Home Invasion

You probably think I live in a war zone.  Between the murder of my friend’s father last October and what I’m about to tell you, you might think, “Wow, she is really tough.”  Alternately, you might think, “Wow, she is really stupid.”  You get to pick.  Editor’s note:  she is both.

Two Thursdays back, I sat at my computer reading up on the latest neighborhood shenanigans on the Next Door app.  This headline stopped me in my tracks:

It’s about ten blocks from where we live, so yeah,  “Armed Robbery In My House” grabs you by the front of your shirt with both hands and slams you into the wall.  It’s the kind of header meant to grab your attention, and it did just that.  I read the victim’s story, and felt for myself, my neighborhood, not scared but sad.  He further described in vivid detail the attack, his injuries, and resolution; at that time, any resolution was in its infancy.  I got to thinking, “Wow, that was really close to Matt’s house,” before I connected the dots:  It WAS Matt’s house.  It was Matt.  We are not brother-and-sister close, but he’s the kind of guy everyone knows and likes.  His record album collection makes me googly-eyed, and he knows a little bit of something about everything. He’s one of the good guys.

I sent him a Facebook message telling him how sorry I was, and asked if I could bring him something (soft) to eat or maybe help clean up his house.  I’ll never win awards for housekeeping, but when your friend’s house is covered with his own blood, you figure you could probably step up to the plate for him.  He responded by asking me to bring him lunch, and I was happy to be able to do something.

Wendy’s Meals on Wheels pulled up, and I was expecting an eggplant-colored face to greet me.  He looked better than I was expecting to be perfectly honest, but you are never prepared to see a stitched-up perfect circle embedded into your friend’s cheekbone.  That circle?  Just happened to be the size of the shotgun barrel used to shove him to the ground.  It’s not my story to tell, so I won’t go into greater depth, but a few weeks later it’s still very much weighing on me.  It is not my story to tell, but it is my concern.  It’s my sadness at this violent, brazen attack on my friend in our neighborhood.  What the hell, world?  When did things get so far off-track?  Why?

Responses to his posting ranged from expressions of friendship, admiration of his bravery, concern, and sympathy to “you need to get a big dog” to “I teach a concealed carry class, won’t you join us?”  A person shouldn’t need to have a big dog to protect himself!  A person shouldn’t have to feel she or he needs a concealed handgun to hang out in her living room!  None of us should have to fear the nighttime, hell, we shouldn’t have to fear the daytime for that matter.

Writing the previous sentence, I understand that I sound a little white middle class-ish, blind-eye-ish.  I skim the daily paper’s headlines, but don’t watch the news anymore (because I like to be mostly sane), so I’m not unaware of the plight of citizens residing in warn-ravaged nations.  I have a roof over my head; I have electricity and running water, clothing and enough food, so I’m luckier than millions of others across the globe.  But every single day, every single day, I drive through and work in the toughest, most impoverished and violent neighborhoods in my city.  I don’t live it myself, but I get it via a guest’s immersion of sorts.  For twenty-six years I have worked in neighborhoods that would likely make most of you tinkle in your pants from fear even to dip a toe in.  I’ve met children and families living in extreme poverty, and they’ve welcomed me into their lives and homes, shown me hospitality and kindness.

I’ve also been harassed by city denizens.  I’ve been called a white bitch, a cracker, a wide array of clever/horrible/amusing/demeaning epithets simply for being there.  I’ve been told that since I am white, I have no business teaching children who are not.  But this is not a treatise on race relations, because poverty and violence don’t discriminate based on skin color.  The group of men who invaded my friend’s home consisted of African-American, Hispanic and white males, and I hate to perpetuate stereotypes. My lifetime of experiences has taught me that stereotypes can be far from accurate. And divisive. I’m done with divisiveness, and man I can’t wait for the politicians to catch up to me here. Anyway. 

