Where do I begin? I grew up in a neighborhood that looked nice. It looked like a park. The houses were on acre lots and fairly well maintained. However, the people were sketch. In the back of my head I always worried about drugs, break-ins and someone knocking on my window at night. I trusted no one and had no reason to. A few of my neighbor’s houses had been broken into and ransacked, one house got busted for growing a copious amount of weed and… I wasn’t allowed in my backyard because the neighbor boys were doing drugs in the trees on the edge of the next lot over. (I think those same high boys would come knock on my window at night just to freak me out.)
It was weird. Nothing crazy. But this place was supposed to be better than where we lived in Florida. (We also lived in a sketchy neighborhood there. The neighbor got stabbed at his own party and came knocking on our door for help. Cops would chase people down our street daily. And I distinctly remember the neighbors domestics – I was 4 when we moved.)
So this backstory brings us to my senior year of high school.
One night, I was up late with my boyfriend at the time, let’s call him Q, watching TV. We were in the upstairs living room watching whatever is on at 3am when my dog let out one bark. (Typically, Dominic (the dog) would’ve barked more than once but he was drugged out from a surgery he had earlier that day… Pearl was no where to be found – her beauty sleep would not be disturbed.)
After the lone bark – I said, “Hmm, the meds must be kicking in.”
Then we decided to get up and look out our front window anyway. We turned off the TV and watched out front just to see if Dominic was actually barking at something important. A couple seconds later, I saw a light in the street – like someone walking while texting on their cell phone. I couldn’t see the person through our front trees but I could see the light. “Strange time to be on a walk,” I said to Q. We watched the light drift out of view as the person continued to walk down the road.
Just as we were about to turn the TV back on, we spotted someone else coming down the street. This person was walking in the same direction as the first but was about a minute behind and she wasn’t on her phone. She was looking around like she was hiding from someone. She looked panicked and scared. I remember thinking, I hope she’s ok. Right after that thought – she turned straight into our yard and began walking across the grass.
She bee lined to my dads car looking over her shoulder the entire time. I watched her try to open the car door. Locked. With that I said to Q, “If she goes to the other side or tries my brother’s truck – call the cops. I’ll watch her and yell at her if I need to.”
Seconds later, she goes to the other door, tries the handle and starts heading towards my brother’s truck. I take a good look at her and quietly crack open the front window. As soon as the window was open far enough I yelled out the first thing that came to mind, “CAN I HELP YOU?!”
She took off across the grass, running back the way she had come from – disappearing into the dark. At this point, Q was on the phone with dispatch and I ran into wake up my parents.
My parents (still half asleep) launched out of bed and cops live had begun. My mom was wearing an old ratty nighty that was basically see through and my dad was just in his white boxers. My mom grabbed a Maglight and ran out the front door screaming, “I’m going to get the bitch! Don’t ever come back here!! You better run!” She was pacing around the driveway, flashing the light everywhere.
My dad tried to calm her down, “You’re yelling. Shhhh, get back inside.”
My mother, not having any of it, demanded, “Go get your keys! We’re driving around the block. WE’RE GOING TO FIND YOU!!”
While Q and I waited for the cops to arrive, my parents drove through the neighborhood.
I gave my description to the cops, stated everything that I saw and what happened. Shortly after the cops left, my parents were back.
(We learned later, that on their journey around the block – my mom stopped the kid who was on the cell phone and talked to him. She asked him if he’d seen anyone breaking into cars and asked where he lived. She said that she didn’t recognize him and he continued to lie to her. He was the failure of a lookout.)
Long story, slightly shortened – the girl was caught. She was in Q’s grade and he recognized her. I creeped on Facebook – like any good millennial and found that she had a BUNCH of posting for cell phones for sale “with car chargers!” I kid you not.
Looking back – there are SO many better things I could’ve yelled!! Anything would’ve been better than the customer service tag line of “can I help you?” ANYTHING. Why was I still trying to be polite when someone was trying to rob me and my family!?
Pearl has now told me I should’ve yelled any one of the following:
“Who do you think you are skank?!” Nothing better than an insult to ward off a thief.
“I’m calling the cops!” Just pure honesty.
“It’s locked bitch!!” Another honest/insult combo.
“Here – let me unlock that for you quick! Idiot.” Super sarcastic and just as insulting as the rest.
So should you ever encounter someone trying to take your shit – you should yell almost anything. Just please don’t ask them if they need help. That is obvious.