OK, I think this is the beginning of what they call “culture shock.” I knew the statistics on crime in Boston and in particular our town, Wellesley and those of Dublin before we moved. One of the reasons we actually chose this part of the world is because it’s so safe but to know it and to actually live it are two totally different things.
When we discovered, for example that we had no house alarm I instantly began to factor in the chore of having one installed. There was no way I was going to live in a house with no alarm – not in crime ridden America, where they had guns. I knew my husband would be away a lot too because of business, yet another reason to have one. Then we had the incident of the estate agent leaving the keys in the house and the house wide open when we arrived late on our first day here. The truth is there is just no crime here. I think it is the fact that there is a zero tolerance for it. The cops are perfectly lovely and will help you get your car out of a tight parking spot but if they meet a baddy, they turn into the cops you see on TV. I once saw them pin a guy down on the bonnet of his car. (It was just like on the telly – very exciting!) He had been speeding and gave them chase so they cuffed him and I assume brought him ‘down town.’ Do you remember The Incredible Hulk? They’re a bit like that. The police force is perfectly lovely but if a situation gets dodgy, they turn nasty in an instant.
Kids here get a half day on Wednesday (but before you get jealous - they start much much earlier too) so one day I was in the central shopping square when a swarm of kids arrived, looking for sandwiches and doubtless a bit of craic (fun). It was sunny and they were just hanging around but there were quite a lot of them, maybe fifty. By the time I had come out of the supermarket, a few minutes later, two cop cars had arrived, lights flashing (like on CSI Miami) and one of the men had a loud speaker (bull horn) telling the kids to “Dissipate or you will be arrested. Leave the locality now or you will be arrested.” There was absolutely no messing with them. There wasn’t a kid on the scene within five minutes. Even I scarpered.
The biggest shock for me however was the day my eldest daughter and I went into a restaurant bathroom (restroom) together. An elderly lady had been checking her reflection in the mirror and then turned to go into a toilet cubicle. In doing so she left her handbag (purse) beside the sink, outside the cubicle. Reacting quickly, my daughter stoped her politely and reminded her that she had forgotten her purse.
“Oh, that’s OK, honey. I’ll get it when I come out,” she smiled indulgently at my little girl. “Not enough room in here,” she whispered as if that explained it. Then the older woman happily went into the toilet cubicle and locked the door, leaving her large handbag unguarded beside the sink in the ladies!
My daughter and I looked at each other incredulously. Even I felt tempted to steal it. How could anywhere on the planet still be so innocent, honest and upright?
A year on, I’ve decided not to bother with the house alarm J