Dear Porch Pirate

Ann Marie Houghtailing
4 min readFeb 15, 2021

Dear Porch Pirate,

As you can see, I’ve made this box for you. There’s food and a few other things, although probably not the electronics you were hoping for. I’ve lived in this house for over 20 years and no one has ever taken anything from me. That is until you stole two packages off my front porch.

I’m so sad that you felt you had to do this because it means you must be in a bad place. I’m in a bad place too, Pirate. Four members of my family have died in the last 18 months. My brother-in-law, whom I’ve known my whole life, died right before Christmas. My mother died in August, just on the other side of this front door.

You know what I order from Amazon. You know that my dear friend sent me Joan Didion’s book, A Year of Magical Thinking. I’ve read it before, but I would like to have the note that accompanied it. So you should know who you’re stealing from.

I think you’re male. Maybe that’s a sexist assumption. Women can do anything that men can do, but when I think about taking a package from the front door of a very busy street, I assume you must be a young man. I wonder if you’re on drugs. I hope you’re not. My brother was an addict. I saw him about a year before he died. He told me he was clean and he also told me about how he used to run around with a 9 millimeter running drugs and how he car-jacked a woman once. He was killed in a motorcycle accident in September of last year.

Pirate, every morning I place my hand on my heart and say, “good morning,” out loud to myself because I will never hear my mother say those words to me ever again. I close my eyes so I can see her face. Last weekend for the first time in my entire life I spent 24 hours in bed. I didn’t read or watch television or look at my phone. I was just still and silent. That was the day you took all of my packages. I miss my mother terribly. No one will ever see me or love me the way she did ever again.

I hope someone loves you that way. I hope someone misses you when you’re away from them and worries about your well-being. I’m worried about you, Pirate. I’m worried you’re going to do things that are more dangerous than stealing packages. I’ve been inside of a men’s prison many times. It’s not a way for a human to live. I worry that someone will catch you and beat the hell out of you. That’s what would have happened to you where I grew up. No one would have cared if you were hungry or desperate or addicted because they for sure had been in one of those states at…



Ann Marie Houghtailing

Ann marie Houghtailing is the co founder of Story Imprinting, a communications firm that teaches clients the art and science of storytelling.