I was washing dishes tonight when I heard a knock at the door. I stood stock still and hoped that James had heard it from the office upstairs. He had and quickly came down, cautiously opening the door.

I should explain my hesitation by saying I’ve developed the nasty but uncontrollable habit of reading the police blotters/crime briefs in our free local paper about once a week. I’ve read two stories already of teenagers knocking on some elderly person’s door before violently shoving their way in to rob them. Something about that juxtaposition of civility and cruelty is just eerie.

Anyway, it wasn’t punk kids coming to rob and/or harass us, it was one of our adult neighbors from down the block. Sorry for you detail-lovers out there, but no, we don’t know his name. Not yet. So far we’ve narrowed it down to something that starts either with a C or a K. Curtis? Karl? Anyway. He asked if we liked to buy movies.

The first time we ever saw him he was on the far end of our block where he lives, with his little stand all set up. The stand had stacks and rows of thin DVD cases and CD cases, and he typically had a boom box out there too, playing some tunes. Yes, my friends. It’s been all too obvious from the start. CK is a Pirate.

I watched James from the kitchen and went back to the dishes, leaving him to puzzle out this particular moral dilemma on his own (was that mean?). I know it may offend some of your more delicate moral tendencies to say it, but we are now the semi-proud, mostly-amused owners of THE FIRST EVER PRE-RELEASED DVD COPY of Public Enemies. $5 of our precious money spent on a pirated DVD.

(chirp, chirp)

It’s in a tiny DVD case, with the cover printed out and cut crookedly to fit into the plastic sleeve, and the DVD itself has a white sticker cover, totally blank. It’s a crude job at best, topped off by the fact that the film hasn’t actually been released on DVD yet.

I instantly thought of those super cheesy, wicked lame anti-piracy previews that say things like “You wouldn’t steal a wallet, you wouldn’t steal a car…BUT WOULD YOU STEAL A MOVIE?!?!?” Once I recovered from the not-so-subtle guilt trip (not to mention the horrible ’80s-style graphics), I would stare at my $10 ticket stub, look up at the over-paid actor on screen, and wonder who’s robbing who? But back to the point…

James and I feel no guilt or remorse over purchasing a pirated DVD from our low-income neighbor. Do I blame him for seeking enterprise that will generate a little extra income? Not really. Compared to other avenues he could have utilized, I am actually quite happy with his choice. Instead of barging into our home and snatching my purse, he offered us a DVD of his crafting (post-production, of course), something he does for anyone who walks down the block. In fact, Val’s bookshelf is stocked with hundreds of thin DVD cases like these. We’ve only had 2 real interactions/conversations with him in the past, and him approaching us at all was a sign of friendship and acceptance as both people and neighbors. And I think that was worth the 5 bucks.

(I would like to just note here that my “approval” of his generating extra income via pirated music & movies doesn’t stem from a mindset that expects little more from my poor, black neighbors. It is simply a recognition of the limits the environment places on people in his situation, and a willingness to assist him in his endeavors to better that situation, if only a little. In this case we were doubly willing to do so, as the gesture doubled as a gesture of friendship).

Of course at the end of the day it’s always possible that we’ve merely been duped, though we truly do not interpret this situation in that way.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome, feel free to leave a comment!