Empathy for the Devil

Aaron DeBee
4 min readMay 10, 2018

He had broken in, and he intended to return. About that there was really no reasonable doubt.

He’d intruded into a locked parking garage and had stolen a garage door opener out of one of the cars left unlocked by a paying tenant who’d assumed its security.

He’d returned on the day my partner and I had moved in, and he’d stolen the remote on the day prior. An email meant to assure us of our safety and security was our first notification of the event, and we found it alarming.

“I couldn’t stop wondering where he was and what he was doing.”

We had happily remarked earlier that morning about the building’s impressive security. Our personalized and programmed electronic key fobs were required not only to get us into the building, but to work the elevator in the lobby, so that non-residents couldn’t sneak upstairs, even if they did somehow find their way into the lobby. We’d taken comfort in that.

I had made a request that the tenant occupying the neighboring spot in the underground, heated parking area beneath our building move their bicycle from our designated hanger so that I could move mine safely inside from a vulnerable outside bike rack. I’ve had one stolen already this year, and my bicycle is about the only possession in my minimalist life that I care much about.

He’d broken into that garage. He’d stood somewhere between the exit and where I’d hung my bike with so much confidence and pride. We felt violated. We felt vulnerable. We felt victimized.

It wasn’t until I saw the video still-frame image of him from the waist up that I even considered feeling empathy.

He seemed able-bodied and not entirely unkempt, but there was something else about his look that elicited a pang somewhere in the back of my mind. It was the visible backpack strap slung over his left shoulder. It was the same olive drab color so iconic to the Army, and its design had a distinct element of “Government Issue” to it. It was something in the padding, or maybe it was in the stitching.

Aaron DeBee

Freelance Writer/Blogger/Editor, veteran, Top Rated on Upwork, former Medium Top Writer in Humor, Feminism, Culture, Sports, NFL, etc.