You want to see what happens when someone throws a brick through your glass door?
I thought you might.
The brick bounced off the chair, cracking it, and landed on the carpet – in case you’re wondering about the physics of it all. I certainly was.
So what the heck happened?
This is the long answer:
C-Man and I were lazy and stayed in bed WAY too long that morning, so I didn’t get a shower before he left at about 8:30am. It was school vacation week, so Boy Detective was home for the day. My MIL wasn’t going to be over until about 10:30 and I desperately wanted clean hair. So I told Boy Detective he could stay upstairs or go down and play with Legos, and I would be done in a few minutes. It’s only about six time a year that I take a shower when he’s awake and I’m the only adult home, and this shower was going to take about 7-10 minutes. I left the bathroom door open. He chose to stay in my bed looking through his new Tiny Titans book.
About a minute and a half later, Boy Detective came into the bathroom and told me he thought he heard someone knocking downstairs. I asked him if he would be able to hear if they knocked again, and he said he could if he went back in the bedroom, so I told him to do that and let me know if they kept knocking. I got my hair wet.
Then I heard the loudest crashing noise from downstairs.
My first two thoughts:
“Someone left a cookie sheet covered with marbles on the kitchen table and it just fell off.” (I live with a four year old, these things could happen.)
“That doesn’t make any sense. Oh god no where is Boy Detective did he just pull a piece of furniture down on himself?”
So I started yelling for him and he started yelling back and he was obviously upstairs and I got into the bedroom and he was still in the bed and clearly fine. I pulled my robe on. I don’t think my brain could process that someone might be breaking into our house at 9:00 in the morning. I was still trying to figure out what had been left perched precariously and fallen off the kitchen table, or collapsed, like the easel or the art table because what the heck could it have been?
So I headed down the stairs.
Halfway down I saw broken glass on the floor and I thought “Did a light fixture explode?” Two more steps and the wall ends, so I could peek around the corner.
About 1/4 of our 4×6 plate glass back door covered the downstairs, and a large landscaping/wall brick was lying on the floor between the door and the kitchen table.
I think I have run faster before. Like last year, when Boy Detective got hit in the face with a bat and was bleeding so much that I couldn’t tell if his teeth were still there, I apparently got PAST C-Man, who was closer, and through a latched gate, and I barely remember moving. Last Wednesday, I do remember the trip back up the stairs, so does that mean I was moving slower? I don’t know how the physics works.
I shut the bedroom door, told Boy Detective to get in the closet and not make any noise until I let him out, and I found my phone. I don’t remember where it was. I think I would remember if I had to leave him in the bedroom to get it so I guess it was there somewhere. As 911 was ringing, I became acutely aware that our bedroom door lock is broken. I also realized I couldn’t hear a damn thing from downstairs because the shower was still running in the hall. And while my first thought had been “vandalism” when I saw the hole in the door because of where it was, someone could actually be breaking it out and using it to get into the house and I wouldn’t be able to tell.
At that point I should have taken Boy Detective out onto the front balcony of our house. I wouldn’t have been able to lock the door behind us, but we’d have been out of sight if anyone came looking through the upstairs rooms. I always planned to take him out there in case of fire so I don’t know why I didn’t. I just stood in front of the bedroom door and answered the dispatcher’s questions as quickly and quietly as I could. That’s when I started shaking.
Two Austin Police Department officers were on my property in about a minute and a half, and two additional cars were circling the neighborhood about two. When we were cleared to hang up and go downstairs, I let Boy Detective out of the closet and told him to stay upstairs. The APD officers got me a glass-free pair of my shoes so I could come downstairs.
As you can see above, the hole was about two feet in diameter and halfway between the floor and the ceiling, so it was pretty obvious that no one had come in that way unless they were an acrobat. The back gate, which we foolishly don’t have a lock on, was wide open.
What did the cops say?
Someone knocked on the front door, and when no one answered, they decided to break into the empty house. After the glass broke they heard me and Boy Detective yelling and took off. This happens a lot especially when “the kids” are out of school for the summer.
Usually when C-Man and I say “the kids aren’t in school” we mean all the undergrads at the University of Texas at Austin, but I don’t think that’s what the cops meant.
SWEET BABY JESUS WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS YEAR?
No idea. So far, I’m not enjoying it.
So they threw a rock through your window?
No, they threw a very large brick through a huge plate glass door. A brick which was, handily, one of many lining a flowerbed right outside the huge plate glass door.
They didn’t even bring their own BRICK?
No, they were grossly unprepared!
Also they were not very well educated about doors. The handle, where the lock should be is on THE OTHER SIDE and CLEARLY VISIBLE DUE TO THE WHOLE “GLASS DOOR” SITUATION. In our case the real lock is actually at the top and not easily visible from the outside but the handle has a non-working lock that looks real so come on, people. Have you never seen a television show? Break the door or window right next to the handle, unlock, enter. Do I need to leave instructions?
So now you have the wall fixed?
No. Right now, we have plywood covering a broken glass door from the outside, with a plastic shower curtain taped over it from the inside. I’m considering patenting this system as a hurricane preparation method in Houston, actually. Especially if the guy who put the plywood on for us is in charge because it was 8:45 at night and he was not leaving this house until that f—ing plywood was staying on there so we could sleep.
