It was a bright, sunny, early spring day. The weather had been unseasonably warm the whole week so we took a few "sunshine holidays". After a cold Michigan winter, I knew that it was time to get outdoors again. The children loved it and spent most of the daylight hours getting reacquainted with their bikes and roller blades. This went on most of the week. That's when we received our unexpected visitor.
"Mom, there's a man here to talk to you!" Jason hollered from the stairway. (I had just put the younger ones down for a nap and I was in the basement putting in a load of laundry.)
"What did you say?" (My head deep inside the dryer.)
"There's some big guy out here and he says he's gotta talk to you." he repeated.
"Who is he?"
"I dunno, the Social Services or something."
(Department of Social Services? No, he couldn't mean that. He's confused.)
I quickly went upstairs. There was a big, rather plump, tall man standing in the driveway. Looking around the front yard. I called the two older ones inside and told them to sit quiet in the house. (Thankfully, they obeyed the first time.) I tried to collect my thoughts and ran through the drill in my head. Don't panic. Look calm. Don't let him inside. And never, never let him see me sweat.
"Hello!" I said, cheerfully extending my hand, "How can I help you?"
"Hello! I have been driving around the neighborhood this week and I've noticed your children out playing." (He pauses.) I don't say anything.
"Have you lived here long?" he asks.
"Who are you?" I respond. (Wow! I shock myself, that sounded pretty confident.)
"My name is "John" from the Department of Social Services and I would like to ask you a few questions. " I don't say anyting. (I learned in sales don't answer their questions make them answer yours)
"How long have you lived here?" he questioned again.
"How do I know?" I responded.
"How do you know what?" He replied sounding mildly perturbed.
"That you are who you say you are?"
"Well, its right here, (He reaches for his necktie looking for an ID tag that isn't there.) "Just one minute." (He goes to the backseat of his car and begins to shuffle papers around mumbling something about his office and getting more organized. I try to suppress a giggle.) He emerges a few minutes later red faced and full of sweat. Okay, he's flustered. I relax a little.
"Here it is!" (He produces an ID badge and hangs it back in its rightful spot.) I stand there silent. His whole demeanor has now changed. He tries a more conversational style and begins to explain that they are investigating some neighbors and that they want to know what I know about them. He talks for some time. (Totally relief inside but not letting down my guard.) After he finishes his lttle story about how terrrible he thinks my neighbor is he asks me if I have noticed anything susupicious.
"If I have a problem with my neighbor I will talk to my neighbor." I reply.
"But aren't you concerned?"
"If I have a problem with my neighbor I will talk to my neighbor."
"But (and he reveals a piece of confidentail information.) doesn't that bother you?"
"If I have a problem with my neighbor I will talk to my neighbor." (this is repeated a few more times in a vain attempt to get me to talk.)
"But....Okay, I get it...you'll talk to your neighbor. If you change your mind, here's my card, give me a call."
He leaves and I "properly" file the card. The children run back outside to play. I make a mental note to buy better deoderant. The dryer beeps. Oh, yeah it's time to put in another load of laundry.