“You need to check your phone, alerts have been going off from your office alarm!”
I had just returned home from walking the dogs and this was not the greeting I expected from my wife, but in response to her words I walked over and picked up my iphone. I knew what she was talking about because I had recently installed the Ring surveillance camera behind my office and it was connected to a app on my phone. (There is a secluded area near the air conditioning unit that homeless people consider a place to camp, and after one too many Monday morning clean ups I had invested in the camera hoping to end the problem.) This was the first time the alert had appeared on a weekend.
I opened the phone app and clicked on the button to view the live feed of the area. No one was there. I clicked on the history tab and selected a video of the movement that had triggered the alert. I saw a recorded image of disheveled man in an orange cap walking back and forth as if he was looking for something. He then walked out of the shot. It seemed nothing had happened. I clicked on the tab of the previously recorded video from a few minutes earlier. It showed the same man conducting similar surveillance. I wondered if he was a homeless person scouting for a campsite but as he seemed to have left I took no action.
A few hours later my wife and I were out shopping when I noticed I had missed another alert from the camera. My wife peeked over my shoulder as I opened the app and called up the video. She wishes she hadn’t. Some things are best left unseen. We watched as the same man in the same cap again walked into the frame. He looked to the left and right, as if checking to make sure no one could see him. He then took his foot and dragged it through the gravel, clearing a bare spot of dirt and making a shallow pit. Then he turned around. And reached for his belt. And lowered his pants. And did the deed. 6 feet from the air conditioning unit at my office, right there in the dirt. It was disgusting.
15 minutes later the alert went off again. This time I caught an intruder live, rummaging in the shrubbery. It was a different man, in a blue tank top. I tapped the phone icon in the Ring app so I could talk to the man in real time. “This is private property,” I said, “You need to leave!”
He stared up blankly in the direction of the speaker, as if he did not understand. I repeated myself, slowly and clearly, yet got the same blank stare in return. I wasn’t sure whether he didn’t understand or just didn’t care. I decided to call the police and ask them to come and shoo the man away. The dispatcher told me they would send an officer to investigate.
In just a few minutes the alert went off again. This time the live feed showed the police officer walking in the area behind the office. I clicked on the speaker button on the app and introduced myself. I told him I did not see the man any longer. He told me there were men trimming the trees at the office and that it must have been one of them. I told him about the previous man’s actions and encouraged him to watch his step as he left.
My wife and I finished shopping 40 minutes later and, still bothered by the previous video, decided to drive by the office. We wondered if we might see the mysterious defecator walking in the neighborhood or sitting in the office parking lot. We turned on the side street where the office is located and pulled up to the curb across from the office. Parked near the office was the tree trimmer’s pick up, a large red truck piled high with branches and trimmings. On the top of the pile, tying things down was a disheveled man in an orange cap. We gasped. The pooper was one of the gardening crew!
I was livid, more than I was when I had seen the act on video. It is one thing to have a wandering vagrant lacking in luck or cognitive abilities make a mess on one’s property. It is an entirely different thing when the mess maker is someone you are paying to clean up that property! I felt violated. I got out of my car and approached the truck, holding up my phone as evidence as I looked up and addressed the orange ballcap wearing pooper-man.
“I have a surveillance camera on this property,” I said, “and I saw you take a dump behind my office.” I don’t know exactly what response I expected but I know I did not get it. The man showed no sign of embarrassment. He simply shrugged his shoulders, said “I’ll clean it up,” and returned to his branch stacking. It was as if he was saying, “No big deal, sh— happens.”
I let him know it was a big deal to me. “You will clean it up now,” I said, “Or I will call the police.” I was not certain of an exact law the man had broken but I was pretty sure that he had to have broken at least one and I knew of no other approach that might motivate him to act. He seemed annoyed at my demands but began to move anyway. He climbed down from the truck, grabbed a shovel and went behind the office, later emerging with a bucket in his hand. I had no desire to look in the bucket, instead I asked him if he had cleaned it up. He nodded and said, “Sorry,” again shrugging his shoulders.
I don’t think he was sorry. Based on his actions and responses I do not believe he thinks he did anything wrong. His “regret” was over being caught, not in what he had done. The only behavior he is likely to change after today is his degree of surveillance. The next time he feels the need to defecate on the job he will probably look for the nearest video camera, not the nearest bathroom. I say this because I believe who a person who does not know that pooping in a person’s yard is inappropriate, a person who had no shame over crapping in public, probably does not spend a lot of time thinking about right and wrong. He does what he feels like doing in the moment.
I can think of a lot of famous people who are a lot like the pooper man, people who decided long ago that right and wrong don’t matter. Men and women to whom what matters is whether or not they can get away with their disgusting behavior, not avoiding behavior that is disgusting.
My message to them is the same as my message to the pooper man. Someone is watching, even when no one is around. Nothing we do is hidden from the eyes of God and someday we will all give account for the messes we have made!
PS: The man is not alone in his bathroom habits. There is a "Mad Pooper" on the loose in Colorado .
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