Saturday, January 26, 2013

Encroaching Hazards

This is why we have concealed weapons permits.

   People in European cities might wonder why it's essential in some places in the US to be armed, and yesterday we had an experience here that reminds us of why.
              As regular readers know, we live in a very rural area on a large farm surrounded first by pasture and then by thick forest. It has electronic gates, and so the only effective way to get here illegally is to walk through the forest.  The home is relatively new and has a security system. Yet, someone at 3:01 am within the past couple of weeks was testing the doors to enter.  My son and I sat tight.  If they enter, then the law here does allow us to shoot them.  When I got up and locked an additional door lock, the person ran away.

              Our daughter is a pretty girl, and experiences the unwanted attention of some men rather regularly. Most of the time she has her muscular boyfriend with her, but this is not always the case.  She commutes from her rural home to her job most days.  She usually gets fuel in the city where it's cheaper, and where the area is better lit.   Yesterday, we had an incoming snowstorm and she decided "just once" to fill her car at a rural filling station, before proceeding to work for what would be a day of meetings, and then hopefully an early day home.   She drove up to a pump and a man approached her window asking if he could pump her gas for her.  (In Virginia, we pump our own gas)   She said no, and asked him to step away from the door so she could get out of the car.  He continued to follow her around, as she used her credit card quickly in the machine, so that he did not see any of the numbers.  He was inappropriate and overly familiar.  He told her that he had just been "let out of the slammer" and that he had been in for eight years.  He told her what he did there, which prison it was, and what his cell and group number were.  My daughter was clearly freaked, and was worried that this man might be close enough to try to take her gun.  She drove to away to work wondering why, when she hadn't been the least bit encouraging, the man still bothered her.
             When she got to work she realized that she had not collected the receipt for the fuel. She also didn't remember putting in her pin. It must have processed as a credit transaction.  From work, she checked her account, and there was no transaction that day for that amount.  She e-mailed me.  I called our friends who own that station, and explained what happened this morning.  It turned out that they had been busy inside, had enabled the pump, and then had a drive off for the amount of that fuel.  Our daughter had been so afraid, that she had driven off, believing the charge had worked, when it hadn't !  Our friends were relieved that she was not only okay, but that she would be paying for the fuel !    I needed to be in that area within the hour anyway, and so I paid them and got a receipt, and provided them with the printed e-mail from our daughter which gave a description of the man who had bothered her.   We will have to keep an eye out for this man.  Our daughter believes him to be a psychiatric patient as well as a former prisoner.

            Last evening, after a particularly challenging day all round, I got a call from my friend Pamela.  Pamela and her husband and small children live on the next really large farm. They have a home they have built there, and their family owns the rest of the very large forest and farm.  Her home is as isolated as ours. Yesterday a man was walking around her yard.  Pamela asked him what he was doing there and he said that he was the nephew of a man who is known to most of us in this area..  She told him that trespassing was a good way to get shot in these parts. She is also armed.  She spoke to him and she felt that he was inappropriate. He missed social clues and didn't understand that he was being asked to leave.  He seemed to think he had the right to be walking wherever he wanted on private property.  She called the sheriff and gave him all the information. She was calling to give us a good description.
              I called our daughter to get a description of the man who had bothered her this morning, some miles away.  The descriptions of the man in both incidents matched, although  he told each woman different stories.
Last night, his uncle, who is known to us, was contacted and we found out that the man indeed has just been released from prison for "hurting his mother". The uncle confirms that the man is "crazy", and that we should "discourage his being near women".  Our daughter also filed a police report last evening.        
             This man will likely never find a job here.  He has been released to family and may or may not take his psychiatric meds.  He will persist in being a hazard here, until he hurts someone who does not know about him, or until he threatens someone sufficiently to be shot here.  The funds don't exist to follow all the people with serious psychiatric difficulties, and most all of the psychiatric hospitals were closed in the nineteen sixties.  The sheriff's office is competent but small and they have a very large mostly rural county with which to be concerned. They also manage the traffic accidents and spills on the interstate highway.  It is unreasonable to expect them to get here in less than an hour or two, and sometimes, they cannot come at all.
             All over the US, there are places that are very similar to this one.  If you are a woman, the possibility of being stalked, raped, murdered by an acquaintance is quite real.  If you are a pretty woman, then this will almost guarantee these possibilities.  One of the reasons I live so privately, is due to a particularly intelligent, educated and gifted stalker I had some years ago.
             The wandering gentleman from yesterday, no doubt has no job and unfortunately enjoys walking over very large areas. Yesterday it was 8 degrees F. here, and so he does not mind cold.  We will need to give people in the area, a heads up.