Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Vulnerable

Today I want to share a cautionary tale. One that I am still dealing with, unrelated to my husband's incarceration... or is it? Well, it depends on whether you subscribe to the idea of gender roles and chores. There is where my latest 'adventure' began.

I was feeling overwhelmed with work, kids' busy schedules, house chores, etc. Everyday, as I got into my car, I noticed how high my grass was getting and I prayed for no rain so the growth would slow down... to no avail. One Sunday afternoon, as I washed dishes (mentally preparing for the inevitable cutting of the grass) my doorbell rang. I opened the door and a man was standing there, accompanied by a 13 (or so) year old boy. They said they were going around asking neighbors if they wanted their grass cut (I felt like my prayers had just been answered), so before I knew it, we had settled on a price and the man and his son were cutting my grass. I went back to my dishes and the next thing I knew, they were done. "Well, that was awfully fast!" is what I thought, but I didn't care, I was happy with my choppy lawn. The man said he'd come back in two weeks and I agreed, but only if my car was in the driveway, was he to come to the door. I figured next time it would be better, as the grass was so high this time! 

Six days later, my doorbell rang again... the man was at my door. I was confused. Had two weeks passed already? NO... I explained that I wasn't ready for a cut yet and to please come back when we agreed, in two weeks, and that I had no cash so he was wasting his time. A few days later, he came back again. By then I was starting to get annoyed and realized that he wanted money and he wanted it then and there. I carried on with my daily routines, then Saturday (day 13) rolled around. I had just come back from work when, sure enough, my doorbell rang. This time there was an older woman standing there. She asked, on the man's behalf, if I was ready to have my lawn mowed. I shook my head in disbelief. "Really? What part of TWO weeks does this person does not understand?" I said to the lady, "I'm not, I do not have any cash on hand... tomorrow will be two weeks as we agreed initially." As she walked away, I closed the door, feeling like I should have just told her to not come back. That I was feeling harassed, but I didn't want to be rude. I was kicking myself for not having been more assertive. 

A few hours later, I stepped out to the store with one of my teenagers, leaving the remaining children at home. The store was about to close (almost 10 pm) when my daughter called me. She was scared because someone was ringing the doorbell. I asked her to talk through the door and find out who it was (thinking it may be a neighbor in need). NOPE... it was the man, asking to speak with me. AT TEN O' FREAKING CLOCK!!! Oh, heck nah!!! I checked out and drove home (less than one minute away), all the while on the phone with my daughter. She was very scared to have had this happen, and frankly, I was very angry! The incident triggered my other daughter's memory (the one who was with me) who then shared that the man had come in the middle of the day, while I was at work; making this, the THIRD time he had come by in one day.

I arrived home and seeing how upset my daughter was, I decided to call the police and file a suspicious person report. The truth is, that this person had crossed the line and was harassing my family, making us feel unsafe. The officer said he would make sure to patrol our street during his overnight shift. He also advised me to call 911 if the man came back. 

The next morning my husband called. While I waited to accept his call, I thought about how he would react when I told him about my current dilemma; Would he be upset with me for allowing myself to get into this predicament? Would he feel guilty for not being able to protect his family? Would he get mad that I called the police? Time for speculation was over. I heard "Hey ma, what's the science?" and it was go time! After impatiently hearing my tale, my husband was very supportive. He asked me what my plan was. I told him what the officer told me to do and then I said that I didn't feel comfortable calling without having words with the man first. He agreed. We were on the same page about how to handle the situation and that made me feel good. At the end of our short phone call, he said, "you got this, ma!" And with that, he was gone. 

I thought about the police officer's words... "as soon as he comes back, call 911 and wait until we get here." But I had a different plan. Knowing the man would come back, I decided to eliminate the reason for him to return. I got dressed, collected my tools, and I mowed my lawn (and did a super job at it, too... well, compared to him anyways!). While doing so, sure enough, he stopped by. I asked him if he rang the doorbell at 10 pm, he said no, that he had been somewhere else. I said, "Your name is Dean, right?" To which he said yes. So I, not wanting to get hung up on the lie, just gave him a warning. I told him that I would not be needing his help, to not come back anymore. And with that, the man and his son drove away. Will they come back? I hope not, because the next time I will not be so kind. The next time I will have to follow the officer's advise and call for help. It is my hope that it doesn't come to that. 

Now, why is this a cautionary tale? Because I allowed myself to become a target. I either should have delegated the task of cutting the grass or done it myself sooner. By letting things get so overwhelming, I saw a hero in a creep. He knew I was vulnerable, he saw I was, and he tried to take advantage of me. 

I don't want to sound like a damsel in distress, but I am 100 percent positive that a situation like this would never take place were my husband home. It's OK to need my other half once in a while :)
As my dad always says, "if I had a husband!" (just kidding!)