Do you want to borrow one of my guns?
Um, no. Thanks though, Dad. Also, WHEN DID YOU GET GUNS?
Did they take any of your stuff?
GAH, how much I DO NOT CARE! My four year old was hiding in a closet in case someone was on their way into the house to kill us! I would rather make an appointment to hand over the Playstation with its cables, controllers, and manuals, to ensure highest possible resale value! Or vacate the house for an agreed-upon period of time, leaving the door unlocked! Take whatever you want, we have homeowners insurance!
I shared this proposal with C-Man, and he was not a fan.
Perhaps I should have said “Wii” instead of “Playstation.”
I got you a cantaloupe!
Um, thanks. That’s not a question, though, and you’re handing me a cantaloupe while there are several pounds of broken glass between me and my refrigerator and I’m wearing a bathrobe and sandals and my husband just got home, having started running from his office when I called because he thought I was saying that someone had just thrown the brick and I had not called the cops yet. I’m really not that interested in fruit right now.
What precautions are you taking to prevent this in the future?
Answering the damn front door, that’s for sure. I don’t actually open it for strangers, they can hear me just fine through the tiny window with the decorative metal grate over it.
What I’m told by our carpenter friend, who deals with the fallout of a lot of break-ins, is that if you answer the door, the person will say something like “Do you need any landscaping help?” but they will not have a truck or a lawnmower. Which creeps me out because some guys have come to the door like that over the last couple of years. I have always thought they must be actually trying to find some work but they’re with a friend who took the truck onto the next block so they could be more efficient knocking on doors. And some of them probably were, but others…
My mom said that the cops in her Houston neighborhood have warned everyone to answer the door even just to yell “no thanks” through the door, rather than ignoring it thinking they’ll go away.
Also locking the gate, like any rational person would have done five years ago when they moved in.
Would you like a couple of large dogs? I can get you a few Weimaraners who will take care of any bad guys.
Thanks, but no. I did have a dog for over 15 years and no one ever broke into my house, and I’m just about convinced that there’s a connection. But if she hadn’t heard the knocking – and she had lost most of her hearing in the last couple of years – and the burglar had not seen her curled up on the couch, I think she would have ended up running through the glass barking when the big noise hit. It was safety glass, but that still could have been very bad for her. I may not have been a very good dog caretaker but I can figure out that much and I’m glad it did not happen even if it was for a sad reason.
How did you clean up all that glass?
Very, very slowly while watching Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life on the laptop. I also took a break to read all of Mommy Porn and Me: Fifty Shades of Grey: a chapter-by-chapter review which was recommend by my good colleague Reciprocal Waltz. I owe her big time for that one, because it was damn hilarious.
To be more specific, the glass had covered the kitchen floor, table, and chairs, and there was plenty left to spray and/bounce across all of Boy Detective’s downstairs toys in the next room including several containers of Legos, baskets of small cars and animals, and his art table.
If you look on the floor in this one, you can see how much of it is down there – this was what the kitchen table looked like too:
The furthest piece of glass we found was about 40 feet from the back door, but most of it was within 30 feet of the back door. (Open floorplans can have downsides.)
I started with Boy Detective’s playroom and went through all the toys piece by piece, putting them into grocery bags when I was sure they were clean. I tried not to discard anything I didn’t have to, though I was sorely tempted, and in the end I had to toss some of the “treasures” because there is only so much of my life I can spend picking through beads, sequins, and small shiny rocks to figure out which small shiny bits will cut someone. Likewise all the ribbon bows he’s saved from holiday and birthday gifts.
My hatred for glitter has reached epic proportions now. It looks just like glints of powdered glass. Who knew?!
I moved all the furniture, which revealed more glass. (It also revealed more instances of unauthorized crayon usage than I thought possible.) I swept the floor multiple times and then vacuumed it. I found bits of glass stuck in the walls in the kitchen, so I wiped them down with wet hand towels and threw them away. I wiped down the three kitchen chairs that were furthest from the door and declared them saved. I gave up on four others when I found that chunks of glass had buried themselves in the wood.
How is Boy Detective doing with all this?
He slept at his Grandma’s that first night. His shoes were in the glass area so I carried him into the front yard to her and they went to the shoe store to buy new sneakers. He had a tough time sleeping that night.
Several days later he told the lady working the Starbucks window that our dog died so she wasn’t there to bark so a bad guy blew up our house. Which, you know, isn’t much of an exaggeration for a four year old who takes after his mother with the hyperbole.
How are you?
I’m spending a lot of time thinking about activists, both in our country’s Civil Rights history and all around the world in the current day. I used to think of a brick through the window as one of the minor acts of violence used to intimidate. But now I can’t imagine how terrifying it would be, to know that someone did something this destructive on purpose to scare you, and they would be coming back to do something else, and that the police would not care.
Or that if you live in a “bad” neighborhood, when the police show up, how different it would be that they would at least halfway believe it was your fault instead of trying to help you.
On a more personal note, I am extremely tired. I’m trying to get Lunesta again, because I’m now having another spell of insomnia, the kind where I can complete one 3-hour sleep cycle and then I’m often done for the night. That’s probably more the kind of thing you were thinking about when you asked, huh? Lucky for me the insurance company is denying my request…