The Ruffler


Self portrait, eyes closed

We have a “Ruffler.”

This is what Ben called him the first time it happened, the first time our car was broken into last year. We went to open the door of our car one morning and discovered that it was ajar. Trash was strewn all over the passenger seat along with owners’ manuals, registration papers, a swiss army knife, a few tampons and a number 2 pencil. All that seemed to be missing was the spare change. I explained to Ben that someone had rifled through our car in the middle of the night.

But who ruffled our car? Ben asked in disbelief.

I like calling him the Ruffler because it sounds more friendly, less like a violation and more like a person who simply makes mischief and mess wherever they go. We also have a name for this guy because he has done this to our car a good 7 times now. Every time we have forgotten to lock the doors- those occasions when I have extracted a screaming toddler from the car seat and hurriedly ushered him into the house (thus forgetting to lock up) the Ruffler strikes again.

It’s possible he is the most dependable force in my life. A law of the Universe. Pure cause and effect.

I’ve been more diligent about locking doors since the Ruffler came into our lives. Not just the car doors, but the house as well. He demands that I cross my T’s more than usual; he demands a kind of precision and excellence that perhaps I let fall by the wayside. I imagine he is a kind of angel, here for a purpose, to protect me from a much greater harm with his annoying shenanigans.

I have been tempted to leave the car door open and rig a camera in there, to film the Ruffler in action. He has left cigarette butts in the car before, garbage, and once a nice pair of sunglasses that I’m guessing he acquired from another vehicle. But I don’t really want to know who he is.

I prefer to think of him as a force or an energy, not a real person.

I prefer to think of him as someone who asks me to stay present and awake, who remembers to check the doors before falling asleep, who reminds me of the simple laws of the Universe.




  1. Posted May 8, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Ugh, the ruffler visits us frequently, too. I try to be grateful that the window has not been bashed. I can always tell when he has visited because he leaves the coin tray and the glove box open.

    Once, a thief visited our house while we were on vacation, left all the drawers open, and stole some valuables. I guess we used the term “robber” to refer to the incident. Scarlett was about 3.5. It just became clear to us this year that she thought it was a bird who had entered our house and strewn our belongings around. Robin being similar to “robber”. I so wish it was a bird.

  2. Posted May 8, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    I know this is going to sound ridiculous…..but is there any chance it could be a racoon? I once had a similar situation several nights in a row (lived on an island where cars were never locked) it looked like someone had a party in my car, and a few nights later I caught a racoon in the act!. They are so mischievous. Anyway, sorry for your stress and the yuk feeling :(

  3. Miss Britt
    Posted May 8, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    I’m in awe of how you approach this with gratitude.

  4. Michelle L
    Posted May 8, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    You are far braver than I. It would become my mission to find ways to send said Ruffler on his/her/it’s marry way…for good. Me, I’m a lock-checker by nature, which is nothing to be especially proud of, because what lies behind that habit is fear and the need to be in control. Thanks for sharing your story. The graciousness in which to you think of your Ruffler inspires me to remember that there is a time and place for everything in our lives, often for reasons we may never understand.

  5. Posted May 8, 2013 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    The ruffler – I love that – kids are so awesome with their magic little insights and ways of seeing things. What a wonderful perspective you have gleaned from a not so wonderful situation.

  6. Posted May 8, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    That is an amazing attitude/point of view to have. We have had this happen three times, and to me it just feels like a horrible violation. We actually just got an alarm system installed in our house today, which I went back and forth about- feeling like it is overboard and like I should be more trusting in the world.

  7. Posted May 8, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Where I used to live we never locked our car doors or our apartment and no one ever “ruffled” when we moved, at first, we forgot to lock our car a lot and had some thing stolen. Whenever we forget to lock it someone ruffles through. Even though it does remind me to be more careful I liked living somewhere that didn’t require locked doors for a sense of peace.

  8. Nancy Guillery
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    I agree with Miss Britt and Misty! I admire your decision to view this Ruffler as a force to protect you from bigger harm. We can all profit by taking a step back when these types of things happen and choose how we decide to view them. Not always easy.

  9. Posted May 9, 2013 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    I love that you view this as a call to stay present. I was thinking the same thing. Cheers to all the mischief makers ;) xx

  10. Leah
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 2:34 am | Permalink

    RookieMom Whitney’s comment reminded me of the only time I have ever lived alone, during graduate school, when on THREE separate occasions a bird somehow got into the apartment and flapped around freaking out my very squeamish self. The middle time I was away and the bird went all over the apartment, literally pooping on the shoulders of my clothes in the closet on the harder-to-see side … I’m sure it all meant something but I don’t know what.

  11. Kathleen
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    Bless you dearone… you are such a brilliant shining star ~

  12. Olive
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Hi Andrea, sorry to say this but romantizing this guy (if it is a guy) as a ruffler to make him sound more ‘friendly’ is very dangerous indeed in my opinion. I had a ‘ruffler’ once years ago and it didn’t end on a great note for me.

    For him/her to have struck 7 times!!! is something I would take very seriously indeed. He is certainly not a force or an energy.


  13. Posted May 9, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like a lost soul. Sad really, to be rummaging for change.

  14. Posted May 15, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    You are a thing of rare beauty, Andrea.

  15. Natalie
    Posted May 16, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Wow, what a way to look at things. This is so awesome and uplifting and refreshing. Thank you Andrea, for sharing your trust with the universe with all of us. I’m teary eyed. YOU are an angel.

  16. Elizabeth Medina
    Posted May 19, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    So beautiful Andrea! I just loved seeing beautiful Miriam looking so happy!

  17. Gemma
    Posted May 21, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    I wonder what would happen if you very occasionally left him a meal on the hood of the car, with a note (and maybe some kiddie artwork sans identifying info) to “The Ruffler”? Not enough to be dependable, but enough to shift the conversation, so to speak. It’s possible he only thinks of the people from whom he steals in the abstract, sort of resources he’s free to exploit as needed. Finding himself seen and the recipient of kindness? It might do nothing. It might create a small shift. It might change everything. Think it would be worth the experiment?

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