Pam Pardy-Ghent: Crimes & Passion

Many of us have been a victim of crime. The fact that we live on an island doesn’t protect or insulate any of us when it comes to being a target. Not too long ago, one poor outport fella had his fancy white truck stolen while he slept, all peaceful-like, blissfully unaware that leaving the keys in the ignition was a bad idea. Like he said when interviewed later; “everyone does it ’round here,” or something to that effect. 

And they probably do, or did. We used to laugh at my grandparents. Their security system was a ‘button’ across the door on their way out. If anyone came calling, they knew; door buttoned, come back later. These days, I wake up in a cold sweat some nights; did I lock the door??!! Times have changed. Just a visit to the RCMP or RNC’s website will tell the tale. 

The list is endless

Break and entries in Placentia, impaired driver near Foxtrap, copper wire theft, cabin robberies; the list is endless. And there’s more serious crimes as well, tales that will leave you shaking your head in disbelief. It keeps NTV’s Bart Fraize employed covering the courthouse. Knock on wood, we’ve been pretty lucky. Someone tried to steal our truck once, but they failed. Still, it was a pain. They still did damage and we lost coffee change and a set of sunglasses and some really awesome cassette tapes. 

For a while a few summers back someone was helping themselves to our gas tanks. That ended as suddenly as it started. We suspect a moving truck we saw in the area took the fuel bandits to another neighbourhood where they could help themselves to someone else’s gas. Can’t say we missed that. 

I had my purse stolen once. I was around 19 at the time and half full at Trappers on a payday. Flashin’ 20s at the bar as I paid for my Tom Collins. Dumb move, I left my purse on the floor as I danced my fool head off. Dancing Queen, I was that night. Serves me right, really. 

But sometimes it’s the crimes that didn’t happen, almost happened, or could have happened that haunt you the most. 

My mom picked up a hitchhiker once that left her scared for life. While nothing happened, the conversation left her very aware that, even in Newfoundland, hitchhikers are probably not the best travelling companions. I’ve written before about being stalked and circled by a group of teens one afternoon while walking from the bar district in downtown Nashville on a visit there once. 

What could happen?

I jumped in front of a car, actually getting struck, to stop what I knew was about to happen. Guess assaulting or robbing a woman who was just hit by a car and suddenly had an audience didn’t seem like a profitable way to spend a few minutes. They moved on. Once, when I was much too young to be at it anyway, I was heading downtown to meet some friends. For some reason, I was alone and had either parked or been dropped off far away from where we were meeting up. Maybe I walked from a babysitting job, I really can’t remember. Either way, it was a foggy, misty night and I was annoyed I might mess my hair and ruin my shoes. A truck stopped and a man offered me a ride. Stupidly, I jumped in without even assessing the situation. It was Newfoundland in the ’80s after all, right? What could happen? Well, when I took a look I quickly realized buddy was a sketchy character. 

I was in the truck and he was driving before I realized what a bad idea it was. He took a quick turn away from the direction he was supposed to be taking me in. Buddy said nothing, just glared at me. He moved the pile of old newspapers that was between us on the seat. 

There, for effect or with a purpose, lay a large hunting knife. I grabbed the door handle and tucked and rolled. He kept going. So much for worrying about my hair and shoes. I now had holes in my hosiery too. Believe it or not,I headed on to the bar and met my friends. I never shared that story until adulthood. Why? Perhaps I feared being seen as stupid, reckless or careless. Or worse; being grounded! 

Whatever the case, I told no one for a very long time. I think that’s a common feeling for anyone who has been ‘almost’ a victim. There’s shame in could have been. 

Why? Fear of being seen as somehow less than? You just want to forget what happened? I’m not sure. Whatever the case, like my mother never picking up another hitchhiker, I’ve never put myself into a situation where I had to size things up after the fact again. 

I learned, look before you leap and I became much more street smart, an almost crime made me passionate about keeping my wits about me. The feeling of not being in control and in danger is one you won’t soon forget. And maybe that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Pam Pardy Ghent, The Herald’s Managing Editor, can be reached by emailing [email protected]

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