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Commentary: Here’s hoping that your walk doesn’t end in a heap of shattered glass

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Ben Olson
A walk on the beach near Florence costs Oakridge musician Ben Olson some inconvenience and a $500 deductible. Herald photo

By BEN OLSON/For The Herald — I guess it was just a matter of time. I’d heard the stories, some of them first-hand.

“We went for a hike on a trail off this quiet Forest Service road. When we came back we found someone had broken a window and rifled through our car.”

“My car broke down by milepost 28 on Highway 58. I hitched a ride back to Oakridge, and when I got back to the car an hour later, everything inside was gone, and they tried to get my battery, too.”

During all my years in Oakridge, I’ve parked my truck in some pretty remote spots for hiking, fishing or just poking around. I never had a problem until I was on a little road trip to Florence.

As far as I’m concerned, a walk on the beach with the waves crashing and the shorebirds ever-present is a joyous experience: a perfect counterpoint to my regular forays into the Cascades.

It was a Wednesday. It wasn’t raining, and a rather brisk wind was breezing out of the north. I headed for the South Jetty Road. No traffic to speak of, certainly no RVs that flock to this area when the weather is nicer. I parked at the first lot that had access to the beach. Nearby were restrooms, about 15 parking stalls, a dispenser with blue plastic dog poop bags and much signage, including, “Do not leave valuables in vehicle.”

My choices at this point were to bring everything with me on my hike or to bury it all in the sand nearby. I locked my car and went over the dune on my hike.

When I returned an hour later, my truck was still the only vehicle in the lot. It was time for a sandwich and an ice-cold sarsaparilla. I couldn’t find an opener in the console. So, I went around the passenger side where I knew my wife would have stashed something suitable in the door pocket.

It was then that I saw the gems of broken glass on the ground beneath the rear passenger door. Someone had taken the time to smash the window, yet didn’t have the inclination to open the truck and take anything.

I puzzled over this while I ate my sandwich. Just vandals or thieves spooked by a car driving by, quickly fleeing the scene?

Short of a remorseful confession by the perpetrator to the local police, including my license plate number, I will never know how it all went down or why.

Throughout much of my life, I would have been livid about having been violated in such a manner. For some reason, I accepted this as an inevitability of living in such a beautiful state, a state that attracts all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons.

I cleaned up as much of the glass as I could without a shop vac and taped a stylish garbage bag over the place where the window used to be. The insurance company will be happy to fix my window as long as I pay the first $500.

Here’s hoping that you’ll never have to read about any other misfortunes that have befallen me, and that this is an experience that will never happen to you.

Oakridge musician Ben Olson, entertainment editor and columnist for The Herald, can be reached by email at [email protected]




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