I think he had a gun pointed at me, but I really can’t be sure. The flashlight was shining full in my eyes, blinding me to all else. As I stopped running toward him and stood stock still, another form catapulted the fence into the backyard.
Another one of my stories from childhood? Maybe an escapade when I was a young adult? Unfortunately, neither of those is true, although I think I might have weathered either of the two better than I did when it happened two nights ago. Somehow, at fifty-something, the adrenaline rushes don’t seem to have the same affect as they used to. I remember exciting, frightening situations making me and my friends laugh a lot, maybe even scream out a rebel yell in exultation. This wasn’t remotely like that. My heart was pounding, seemingly trying to escape from my chest; my stomach was churning violently, and then my head started pounding to match the heartbeat. Not at all an enjoyable sensation, as I consider it, sitting now at my desk in the late night quietness of the music store, with the acoustic guitar music flowing from Pandora to the speakers of my computer. Come to think of it, that’s just how it all started on Saturday night! Oh no! Is it going to happen again now?
Okay, I’m fine again, so I’ll not leave you in suspense. The Lovely Lady was gone, spending the night with two lovely young ladies who seemed to need their grandmother more than I did, so there I was, sitting at the computer once more, this time with a purpose. The day had been horrible from a business standpoint. The host for our website’s shopping cart had a server crash, so they spent the entire day backing up data, with the result that we lost nearly 24 hours worth of income from our online store. I’ve talked with you about technology and it’s foibles in the past. Our dependence on this amazing media is frightening, but I’ve learned to take the rare failures in stride. So it happened that I was conversing with our web services provider, when I heard a noise at the front of the store. I listened for a moment and heard a woman and a man speaking in low tones. This is not unusual, since there are window shoppers at late hours frequently and I thought little of it.
That all changed in an instant. There was a commotion at the rear corner of the building and almost instantaneously, our family mutt, Strider, began barking ferociously from behind the store. I arose immediately from my chair and started toward the back door, only to hear someone banging loudly at the front window. I thought for a second, deciding that this might be a diversion to keep me from exploring what was happening out back. Confident that whoever was in front of the store was not likely to kick in the door, I continued out the back door, turning on the light as I exited. I rounded the corner into the back yard (you know, where the future garden is planned), only to see a man’s form behind the blinding light of a powerful flashlight. I went a few steps further into the yard, before he told me to stop. Inured to fear for the moment, I demanded to know who he was and what he was doing in my yard. As the question left my mouth, another shadowy form came over the fence into the yard, but with the light in my eyes, I could tell nothing about either man. I shouted the question again. “Who are you and what are you doing on my property?” This time, the man told me he was with the Police Department and firmly requested that we move to the front of the store. I started to object, but thinking better of it, turned and moved into the light by the back door. As I glanced back, the man lowered his arm, and I couldn’t be sure, but it appeared that the flashlight wasn’t the only object to be replaced on his belt.
By the time I reached the front door, where two other officers, one male, one female were waiting, the shock was hitting me. I could have been killed! What were these idiots thinking? Did they really imagine that I was going to calmly answer the door of my retail store at eleven PM, when there were invaders in my backyard? The questions came tumbling into my mind, but I couldn’t ask any of them. The only thing I could say to the officers was, “Am I supposed to feel safe? Because, that’s not what I’m feeling right now!” That was an understatement! I stood there, heart pounding and stomach churning and all the officer in charge could reply was, “Really? We’re just here to protect you and your property!” Yep! That made me feel better!
Turns out that a strange car was parked beside the building in the alley and someone who was familiar with me didn’t recognize it and also saw a person inside the store. They called the police, telling them they thought the store was being robbed. The police came immediately, noticing the desperate thief working at the computer, but were still convinced that their skills were needed. Instead of calling the emergency number we have on file with them at the police station, they thought a more direct method was called for in dealing with the obviously violent criminal seated there. I’m still not feeling very safe tonight.
I don’t want you to think that I don’t respect the policemen and the danger they endure on a daily basis. I do. But, Saturday night, they made some foolish decisions which could have resulted in a calamitous conclusion. The very people I depend on to protect me almost hurt me. It’s a shock to realize that the things you have counted on all your life are not infallible. The people you rely on to make good decisions sometimes make bad ones. The only disaster this time is that my confidence is shattered.
From a human perspective, I have to wonder if that’s the way it will always be. We count on people, organizations, even technology to take care of us, only to find out that they can’t, that they make poor decisions or fail at the most inopportune moments. And, when that awareness hits us, we no longer feel safe and secure. More to the point, we feel small and unprotected, even vulnerable and frightened. Maybe this is a good time to reflect about what we depend on; a time to determine that we will put our faith in only those things that really are secure, really are infallible. In all of this topsy-turvy world, I only know one Person who fits that description and I know He holds me firmly in His grip. If a bullet comes out of the darkness, if a bolt of lightning comes from the sky, it won’t be a surprise to Him, nor an accident that shouldn’t have happened.
And considering that, I feel safe again. How about you?
“If you are out of trouble, watch for danger.”
(Sophocles~Ancient Greek playwright)
Pooh: ‘Yes, Piglet?’
Piglet: ‘I’ve been thinking…’
Pooh: ‘That’s a very good habit to get into, Piglet.'”
(A.A. Milne~British author)