For What It’s Worth

Who’s watching you?

Landing a plane and landing a thief are not normally associated events, but they were recently for David Zehntner of LaBelle, Fla.

Zehntner was flying his personal plane as he and his wife were returning home from spending Christmas in North Carolina. The main approach to the LaBelle airport goes over the Zehntner home. So, “we always make a low altitude circle over our property,” he explained. This flight home was no exception.

As he flew over their house at about 800 feet he and his wife noticed a truck in their driveway. He dropped down to 300 feet and began circling and watching a man walking around and looking in the windows of their house and checking the doors to see if they opened. At one point, the man looked up at Zehntner’s plane, a Cessna 182 Skylane. Despite seeing the plane, the man attached Zehntner’s small utility trailer to the hitch on his truck and drove off with the trailer.

Zehntner still had three hours of fuel left, so he was confident he could follow the man. He got on the radio and tried to contact the LaBelle airport but couldn’t reach anyone. His wife tried to use her cell phone but the noise inside the plane was so loud she couldn’t hear. Circling overhead, Zehntner followed the man for seven miles. “At one point, he was sitting stopped at a red light right in front of the Henry County police station,” Zehntner told “I’m in the air circling wishing I could tell them to run outside.”

When the man turned his truck onto Highway 80, Zehntner decided it was the opportunity to nab the guy. He landed the plane at the airport about three miles away and notified police of the situation. Authorities soon stopped the thief on I-75, and Zehntner was able to drive to the scene and get his trailer back. The man was arrested and charged with grand theft.

For me, reading this story was a reminder of a lesson learned and relearned many times as a youngster and which should be remembered as an adult—you never know who is watching you.

Surely, as a youngster, you took something your weren’t supposed to or committed an act of disobedience to your parents and thought you had gotten away cleanly, only to discover that someone had observed you doing it. That someone “told on you” and you were in trouble. I know it happened to me.

We also have to be aware as adults that people are watching us even though we may not be aware of it. Our children watch us. Oh, boy, do they! Our friends and neighbors watch us. Co-workers watch us. Strangers watch us.

Unless we are stealing a trailer or committing some other illegal act, what does it matter that people are watching, whether we know they are or not? It matters, probably more than most really realize. People form judgments and opinions about us by what they see us do. Our character is revealed by our actions and our reputation is enhanced or damaged.

When we know people are observing us, most of us are careful what we do; and, sadly, sometimes we say or do things just to impress others. In other words, we sometimes act not in accord with our real selves. But, when we think no one is watching us, we are prone to be who we really are.

This should be of real concern for those of us professing to be Christians. We need to remember that people are watching us and making judgments and evaluations about our Christianity and us. Are our lives lived the same when we know people are watching as they are when we think no one is observing us?


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1 Response to For What It’s Worth

  1. Judi says:

    This reminds me of a time many moons ago when I was a child of about 9 years old. My brother ,his wife & son were living with us at the time. He had a camera on his dresser beneath a big window. They had a room on the second floor with what I thought was a great view.He mentioned that someone had been using his camera & asked who it was (there were 4 kids in the house at the time. Of course there was a chorus of ‘It wasn’t me!’ from all 4 of us. A couple days later at the dinner table he announced that he had the film developed & knew exactly who had done it because they had accidentally taken a picture of themselves. I shouted out with “I did NOT!!” There is still a laugh over that one. It does show that even the slightest things don’t go undetected for very long even if you may have forgotten about it. There is always someone to remind us that we aren’t always as good as we would like others to believe we are.

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