***WARNING WARNING WARNING The post below has little to do with gaming! You have been forewarned! Read at your own risk*** Since my marriage, I have spent a considerable amount of time alone. Well, almost alone. Within months of saying "I do", I conned Zefflon into getting the beagle. She is rarely away from my feet! I adore her.
I've learned to make sure my doors are locked, the windows bolted, to leave lights on when I know I am going to be home after dark, and to not venture out without checking in with a girlfriend so someone knows where I am. It's the same precautions most people make. It's common sense stuff.
I may take the level of paranoia to new levels though. I've only had my car stolen once. I've managed to avoid a home break in. My game accounts haven't been decimated by thieves.
Whatever my "luck", I harbor a multi-tiered self alert system. I notice my neighbors habits. I can identify the sounds around me with ease. I pay attention where I park. In a large shopping center, I won't walk between suv's.
I am paranoid. Not quite on the level of Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory, but it's still a pretty strong character trait.
Zefflon puts up with my system. He can't change it, and he figures if I feel safe there is nothing wrong with it.
Friday morning I got up and made breakfast for us. After the hubs left for work, I climbed upstairs into bed to watch some program on the DVR. About 8ish am I heard the front door open. The weather stripping has been stuck on the top of the door, and it makes a distinctive sound.
I figured Zefflon had forgotten something at home, and had stopped back by after morning quarters to pick it up. I jumped up and went to the stairs.
The beagle ran in front of me down the stairs. About halfway down, she started barking loudly and all the hair on her body stood on end. I heard the front door slam shut.
Something was wrong.
I ran back up the stairs and grabbed the phone. I don't know what I was thinking. Actually, I don't think I was thinking. I called Zefflon and asked if he had just been in the house. He said no. I told him someone had been.
The beagle wouldn't calm down. Probably she was picking up on my vibe. Whatever the case, I got up the courage to go back downstairs. I checked the front door and it was re- locked. I immediately chained the door and went to check the back door and the fence. Everything was secured.
I looked out the front window, but couldn't see anything to clue me in on what the hell was going on.
By now I was scared and wondering if I should have just called the police. Zeff asked if we had any maintenance tickets pending, and I checked. We didn't. Not to mention, if maintenance comes they will normally call first. They know we have the dog. If they had come by, why did they slam the door and leave? There had been no notice we had an inspection of any sort, nor a work order left in the house.
I got a little more than just freaked out at this point. I locked the puppy and myself into the bedroom. Zeff was going to call housing and see if they had any record of someone having been out at our place.
Hours went by. I couldn't get calm. I didn't know who had a key to our house. I didn't know who had been inside my house. Someone had been inside my house without my permission.
I was keyed up and could hear every sound. Maintaining that kind of adrenaline rush for a sustained period of time isn't healthy. It is, however, a natural reaction to stress. In the heightened state I was hyper aware of my environment. It's one way our bodies have of making us safe.
After lunch I got a call from Zeff. He had confirmed housing had made a large error. Painting contractors had been ordered for Unit D. They had misunderstood and had asked for the key to B when they went to the housing office. The contractors had opened my door and been scared off by the beagle.
I had my answer. Everything was reasonably ok. My home was secrued. I was safe inside it.
A stranger had entered my home by mistake and had not announced themselves. Nor had they, once they realized they were in the wrong house, let me know who they were.
Ok, I was getting angry. Why had the housing office given our key to a contractor? Who were theses contractor's that they had access to the keys of an occupied unit without being escorted by staff? Why was there not a procedure in place to keep this kind of mistake from happening?
Neither the dog nor I really reached a state of serenity all day. By the time my husband came home, I was a little strung out. I need perspective. I had misplaced mine somewhere.
We talked alot. He'd been in contact with the director of our housing office and ensured the mistake would not happen to another family.
He also figured out why I was upset.
I'd felt helpless in my own home. The place that I considered sacred as a haven of peace and sanity against the crazy world outside the front door.
I'd stood on the stairs clothed in a t-shirt expecting a surprise kiss and hello from my husband. If it had been someone with nefarious intentions, I would have been at their mercy. I hadn't protected myself. I had not called the police. I had been exceedingly stupid. I was the dumb blonde in every horror movie we all scream at to not open the door!!!
I owe myself and my family more respect. I need to be smarter about emergency situations. While I do have a well developed sense of paranoia, when something happens that everything says is wrong, I need to not ignore my own internal alarm system.
As a result of the unexpected visitor, I've been looking into security systems. If I am unable to make the decision to call authorities, then I need to leave that in someone else's hands.
I've also been looking into a self defense class. I need to train my body to have the correct reactions. I need to make sure I have a set of skills which will make me more successful if something were to happen again.
This may have been a relatively benign false alarm, but when the universe gives you a trial run, you better pay attention.
I never want to stand in my house and cower. I may only have a t-shirt on, but I am a strong confident woman. I'll not have that stripped from me.
To my gamer readers who have read this far down, you all have people in your life who you cherish. Help them protect themselves. Enroll in a self defense class with them. Check their homes for burnt out light bulbs and faulty doors or locks. Empower them to be their own best advocate.
To my navy spouse friends, we all spend a ton of time on our own. We need to be aware of our environment. Take the time to assess your own safety plan. Do you need an alarm? What would you do if someone entered your home uninvited? Have you taken a self defense class lately? It never hurts to update those skills and give them a workout!
While we like to think our homes are our castles, every castle can be besieged. Take better care of yourselves than I did this week. It is always better to be proactive than reactive.
My dog is my hero :) She may be all of sixteen pounds, but she sounded like a german shepherd ready to take a bite out of someones rear end when she stood on the stairs between the people in my house and me. She has been spoiled with biscuits, treats and chew bones over the last few days. I can't thank her enough for being aware of danger and trusting her instincts!
Everyone needs a wake up call from time to time. I hope my experience clues everyone in to the simple things we can all do help ensure a bubble of safety around our family and friends.