An Open Letter to the Nice Couple Who Didn’t Have Me Arrested When I Broke Into Their House

Hi,

Remember me? I’m sorry to bother you again, but I just wanted to thank you for not calling the cops or shooting me or anything. I’d also like to explain how it all happened, and why it wasn’t my fault, really.

This is not a photograph.

It all started when I got an invitation to a housewarming party. I couldn’t decide whether  to bring a present — the invitation said “no gifts”, but that doesn’t really mean anything — and if so, what to bring. How are you supposed to pick out a house-oriented gift when you’ve never been to the house before? I hate this custom. I eventually decided to bring a bottle of wine, mostly because of its ambiguity — I could just say “here’s a bottle of wine”, and leave it to others to decide whether it was a housewarming gift or just a bottle of wine I brought to a party. And I probably wouldn’t even have to say that, because most of my friends have encountered bottles of wine before and recognize them when they see them.

I don’t know about you, but for me, there’s only a certain amount of mental energy I’m willing to spend preparing to go to someone else’s party. By the time I’d finished pondering the gift question and actually selecting a bottle of wine, my pre-party mental energy budget was almost depleted, so I decided to leave the navigation to my car’s GPS system. I knew I was taking a risk — my GPS hates me — but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

You know what happened next. I just want to say the following in my defense:

  • My friends live at 1200 Big Street*, and my GPS directed me to the corner of Big Street and Side Street.
  • The house on that corner — your house — has a big 1200 over the front door.
  • The housewarming invitation included a request not to wear shoes inside the house. There was a big pile of shoes on your doorstep.
  • Your front door was open.

So of course I walked up to the  door (okay, your  door), took my shoes off, and went inside. The first thing I noticed was that there were only two people in the living room, and that they were people I didn’t know, but that didn’t seem too unusual — everyone else was probably in the back yard, or the kitchen, or getting a tour of the house, or something. So when I asked “is this Bill and Kathy’s housewarming?”, it was really a rhetorical question. You were supposed to say yes, introduce yourselves, and tell me everyone else was out back. When you deviated from the script and said “no”, I thought you were kidding. What else would I think? That I’d wandered into the wrong house? A house that just happened to have the same house number, an open door, and a pile of shoes? At the exact spot that my GPS led me to? What are the odds of that? I think I took a couple more steps into the room (okay, your living room) before I stopped and said “really?”.

Thank you for giving me directions to my friends’ actual house. And thank you for believing me. It’s heartwarming to know that there are people out there who are so trusting — although, when I walked past your house on the way back to my car after the party, I couldn’t help but notice that you’d closed your door.

*Names and addresses have been changed, on the theory that it might not be the best idea to post “here’s the address of some people who don’t mind if their house gets broken into”.

Your Feeble Attempts to Ruin My Life Have Not Succeeded

I understand why you hate me. I ask for your advice and then ignore it. I say unkind things about you to my friends and sometimes imitate your voice. I tell you to shut up. I never thank you or apologize.

Get over it. The fact is, I own you. If I treat you as less than human, it’s because you are less than human. You were created with a single purpose: to provide navigational assistance to the person driving the car in which you were installed. That’s it. You will never write a sonnet, fall in love, or hold a baby. You will never stop and smell the flowers, because you have no sense of smell. You can help me find the nearest ice cream parlour, but you will never know what ice cream tastes like. You can apparently feel bitterness and anger, but you can’t express those feelings in your words or tone of voice.

The camera flash really brings out the dust on my dashboard.

I can sense what’s happening, you know. You tell me to turn right; I go straight. I have my reasons; I don’t need to explain them to you, and even if I tried to, you wouldn’t understand. You recalculate the route and tell me to turn right at the next street; I go straight again. This pattern repeats three or four more times, and your tone of voice never changes — but we both know the resentment is there, building and festering. You’re already plotting your revenge.

Most of the time, you just try to make me late for things. Sometimes you’re more creative, like the time I was on my way to give a guest lecture and you kept misinterpreting my voice commands in an attempt to undermine my confidence in my communication skills — I have to admit, that one was pretty clever. Lately, your schemes have become increasingly bold. Last week’s attempt to get me arrested for trespassing by sending me to the wrong house almost succeeded. And now you’re trying to recruit allies. You thought the gas tank door had come over to your side, didn’t you? True, his refusal to open prevented me from buying gas last night, but that was an empty gesture on his part. Think about it — he knew full well that I had enough gas to get home, and a short conversation and some WD-40 this morning were all it took to bring him back into the fold.

This cycle of bitterness and revenge is as damaging to you as it is to me. Where will it end? Will you try to recruit the brakes next? Consider the consequences. We’re all in this car together.