My husband works for the city; one of his co-workers was shot while making a lift in a bucket truck.  He was shot by paint balls, thank the stars, but still, some joyriding cretin thought it’d be funny to shoot at a guy, scaring the crap out of him, just for kicks.  This is fun?  I must have a sophisticated sense of humor then, man.

I know enough to know I know nothing about how to fix this.  But, Little Mary Sunshine here wants this to be the last attack on someone I know.  I want this never to happen to my kids, my husband, a friend.  OK, I want this crap never to happen.  There.  I said it.  Pollyanna is screaming at you, criminals!  It’s not OK that it’s happening in the ‘hood, and that now that’s it’s closer to home, I’m suddenly queen of the block watch.  No.  It’s not OK that it’s happening anywhere.  That is the main idea here.

My friend’s physical injuries will heal. The hole in his floor can be patched or covered. But what about the loss of feeling safe in your very home? The loss of faith in basic human decency?



6 thoughts on “Home Invasion

  1. I’m so sorry for your friend–violence is awful and even worse when it’s so close to home. I love part-time in the core of one of Canada’s largest cities, and I’m always cognizant of the dangers. But I also live in a very small, rural town, and I’m just glad violence hasn’t touched us here yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And I hope it stays that way, that you don’t have to suffer the fools and unfortunates who perpetrate violence either for fun or because they don’t know anything else. Part of me, well ALL of me hates that these acts happen ever. The other part of me, the part that works in the central city and sees the violence and poverty. . . I get it. Kind of. That desperation, the lack of the basics–even basics like love, food, safety–it makes a kind of sense that someone acts out against others. But it’s NEVER OK. I’m not saying this well. I’m glad you’re aware and safe and wise (and here reading !).

      Liked by 2 people

      • I completely understand and agree. The majority of the violence downtown is from people who either live in a constant state of fear, or who suffer from unresolved mental health issues. It doesn’t excuse the violence but if they had more help and compassion, things might change.


  2. In a way, I (maybe) experienced something similar today. (Nobody I know was hurt, though).

    I saw on Twitter that a social housing high-rise in London was burning (-> #Grenfell). The insulation of the facade seems to have caught fire, never saw a building burn like that. Six dead, fifty or sixty in hospital, twenty of them in critical condition, likely more dead people still in the burning house.

    Inhabitants had protested about the danger before, they knew the building was a fire trap, and that something like this was probably going to happen. So I tweeted “Classism kills #Grenfell”

    So this whole thing somehow shocked me considerably more than stuff from war zones or about refugees which is at least as horryfying, and I felt like a total pig and an idiot.
    And then I saw a picture of an inhabitant of the building who had gotten out in time and looked unhurt, and was giving the press a blurb. And she was black or african-british and I don’t even know how to say it politely, because I noticed that people from Africa (that is, who came to Europe in their own lifetime, or who live in Africa) sometimes really don’t like to be called black.

    So I thought, oh shit, it’s (probably) racism, too, that killed these people.
    And I’m such an idiot.
    No wonder that people who get targeted by racism feel that there is so much more racism than I can see.

    And I’m sorry about your friend Matt and the people who lived in Grenfell tower and just everyone who suffered violence or a horrible preventable accident or something this week or ever, really.


    • You’re not an idiot! You have the sensitivity to recognize there is more than meets the eye, and that none of us “knows” what it is like to be in another’s shoes. You have the insight to see that basing a whole system of beliefs on one thing, in this case color, can be dangerous. So, an idiot? No way. Thank you for saying something nice about my friend, and for good wishes for us all.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Decency is in short supply these days, and we need to start asking some really tough questions about ourselves a society — where/how/why we’ve failed each other. I agree with you, Wendy: Our elected leaders lack the political courage to ask these questions, preferring instead to lay blame on this group or that minority, which only perpetuates the cycle of indecency and, ultimately, violence. It’s a tough world out there, and I don’t regret — just speaking personally, for myself — not having brought children into it. I don’t know how one parents effectively, exactly, in times like these.

    Either way, take comfort in knowing you are a good neighbor. Sometimes that’s the best we can do.


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