Tonight, I sat down to a glass of wine after a long day of fun in the sun with 3 exhausted kids and a husband MIA from work. After walking in the door to a message from the bank saying my debit card number had been compromised in the form of a shopping spree by a hoodlum in Florida and needed to be destroyed, I settled on the couch with a fresh glass of wine & chatted for a couple of minutes with my friend on the phone. Out of habit, I popped the computer onto Facebook, where it sat idle a few moments. That is until my friend Tracy sent me an IM saying there had been a woman shot extremely close to my house. The shooter was still at large, get my kids inside and lock the doors.
Maybe if I hadn’t run from my street to that busy corner a hundred times with my Garmin strapped securely to my wrist, it wouldn’t have hit me so hard. I wouldn’t have realized just how close that intersection really was to my house. It would have taken a minute more to absorb what she had just said. But I did know, it was less than 1/4 mile away. It hit me that I was a woman alone in a home with 3 small children to care for and protect.
I sprang to life before my brain could fully comprehend what it had read. As I thought to myself ‘holy crap’, I was already busy closing and locking windows. The kids were safely tucked in the basement with the only entry through our ranch style windows and doors. I closed the living room windows first with the game plan to make my way to the doors. The front of the house secure, I moved to the bedrooms. As I struggled to lock our bedroom windows is when it really struck me how ill-equipped I was to handle this kind of situation.
People like to tell me all the time how small I am and I like to say that size is just a number but this situation was a painful reminder that being a petite woman is not always a plus. I am small and as I
cursed blessed each window that wouldn’t lock, I wondered how I might go about guarding my home. As big as I talk, it’s just that… talk. Don’t get me wrong. I am scrappy. I’ll go down swinging and hopefully, I’ll scratch your eyes out. But I’m untrained, tiny and mostly uncoordinated.
I wished with everything inside me that Dan was there right then to load a gun and protect us if it came down to it. I’ve never spent a night in fear with him around because I know he has guns and more importantly, he knows how to use them (safely). He is smart and savvy. He knows when to be worried and when not to fret. I saw all too clearly the error in assuming I’d always be safe because he was my husband. I knew I would be if he were there but he wasn’t. He was working two hours away. I would have to figure it out for myself.
I was pretty sure the solution right now lay in one of his guns sitting in my lap, my hands wrapped tightly around the stock as I sat guard on the same couch where my distress had begun. After a brief consult with Dan, I decided an armed, small Chris was much better than an unarmed, small Chris…
Me: “I want a shotgun just in case. Is it loaded?”
Dan: “No! You really think I would keep a loaded shotgun in our house?”
Me: “Well, I thought you said it wasn’t but I couldn’t remember right this second so I thought I’d ask. So it’s not loaded? I won’t kill our people?”
Dan: “No, but there’s probably some ammo under the bed. Check there.”
Me (simultaneously thinking I should clean better and also…) “Uh, I don’t want to load it. I don’t even know how to load it. I’m pretty sure I’m not equipped to handle live ammo, I just want to look big and sound scary.”
Dan: “Well, get my over & under shotgun then.”
Me: “YES! I want that!!” This gun was a scary maker. An over and under shotgun with a light mounted on it. I was positive the only appropriate response to being blinded by it’s light as you heard it being cocked was to pee your pants. Exactly what I was going for! As I pulled open it’s gun case is when Dan had the same thought… I’d have to build it myself. There it lay in a case in pieces. Then he said it out loud, just in case I wasn’t smart enough to figure that out…
Dan: “You’ll have to put it together though. It’s in the case.”
Me: “I’m not fricken McGuyver!!” But only in my head because I know not to yell at the dude telling me about gunnery. I opted for the fully assembled shotgun instead.
And this is where my realization of JUST HOW UNEQUIPPED I AM TO LIVE ALONE came…
Dan: “Oh, if you want to cock it, there’s a button by the trigger. Press that and you can.”
I moved a button on the top and then found what I thought he was talking about. I tried cocking it for practice AND THE BARREL FELL OFF! I’m so not even joking…
Me: “Oh no!! The barrel fell off! Oh my gosh! Now I have no barrel!! How do I fix that??”
Dan: “I don’t know? I don’t even know what you did so I don’t know how to tell you to fix it?”
Me: “I told you! The barrel! The thing that the bullet shoots out of FELL OFF!”
I picked it up off the floor and sadly realized that I was indeed going to have to build a gun. And it struck me again how I could have prepared a little better for this if I’d paid attention to life. I remembered last years new’s story about an 18 year old woman who lost her husband on Christmas morning to cancer only to have 2 men break into her home on New Year’s Eve with her 3 month old baby in the house. She shot and killed one of the men as he entered her home with a shotgun. The other man ran off, later to be apprehended by police.
Um… yeah, that’s not me. Just in case you haven’t met me. I DON’T DO THAT!
‘Ok Chris, this gun is mostly built. You just have to put it back together a tiny bit.’ was the pep talk I gave myself.
