Yes, I put up this post the other day and then promptly took it down.
Not because I doubted my reaction in my story, but because in the interest of brevity, I didn't describe all of the details involved in the situation. And when it comes to a subject of this magnitude where many assumptions can be made I thought it was only right to pull the post and devote a little more time to fleshing out the story.
This blog teases me.
Do you want to know why?
Because it is the PERFECT OPPORTUNITY TO TELL FUNNY STORIES THAT I AM TOO AFRAID TO TELL!
If you blog and have ever made the insane decision to tell a living soul in your real life about it, then you know what I'm referring to. There's no venting about your friends (not that I need to!), complaining about in-laws (whom I love!), or bitching about your husband (what would I possibly say when he's so WUNDERFUL and GUD?).
And there sure is no way that you can talk about The Drop Off Moms in detail. Because what if they found it? What if one of them, say, Googled "Lena Lotsey" on a whim because she's secretly in love with me and was hoping to happen upon nude photos vengefully posted on the internet by some old boyfriend? ...Or something like that?
Then what? In an hour she would know about our past financial problems, my chronic anxiety, my tendency to whine, that my daughter eats junk food, that I'm a second wife, my old eating disorder, my infertility, my hellish relationship with my dad, that I don't spank but I do drink, that I wore roller-skating giraffes and can't stop linking to it, my inability to change the sheets regularly and that I have an adorable cat and then she might want to steal him.
Worse, she may stumble upon a post where I wrote about how she is a whackjob and I wish she would stop stalking me. Or something like that.
So, for now I must say school is fine, yes, thank you for asking. And you?
Maybe one day I'll find a way to talk in code. ("So. We have these SQUIRRELS in our backyard. And one of these SQUIRRELS keeps calling me.") Until then, though, yeah no school stories.
In other news, our house is completely rehabbed from the flood!
Which is stellar news. Mostly because having those contractors in my house every day was really starting to creep me out.
May I present you with a bone-chilling example of their creepiness?
So, one day around mid-day I was upstairs working in my office with the door open. The door opens to the staircase which is completely open on both sides to downstairs. In other words, I may seem far away, but I can hear everything that is going on down below.
Savannah was going back and forth between playing in her bedroom right next to me or watching TV downstairs in the living room. The contractors were working in the dining room, which is in between the living room and stairs.
At one point I hear Savannah talking. I immediately freeze and listen. I realize I am hearing her talk to the contractor.
I step out onto the landing and look over the rail. There is my daughter, in the living room, sitting on the couch. AND THE CONTRACTOR IS STANDING OVER HER ASKING HER QUESTIONS.
"Savannah" I snap, "Come up here."
The contractor looks up at me, I glare at him, and he goes back into the dining room where he was working.
To reiterate: THE CONTRACTOR WALKED TEN FEET AWAY FROM HIS WORK AREA TO TALK TO MY FIVE YEAR OLD DAUGHTER ALONE.
Upstairs I find out from Savannah that he asked her if she likes donuts for breakfast.
I don't know why, but that question sent chills up my spine. (And also, incidentally, every single mother to whom I've told this story.)
Why are you asking a little girl in the middle of the day if she likes donuts for breakfast? WHY??? Why would you leave your work to go over and converse with a child when you think no one is watching?!
I sat at my desk for a few minutes rolling these questions over in my head. Being a woman, I tend to second guess myself - like hoping one-eyed men in trench coats in the middle of summer knocking on my door are perfectly normal - so, I sat alone with my anxiety for awhile. I tried to talk myself out of the bad feeling I was having in reaction to this contractor's interaction with Savannah.
I asked myself 'Was it really that odd that he walked over to her without me around?'
'Maybe he has a daughter himself. Would that still make it wrong?'
'Would I have felt the same if a nicely dressed good-looking blond white man had done the same thing?'.
And I can tell you unequivocally that my answer was yes to all of these.
So, I grabbed my purse and Savannah and we left the house. As we got into the car in the driveway, the contractor walked out to his truck. I was already sitting in the driver's seat and since it's an SUV with tinted windows, I could easily see the contractor while he could not see me.
I decided to watch him to see if he looked at Savannah as she climbed in the back.
I willed him to keep his head down.
I watched him watch her.
I started the car as he began to walk across my yard to go back inside my house. As Savannah closed her door, his eyes swept from Savannah to my watchful face. Our eyes met. And I swear, something was missing from his eyes.
Something was off.
I called Chris from the car.
I've never been more composed as I firmly stated to Chris "Get. Those. Contractors. Out. Of. My. House.".
Chris had a better idea. He decided to play cop and get their ID's the next morning when they showed up for work. That way they would know that we were watching them.
I couldn't sleep that night. I was pulled in two different directions. One side of me - the compassionate human side - felt awful if I made this man, who may just be a nice clueless guy, feel badly because the paranoid lady thinks he was trying to talk to her daughter.
But, the other side of me - the mother's intuition - just knew. He wasn't clueless.
I just knew.
The next morning Chris waited for the contractors to arrive. I told myself that this was the perfect solution: best case, no one would be offended because it was perfectly reasonable to identify the people alone in your home and worst case, if this guy was up to no good, he would now know we "had his number".
Except, guess what? He didn't have "a number".Illegal immigrant. No papers. Of course.
To say I was terrified by that development would be an understatement. The one thing that was calming my gut reaction about this guy was the knowledge that he knew we were watching his behavior and that he would be accountable for it.
Now, I was being told that there was no accountability. NONE. He was like a ghost if he wanted to be.
When Chris told me, I was in the car and I absolutely lost it. I was inconsolable.
This supposedly reputable company sends an undocumented unaccountable illegal alien into MY home ALONE with MYSELF AND MY LITTLE GIRL. And we're within a few hours from the Mexico border.
Chris kicked the crew out of our house and called the owner, demanding this employee's name. The owner refused to give it up.
We pained over what to do next.
Should we tell the boss about the inappropriate interaction that started all of this? This guy was an untraceable illegal. Did we want to upset him? What if he was fired and wanted revenge? We didn't know who he was, but he sure knew who we were. What if we already scared him by outing him? What if the damage was done?
People die to come into this country. Would they be willing to kill to stay?
What if it was nothing? Did we overreact? And if we did, then why were we both sitting in our house in the middle of the day wringing our hands? Why were our guts telling us something was very wrong with that interaction?
We just wanted to do what would make us feel safest.
We decided to tell the owner to send a brand new crew, demanding all legal citizens. We then called the homeowner and asked that he be present while they worked because I would be leaving with my daughter every day.
THAT VERY NIGHT we had an entire alarm system installed.
(Which is so sensitive that it was triggered by the cat the first night and sent Chris and I racing downstairs - Chris with an aluminum baseball bat and me in my underwear chasing after him until I got nauseas and had to lay on the stairs.)
In the end, the new crew quickly finished the job. And the owner eventually called us with the illegal man's name. Like it helps.
Honestly, I'm still having trouble sleeping. I want to believe in the goodness of people. I want to. But, when does that trust in strangers end and your trust in your gut begin?
What would you have done? Would you have confronted the man in the moment he was talking to your child?
Would you have fired the entire company even though they were almost finished? Would you have risked making a larger deal out of it, keeping in mind that this man is untraceable?
Or would you have done nothing?