My Nothing Was Something

Life is weird, sometimes.


I started my day, yesterday, with this post by A Free Man.

In case you’re too lazy to click on that link, I’ll tell that his post talked about the difficulties of getting his son to sleep in a “big boy” bed, about how he had to quell this little boy’s fears, try to get him to sleep soundly.

It made me think of my son at that age, and I admit I was a little (lot) glad those times are behind me.


I never dreamed I’d be right back there, just 12 hours later.

Trying to coax The Boy into sleep.

Trying to reassure my son.  That the bad man wasn’t coming back.

And when that logic failed, that maybe the bad man wasn’t so bad, after all.




Yesterday was hot.  Damn hot.  I wasn’t feeling very well.  So when The Boy announced that he didn’t want to stay after school to play on the playground?  I was beyond relieved.


We drove home, pulled into our driveway.


My parking spot was occupied.  A green and purple bike was parked, sideways.  My first thought was that maybe my husband’s friend and sometimes casual employee, who is a competitive cyclist, was in our yard.  It’s not uncommon for him to drop by, pick up some of the plumbing items my husband keeps stored in a corner of the backyard.  But I couldn’t see him.  And something just felt….off.


I tried to keep the mood light, told the kids to just stay in the car.  Parked behind the bike.  I got out, slowly walked toward the gate.


A man started to walk towards me.


A man I didn’t know. 


“Um, can I help you?”  A pseudo-polite question, trying in vain to mask the terror that was bubbling in my stomach.


“Nope.”  He starts to walk briskly past me, trying to get to his bike.


I look at the messenger bag he’s desperately clutching.  From beneath the flap, I can see the gleam of copper fittings.


He looks at me, looks at me looking at the bag.  He knows he’s caught.  I’m standing between him and his bike.


I should have gotten back in the car.  Locked the doors.


But instead, the terror took a sideways shift into rage.


Rage that said, “You’ve gotta be motherfucking kidding me!  My husband works his ass off to make ends barely meet around here, and you, you stupid, too-lazy to get a job fucking piece of shit are going to steal from us?  No.  Fucking.  Way.”


I stand in front of him.  “Give me my shit back.  NOW.”


He breaks eye contact, looks around.  I don’t know why, it couldn’t have been me being intimidating, maybe I looked just unhinged enough, I don’t know.  But he steps back.


Dumps the copper onto the driveway.


I can see there’s still stuff in his bag.  And I’m thinking it could be hand tools, pliers, hammers, whatever crap Owen’s left laying around.  “Empty the fucking bag!”


“That’s my stuff, I’m leaving, there’s no trouble, I’m leaving.”


He darts around me, jumps on his bike.


He’s gone.


The Boy has ignored my instructions.  He’s scared, and he’s going to protect his mom.  He’s jumped out of the van, and once the guy is gone, and he thinks we’re probably safe, The Boy bursts into tears, and starts yelling, “Mom!  This is weird!  I don’t know what to do!”  The Girl has stayed in the van, no tears, but is sporting two impossibly wide eyes.


I dial 911.  I’m giving them details, trying desperately to calm the kids down.  The neighbor comes over (she heard shouting, and assumed I was yelling at Owen.  And something about that makes me laugh till my stomach is sore, thank god, and she takes my kids into her house while I wait for the police).


A police officer who I swear is no older than 12 (yes I know that’s impossible, but god damn, he’s young) is at the house in under 5 minutes.  So are two other cruisers, which begin circling the surrounding neighborhood.


I take Officer Doogie through the yard, explain what’s happened.  He looks down at the pile of copper fittings.


“So…this guy was trying to steal…garbage?”


I explain to Skippy that copper salvage is actually worth a fair bit of money.  (I refrain from saying that if he ever watched the news, he’d know that, but of course, the news is probably on past his bedtime.)


He tells me what I already know, that they most likely won’t catch the guy. 


And really, what has the guy done?


He didn’t even get away with anything, as far as we can tell.  He never broke, or really entered, he just came into our yard.


But I’m wrong.  He did get away with something.


He took my ability to say, “Well, nearly all of our neighbors have had issues with break ins, but not us.”  I’d always wrapped myself in the idea that since we have so few possessions, no one would possibly think to rob us.  I never considered that what was nothing to me, was something to someone far more desperate.


And he took some of my son’s security away. 


I spent hours yesterday, first huddled with my kids on the couch.  Later, cuddling with them in their beds.  The Girl was easily reassured, fell asleep quickly.