I used every episode of Bugs Bunny I’d ever watched and managed to put the barrel in the right place. Ah, I see what’s wrong. The barrel-maker stay-a-nater hadn’t been tightened up. I’m sure that’s not the technical term but I’m no sniper so that’s what I called it. I put my (unloaded) gun back together and more importantly, it cocked without the barrel falling off. I was in bidness….
I stood in my living room window with my (freshly reassembled) shotgun in clear view as I looked over my neighbor’s homes just in case a gunman was looking for somewhere to go. That’s when I noticed the street was barren and how every single neighbor was doing the same as me… standing in the window, phone pressed against their ear. PS. I was the only one holding a gun. Which made me feel better because obviously they were going to get taken hostage first. Not me. That equals winning in my book.
I sat back on the couch with the shotgun firmly resting on my lap and considered my next move when Emma and the little girl I was watching came skipping into the kitcheb. Arm in arm, they sang a giddy number. I slyly moved the gun off my lap to their obstructed view.
Me: “Um, hey. So is the movie over now? Whatcha doing?”
Girls: “Yeah, it’s done.”
Me: “Oh, ok. Why don’t you go watch tv and not come back up again?”
And then they did. They were gone so fast, I half wondered if I really was part ninja and that’s why they didn’t notice the gun sitting in my lap or I’m so hard to get a read on that they have just come to expect the unexpected. I’m still unsure.
What I do know is I’m now reconsidering some life choices from this night’s occurence:
1. I don’t want to live here anymore
I haven’t for a while and now this seems like a giant slap in the face of exactly why I don’t want to be here anymore. I’m moving soon. Want to buy a house?
2. There should totally be a 411 Crisis Line
As I sat tonight, wondering how long I should worry and more importantly, how long I should sit with a weapon propped on my lap, I realized there should be an emergency hotline that updates you on WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON! The news sucks. It tells you nothing in real-time but a 411 Crisis Hotline could update the people who desperately need to know what the hell is going on when they need to know. It could be used in hurricanes, tornadoes, police situations, floods, anything.
3. I’m grossly ill-equipped to take care of myself.
I have never lived alone. I lived with my family and then I lived with Dan. That’s it. Why anyone would ever leave me alone, particularly in the care of little people is beyond me? The world is dangerous and I DO NOT HAVE EXTENSIVE WEAPON’S TRAINING! You should probably teach me how to cock a gun without the barrel-maker stay-a-nater falling off. Or at least tell me the real names of parts so I don’t have to sound like a jerk. Thanks.
4. The world is pretty messed up.
In almost the same instance that I found out a person had been shot 1/4 mile from my home, with the gunman running loose, my friend told me there was a police blockade in the town where Dan was working 2 hours away because a gunman had shot a police officer and was possibly holding a hostage inside. It’s not a big city at all and if you realized how tiny Michigan really is outside of Detroit, you’d be shocked. Shocked! Plus, I had just been told a few minutes before that how someone had stolen my debit card number to go on a wild shopping spree… to Target. Really?? You go to the trouble to steal someone’s debit card number but you choose to risk it all at Target. Is this world messed up?!? I rest my case.
5. I need to be a sniper by 2013
If not a sniper, I need to at least need to be able to hit the broad side of a barn. Or at least know how to load a gun. Oh, and how to assemble one too because apparently all the weapons in our house are like legos and need to be put together. How have I lived here for so long and totally didn’t know? And yes, I know that the only thing worse than having an idiot outside my house with a gun is to have an idiot inside my house with a gun. Learning to shoot a gun means doing so safely and responsibly.
6. Variety is not the fricken spice of life!
Whoever said variety is the spice of life is a moron and has never sat inside their home like a caged bird, trying to protect 3 children with their husband 2 hours away. Because if they had, they wouldn’t say something so stupid! The spice of life is fun! Not variety. Tonight was a variety show I never want to experience again. I totally could have lived without the night’s events. Totally
7. I love my big dogs
For those of you with little dogs, I salute you. I know little dogs that I love and am totally into but guess what?? I am little. I’m not going to scare anybody. Guess what does? BIG dogs. I felt better tonight that I was sandwiched in between two 80lb dogs that would eat somebody if they thought about walking through my door. Scout loves me like it’s his full-time job and Bailey loves our kids like it’s hers. Totally covered!! I’m also a fan of doors that lock. They’re good too. But just in case they don’t work, I like giant canine teeth that eats things that are mean to me. It’s a fun spice of life.
So I write this fresh on the heels of a scary, exciting, life assessing night. It’s 2:09am and I feel a little better. Mostly because of my two 80 lb pups on my bed to snuggle with in the absence of my husband but also because another realization came to me tonight. As small as I am, I will do whatever is in my power to protect my people. I might not be a pro but tonight proved I will do everything I can to shield those I love. Bad people be warned… I have spunk and I’m not afraid to use it! Well, a little but I’m totally getting weapons training. So there’s that.