Jason is home from his TDY. Thank goodness, because it was a rough 6 weeks. Maybe my shrewish bit came out, but it was hard to struggle with a potty training toddler and start the school year off with insanity while he got to chill in his off time. But like I said, he’s home, and I’m attempting to leash my inner um… wench. Hey, the first step is admittance.
We get preached at about opsec, and being careful not to blast movement dates on FB. How many of us stop to think about our own safety? I can tell you that I don’t give it much thought. We live in a village with two stoplights, where the crime rate is next to nil, and the hardware and grocery store workers know us by name.
Many of you know that I’m a cake decorator. So this means that I’m up late on odd days sometimes past midnight to crank those cute little confections out the door. It’s my way of adding to the family income, and it’s done good things for us. A couple of weeks into this TDY, I was up at 1 a.m., finishing up the dishes from the evening’s cakes, when I heard my front door open and shut.
My heart hit overdrive.
My first thought was that the kids were out of bed, but my kids know better than to open the front door upon penalty of a tongue-lashing by mama. So I called out a “Hello?” And then another. By the third “Hello,” I know the panic leaked into my voice. I grabbed the telephone, and peeked my head around the kitchen door.
That’s when I saw his reflection in our ball picture that hangs in the entryway. A stranger was in my house at 1 a.m.
Honestly, my first thought was that he was between me, my kids, and my guns. You see, in Colorado, I could shoot him within my rights, but we live in New York. Of course they’re in the safe, and I was no where near it. So I did the next best thing and dialed 911, loudly announcing that there was a strange man in my house, and gave his description. About 6 feet tall, black jacket, khaki hat, and currently backing out of my front door. As soon as he cleared the doorway, oddly shutting the door behind him, I threw the deadbolt and while 911 was on the phone, I quickly raced to each entrance to our house, throwing those deadbolts as well. Then I slammed down every window (I had been airing out the house to the night air), and locked those as well. The guy stood on my front porch for anxious seconds that felt like an eternity and then ran off.
The cop’s opinion? Some drunk guy wandered into the wrong house. God, I hope that was true.
My first reaction was terror. I went through every room, every closet, under my kids’ beds looking to make sure someone else hadn’t come in while I was focused on Mr. Khaki hat.
My second reaction was anger. Jason didn’t pick up his phone because he was asleep, which is understandable. But man, was I mad. Illogically, I felt alone, slightly violated, and the one person who swore to protect me wasn’t here, which is the status quo of late. Yeah, angry, and slightly pity-party throwing.
Here’s the big question…. Why the hecklo weren’t my doors locked? Because until this point, I had always locked them when I went to sleep. With kids in and out all day, it was just something that I overlooked until the time came to shut the house down for the night. Needless to say, those bad-boys are locked constantly now. I take it for granted that we live in a small town. I know I’m not the only one. My mother gave me the verbal wrist slap on letting people know that he’s gone. Yeah, half of this blog is me dealing with some time or another that Jason isn’t here. I need to work on that.
My cheerleading coach from high school emailed me three days after our stranger-danger to tell me that her house had been broken into while her husband was away. She wasn’t being as vigilant as she knew she could have been, and when she came home, she slipped on broken glass and broke her ribs. The guy knew her husband was away.
One of my friends up here at Drum admins a Facebook site. When she blocked someone who was tipping her radar as creepy and dangerous to women, the man blasted her address on craigslist with threats. Because she runs her own business from home, her address is of public record. I was thankful to know that her husband was home in case the guy chose to carry out his threats.
In each of these cases, all three of us could have been more careful, more cautious. But we weren’t. I’m begging you ladies to take a look around your homes, and the way you live when your husband is gone. You are important enough to safeguard!
Here are some of the idiotic things people do when their soldier is deployed:
1. Broadcast that he’s gone (I’m totally guilty of this.)
2. Broadcast how long he’ll be gone
3. Put one of those 1/2 my heart is in Afghanistan stickers on their car… seriously, are you asking for someone to follow you home and assault you?
4. Get wasted drunk at bars during deployment… really girls? Show common sense, that guy might not be “helping you to a cab.” Oh, and just because you’re geographically separated doesn’t mean you should let him “help you to your house.” Hello.
Please, I’ll try to stop being stupid if you will.
Here are some things we SHOULD be doing:
1. Keeping our deployment countdowns OFF Facebook
2. Keeping our house and car doors locked.
3. Not broadcasting at every available moment that he’s gone, yes his dog tags are morbid but if you insist on wearing them, please don’t tell everyone in the commissary why.
4. If you’re off base, check into a security system. Not all dogs count, Diesel woke up as the guy SHUT the door on his way out. Thanks a lot, you vicious bulldog, you. Our will be monitored the next time he leaves.
5. Stop being predictable by changing up your routines.
6. Pay attention to anything strange going on around your house.
7. Use general common sense, just like you’re a college freshmen all over again. Pay Attention.
8. Watch what information you’re giving out about him, yes, but also about yourself. Don’t be a target.
I can tell you there have been changes around here. It’s taken me weeks to fall asleep without thinking about it, and I still get jumpy when I hear a noise. Yes, I’ve talked myself into believing it was an accident, that he didn’t mean to stumble into our home, but I can’t help but notice how easily it could have gone the other direction.
Bad things happen all the time, even in small town NY, but let’s not be our own worst enemies and help those things along. Please, please, please ladies, safeguard yourselves just as carefully as you safeguard your soldiers. You are worth it.