The Boy initially bought the explanation that this petty, petty criminal wouldn’t be back.  But as it got darker, he didn’t stay convinced.  So my husband and I had to switch gears, explaining that if he’d been a truly bad guy, the would-be thief wouldn’t have left so easily, and certainly not empty handed.


“He’s not so much a bad guy, as a lazy guy,” was my husband’s final word on the subject.


The Boy seemed satisfied.  But he still climbed into our bed in the middle of the night, something he hasn’t done in over 3 years.


We’re OK.  Really, we are.


Shaken, not stirred.


35 responses to “My Nothing Was Something

  1. well, I’m certainly glad you (and the clan) are okay!
    Can’t imagine how scary that must have been…

  2. See, I knew you were a bad ass. What’s the point of being scared, when being angry is so much more productive?

  3. Whoa. That is truly frightening, and I probably would have peed myself had I been in the same situation. O_o
    I can’t get over how awesome it is that you defused the entire situation singlehandedly. Cheers to you for defending yourself, your family, and your property!

  4. way to go on running the sleazebag off! my car was recently broken into, not much of value was taken but it is so hard to lose that sense of security.
    i love your blog! have been lurking for awhile! 🙂

  5. Good for you.

    I am of the age anymore that I would have probably kicked him in the shin and taken his bag, or tackled him as he got on the bike.

    Worthless piece of shit.

  6. I’m sorry that you, and especially your children, had to experience that. 😦 That feeling of security is a tough thing to lose.

  7. I’m glad you had enough righteous pissed-off courage to scare the punk away and that he wasn’t the kind of douche to try to harm you, physically. I’m sure you took his measure as you acted. These “petty” crimes don’t feel so petty when you are the one being violated. We had a little meth chick break out our Honda Element side window and climb in far enough to steal my wife’s purse. On a beautiful Sunday morning in the parking lot of the health club for crissakes. She was running around town charging things on my wife’s cards while we were huffing, puffing and trying to stave off the ravages of age. We have no little children to reassure (although some young adults at the health club saw things they’d rather have not, I’m sure) but we do park differently now. I see why people get mace and take karate. Hope you are alright.

    John Whine

  8. So glad it turned out ok. I hope you all feel safe again soon.

  9. My God, MY heart started racing just reading about this, Ginny.

    So glad you and yours are OK . . .

  10. It’s good you are okay. Adrenaline is a bitch, sometimes. But bitches sometimes get things done.

  11. Oh that was so scary. I don’t think I’d be nearly as brave. But I do wish you had run over his bicycle.

  12. you have good instincts – know when to stand and get badass. wow.

    had a minor incident once, and it took months before i no longer felt violated. you’ll all be ok. The boy will be able to get it behind him… just takes time.

  13. That sounds terrifying. Glad you’re safe.

  14. I am proud of you for standing up for yourself.

    And at the same time I am thinking “Is she crazy? What if he had a knife?”

    I am glad you are all safe and got that punk out of there.

    My Dad has had to take in the aluminum slugs at his machine shop for the same reason. Buncha savages!

  15. WOW! Like Beej, I was having the flip flop thoughts of ‘Go Ginny!’ and ‘Is she freakin’ CRAZY?’ Not sure if I want to hug you or smack you!

    So glad it turned out the way it did.

    You little badass you! 😉

  16. Angry Ginny rocks.

    It might end up being a good thing the kids saw it, a prep of sorts for future thunderstorms ..

    Glad you guys are ok though!

  17. Well, I would like to tell you you should have stayed in the car but I am the same way, the protective adreniline kicks in and suddenly I forget I’m just a small girl with a big mouth. Glad it worked out ok.

    The loss of the sense of safety is the worst, the possessions incidental. Telling the kids everything is fine when you can’t be totally sure is one of the hard things about parenthood. Every once in awhile I look around our home and think how easy it would be for someone to do something. No matter how well protected your house or how stranger danger savvy your kids, we are all vulnerable. When something like this happens,it just kind of bursts that illusion we have of safety that gets us through the day. Sorry your kid got scared.

  18. Hope your little boy forgets about the scary part and just remembers how cool his mum was

  19. Jesus. Shit like that freaks me out and it’s happened to me all too frequently for my liking. I can almost taste that metallic fear and the adrenaline.

    But, seriously, way to stand up for yourself. That takes some real courage.

    Glad y’all are OK.

