my the early morning thievery. Her friendly willingness to take an extra moment made all the difference. Those little kindnesses are, in truth, rather grand in the scheme of things.
The realist in me, though, knows that it’s over – for now. I shall continue to monitor the daily arrival of my Tribune.
And should the Tribburglar get any ideas again, I must reveal that there is one rather fetching Ninja costume hanging in my closet.
OK, Dear Readers – it’s your turn! What theft experiences have you had that got on your last nerve? Share!