When I was working in Cincinnati many years ago at a popular retail establishment, a regular customer (who chose to remain anonymous) started leaving me gifts. At Easter he left a stuffed animal on my car (how did he know which car was mine?) and sent me flowers in May with a note that said, “I would like to get to no you better,” frightening for many reasons, only one of which was his spelling.
My store was open until midnight, and I was often by myself on some morning shifts. I was also responsible for a safe full of money, something my five-foot self was willing to fight to protect even if it was not what was suggested in the SOP manual. Given these circumstances, one can imagine how uncomfortable my new faceless admirer made me feel. So I called the police.
“Leave a note on your car telling them to stop leaving you gifts,” the officer said when I called the police station later that day. “Unfortunately there is nothing we can do until the person stalking you does something harmful,” Not soothed by this illogical response, I called the person whom I always called when frustrated—my mother.
She listened with her usual calm.
“Give me the number of the police station and the name of the officer you spoke with.” I did. The very next morning, a detective and two police officers walked into my store.
“Are you Sarah?” The detective in the suit asked.
“I am.” I responded, staring at the three of them in disbelief thinking, for me? All of this effort for me?
“Do you know a so and so?” The female cop asked.
“Oh my gosh, I do. It’s him? He comes in here at least three times a week,” I said. He was a car mechanic who was very quiet, always polite, and had several teeth missing (all of which I am sure had an interesting story as to their departure from his mouth.)
“Well, that is who has been sending your flowers and placing gifts on your car. We have instructed him to stop immediately and he will be in later on today when he gets off work to apologize. If he gives you any more trouble please let me know,” said the detective.
And then the three of them left.
My mother always knew how to protect me. Growing up I watched her shield me from the typical family feuds with my dad, or from my sister when she was being overly bossy, or from some mean girl ‘friends’ when puberty unleashed its hormone induced fury on our innocence and turned us against one another.
I inherited this protective instinct. I know this because about two decades after she saved me from my unwitting stalker, I almost stabbed her burglar with a pair of pink, Susan G. Komen themed scissors.
In July of 2013, the alarm company called our office to let my mom know that someone was trying to break into her home. Did she want them to call the police? “Yes!” she yelled. She slammed down the phone and ran to her car (she lives two minutes away from the office). “You are not going alone!” I cried. Before running down the stairs, I ran back to my office and grabbed my shiny, pink-handled Susan G. Komen scissors, my co-workers looking at me as if I’d gone mad. I had! I felt the adrenaline pump from the pit of my stomach to my shoulders, swirling around the base of my neck and into my head. I was becoming the world’s tiniest incredible Hulk.
We sped to the house. The minute I saw the side door with the windows broken out, I ran to it and screamed through the now glassless door frame and at the possible intruder, “Motherfuckaaarrrr! If you are still in there I am going to kill you!” It just so happened that a large, balding police officer was rounding the house from the back yard at that second. I startled him and he looked at me as if I was possessed. In fact I was possessed. I wanted to hurt the person who threatened my mom’s safety and who violated the house I grew up in and I felt no fear doing so. My life was not as important to me at that moment as my mother’s was to me.
Since I couldn’t climb through the window of the door, the police officer and I went to the front of the house where my mom was and she unlocked the door. The three of us started searching the house for the intruder—under the beds, in the closet, and behind the doors. The perpetrator, had I found him, would have gotten stabbed in the eye with my Susan G. Komen’s.
The intruder was not found in the house. He, upon breaking the glass, triggered the alarm and ran off. But not before slicing himself up on all of the shards. He was eventually found and charged for attempted burglary and sent where misguided, drugged up, lost souls go. My mother would rest assured that her house would not be broken into, at least for a while, and that her guard dog of a daughter would protect her at the first sign of real danger. (Whatever that means to have your tiny, five-foot-tall daughter protect you.)
But I know it means ripping my heart out of my chest and beating a person over the head with it if someone tried to harm her.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!