  20. Wow, dude. I am thoroughly impressed.

  21. I am so proud of you for standing up for yourself, and so fucking glad that he ran off. And fuck fuck fuck that Doogie cop. And they wonder why people won’t trust the police.

  22. Wow! Good on ya for standing up for you and yours! My heart was pounding just reading this, I can only imagine how you must have felt!

  23. Glad no one was hurt. I hope you feel better soon, too.

  24. we caught someone doing almost the exact same thing at our house right after we went to bed and SHE broke into our house while were were there! I couldn’t believe it and it shook us too. I can’t explain that I wasn’t so much scared as I was nervous and violated. I was pissed and couldn’t sleep for a few nights even though I knew SHE wasn’t coming back. I was just so grateful that our kids were already asleep when the incident happened and that they are still blissfully secure in the safety of their house. hang in there. I’m so sorry that this happened to you.

  25. Crap.

    I’ve had only one even similar moment. A moment where you know the smart thing to do is to back off but you’ve just had it so you lunge forward instead.

    I’m relieved exceedingly relieved that your strength and rage prevailed and that everyone is mostly okay. I want to beat that guy’s ASS for unhinging the boy even a fraction, though… Grrrrr.

  26. You must have balls the size of melons! Way to go! If your kids are still scared at least you can truly say that you will always put yourself between them and danger. Then they can think of Mommy as a super hero!

  27. Damn. Don’t mess with a Calgary chick.

    Someone burgled us years ago and I felt so violated that they went through all my personal things.

  28. You’d think it would be pretty to find such a flamboyant bike and its rider…

    About 2 or 3 years ago, my then-boyfriend and I were walking to my car in the parking lots when a much-larger man jumped out and demanded our wallets. I’ll admit, any other day I wouldv’e done what was asked. I usually never play the hero card or am confrontational. The guy I was with quickly emptied his pockets and they both looked at me.

    I was PMS’ing majorly. To this day I don’t know what came over me, but I told the theif “I’m a student at (the local university). I’m over $50,000 in debt with student loans, have $2.17 in my bank account right now, no cash in my wallet and posses only maxed-out and cancelled credit cards. I have nothing worthwhile to steal, not even my identity. So fuck off.”

    AND THEN I WALKED AWAY! I still can’t believe I did that, thought I do remember at the time bracing myself for being attacked from behind.

    The ex later caught up with me. He and the robber and just looked at each other and when it was clear that he wasn’t going to go after me, he asked “Uh, so, can I have my wallet back?”

    The “thief” threw his wallet in his face and ran off.

    Your story reminds me of that incident. If you had to do it all over again, would you still yell at the guy or go back into the car?

  29. My oh my! give you credit where credit is due. I would have run and hid in the car!

    I’m glad that no one was hurt. Much love.

  30. Okay. Next time, I want you to think to yourself (quietly) “What would Drea do?” (Evil Drea)

    Then I want to see a couple roundhouse kicks to the jaw, a couple quick jabs, some man-tears and you dusting off your hands as your kids cheer in the background.

    But other than that, you handled it very well. Kudos. And failing all of that I’m with the chick who recommended running over his bike.

  31. So happy everyone is ok! We have been going through something similar with break ins in our neighborhood. So far we have been lucky, but my neighbor was cleaned out and it was terrifying to see them go through that, to talk to the police (I had been the only neighbor in and out that day.)

    Stealing someone else’s possessions for your own benefit is just not something that I understand.

  32. Very intense.

    I’m impressed with your courage, and relieved you and your family are safe. I’ve recently become a fan of yours, and it would be terrible for my morning routine if something happened to you!

    (I tend to make everything about me, you see.)

  33. Thanks all.

    Let me just make it clear that I am not a kicker of asses, as has been suggested in these comments. I am a woman who let rage cloud my judgement. And didn’t feel the fear she should have felt until she went to bed that night, and let the scene play in her head with all the different endings that could have occurred.

    A psychologist friend argues that having the children actually see mommy chase a bad guy away was probably a very positive thing for them. She also tries to convince me that on some level, subconciously, I was able to judge the amount of “real threat” in the situation, and act accordingly.

    I don’t quite buy that. Yet.

  34. Wow. You really are brave, whether you think so or not. I think I would have surveyed the situation, let him hop back on his bike and then followed him in the car as I called 911? No, I wouldn’t have been able to think clearly. I would have watched him ride away and then called my husband and cried.

    Way to go!

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