It was the men with guns at the door that convinced me more than anything else that I wasn’t living in the suburbs anymore.
Thirteen years ago, I faced my first morning alone in my “new” old house by way of crouching low by the door, peering up over the windowsill, as three strange men dressed in combat fatigues, and seemingly armed for bear, piled out of a truck and tromped around my backyard like they owned the place.
My sole contribution was cowering and calling my husband who arrived home some time later to find them gone.
Generally, if you open a story with “so then there were these men with guns at my door”, you are virtually guaranteed a captive audience. They will, in fact, hang on your every word.
The difference is that city folk will say, “and then what’d you do?,” shivering in anticipatory horror at the tale of 9-1-1 and police involvement that must accompany such a sight.
Were they drug runners? FBI on the trail of drug runners? Gangsters? Lost bounty hunters?
Meanwhile, most country folk will lean forward, eyes agleam, and say with feeling, “so how big WAS the rack?” They know that strangers who appear with guns in your yard are probably tracking a deer, naturally.
A few months back I was working from home when a strange truck came up our driveway. I use the term “driveway” loosely. What I really have is a long, mud, and gravel lane. It’s more like a pothole with aspirations.
This basically assures that almost nobody “drops in” on us. We get no door-to-door religion. For the most part I think they all see it and decide to just turn around, go bother the neighbors, and maybe pray for us on the way?
We get no Avon, Girl Scout cookies, or encyclopedia salesmen either. We did have a vacuum cleaner salesman once, but, as it turns out, he was just lost.
So there I was, toiling away in my 3rd floor garret when I heard that truck come up the drive. Immediately, my senses were on full alert.
Who is that? What do they want? Are they casing the joint?
Like an encore of that long ago day, I watched three strangers unfold themselves from a truck, hoist up their guns, and glance around.
Uh oh. Deja vu. What’s a girl to do?
This is the point in the story when some women have admitted, sheepishly, that they don’t even answer the door if they are home alone. I think people should do what they are comfortable with — I’ve been there myself.
Still, I’ve found, in the ensuing years, if I stuck to that pattern of behavior, I’d be a hermit. I’m home alone far too often to cower behind the couch every time someone stops by. Not to mention that I’m curious as a cat and the not knowing what they wanted, after they left without me greeting them, would kill me quicker than an assailant ever could.
That explains why this girl marched right out and asked them what they needed. I took the dog with me, because, being a German shepherd, our dog has an edge in that many people are default afraid of a dog like that anyway. Nonetheless, I’m pretty sure that in the game of life three guns outweigh even a fairly fierce German shepherd.
Fortunately, as most country folk already know, the armed men were not drug runners, hostage takers or armed assailants of any kind. They were, in fact, hunters tracking a deer. They just needed permission to cross our land and stood before me, hats in hand, to get it.
I, not being a hunter myself, only about half understood what they were asking me, (I’m slow that way) but when armed men ask for reasonable things, I find it helpful to just nod and say “Yes, that sounds FINE!”
“Weren’t you scared?” friends ask (always city friends I might add).
I guess it’s just plain true that living in the country changes a person. What would have been a call to 9-1-1 and SWAT involvement “in town” where I grew up, is just another day during deer season out in the country.
Still, at least one loved one has admonished me — firmly — for being “too trusting.” “You’ll end up dead one day!” she says.
“Well won’t we all?” I counter.
Still to appease her, I’ll admit the merit to her caution here.
When I end up dead you’ll know it was my gullibility that killed me in the end.
People will ask: What’d she die of?
You can all answer: stupid.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt will be marginally more careful before opening her door. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org; P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; or http://kymberlys.blogspot.com.)