I had been writing another blog post on trying to write positive things on the internet (as we all know, negative things are much easier to write about) when something crazy happened to me this week which I needed to share.
It started in the wee morning hours the day after my birthday. I was in The Bahamas with my parents and my sister staying at a time share we’ve been going to for almost 30 years now. We know all of the guests that go at the same time every year and we love them like relatives we only have to see once a year. I had already been there for a week with my parents when my sister came down to overlap with me and spend the second week with mom and dad as they are getting on in years and need some help getting around.
On Sunday, my birthday, we ended up ordering dinner from a restaurant down the street where my sister and I picked up the food. While we were there, the credit card machine wouldn’t work. Not to the fault of the credit card, but to the internet that seems to come and go with the wind down in the islands. My sister and I pooled our cash and paid for the dinner. On our way home a man, who was holding a lot of new mops and brooms walked past us and asked for the time. Upon finding out, he was upset since he clearly missed the last jitney (bus). He asked us where we were from and then told us he’d recently lost his mom. His mannerisms and odd comments gave me pause as I tapped my sister on the arm to fall back in our walking speed until he was further ahead of us.
My sister said “thanks for always protecting me!” She reminisced about an incident that happened a few years ago in Rome. We were at the train station walking up a large staircase with my sister in law and niece when two street kids ran up on either side of our group yelling and screaming. I looked up to see one kid looking back down the stairs at his friend and as I followed his gaze I saw the other one reaching for Caroline’s purse.
“GET YOUR FUCKING HANDS OFF HER GOD-DAMNED BAG,” yelled this guttural voice from deep within my body. My sister in law and niece who were ahead of us spun around thinking it was a man screaming. The street urchins ran away. I scared them and myself a little.
Back in The Bahamas, Caroline and I laughed about Rome as we walked to the resort. Our time share is a three level ocean unit with a kitchen, living room, powder room and dining room on the ground level, a spiral staircase that takes you to the second floor where the master bedroom and a guest room are located, then the staircase ends up at the top bedroom which doesn’t have a door. Mom and Dad stay in the master and my sister is in the guest room — I call it the cocoon room (she likes to keep the curtains closed and very dark). I stay on the top floor with the curtains slightly open so I can wake up with the sun. I also generally have to wear earplugs when I sleep since I can hear everyone downstairs talking in the living room.
Dinner was delicious and then I opened some lovely gifts. We all went to bed around 10PM. I put my earplugs in that night.
Somewhere around 2:15AM, in a deep sleep, I felt something touch my thigh. I turned my head opening my eyes to see the silhouette of a man dressed in only a bathing suit standing in my room. Within seconds, I was on my feet running and screaming THERE’S SOMEONE IN THE HOUSE with that same husky, rough Rome voice multiplied by 1000. As I chased him down the stairs unable to say anything else over and over and over again, my sister ran out of her room as did my parents from theirs.
When I got to the bottom step, logic took over telling me to be cautious. I looked around the living room and then I saw the dining room slider slightly ajar. I also saw the kitchen door open. Both had been locked before we went to bed. They lead out to an enclosed patio with a 12 foot wall surrounding it. I ran to the kitchen door still screaming. All I saw was the arm and top of the head of the intruder. I stood there screaming into the wind hearing the ocean waves crashing thinking no one could hear me.
It didn’t look like anything had been stolen as everything was in its place. The police came and went. Then when the general manager and head of security arrived, we realized that cash had been taken from our wallets. Credit cards and other id’s were left behind as were our iPads and electronics. The odd thing was my moms purse, which was in a bureau drawer near the entryway, had been taken out then a rubber band removed from around her wallet, $130 in cash taken, the rubber band was put back on, the wallet was tucked back into the purse and the purse placed back in the drawer. This guy had time and he was a pro.
In my room, my wallet was zipped up but $40 was missing and my Tiffany watch and another watch were gone along with a ring from my nightstand. All he was looking for was cash and jewelry.
On the counter near the dining room slider we found two knives. One clearly had a fingerprint on the blade. Even with the slider latched, the guy was able to pull the glass apart just enough to slide the blade in and pull the latch up and open. Damn I wish I hadn’t worn my earplugs that night…I know I would have heard something downstairs. The head of security reviewed the tapes and said she saw nothing outside. The camera was 4 units down and a large palm frond hung down covering the field of vision. I asked where the camera was on the unit next to us. She said that the sea air had corroded it and they were waiting for a replacement.
None of us ended up sleeping the rest of the night. I finished packing as I was heading home that afternoon. Neighbors all came by to check in on us as the story spread around the complex at lighting speed. One neighbor said he did hear what he thought was a “woman being mauled by wild dogs.” Since I wasn’t screaming HELP, he couldn’t understand what I was saying and didn’t come out. Note to self, I will throw HELP in should something like this ever happen again.
Two more officers showed up and took my statement. One of them didn’t know what the word ‘silhouette’ meant. When I finished my statement the other officer asked “So what do you want us to do about this? Investigate it?” Hmm, I thought, ‘Isn’t that your job?’ I looked at the resort GM and said now that everyone out by the pool knows what happened, I would think you would want to investigate this, especially since it looks like an inside job. It didn’t take a CSI investigator to realize someone knew the slider was defective and that the camera was missing. The cops who were completely disinterested took some tissues and placed the knives in a used zip lock I handed them from the kitchen. They looked at us as if we’re wealthy American’s and who cares if you were robbed of a few things you can easily replace.
I got in my taxi and headed to the airport. As I sat on the plane the pilot came on and said that one of the computers wasn’t responding…the one that controls the steering. Great, is this day going to get any worse I thought. He said he was basically going to perform what amounted to a CONTROL ALT DELETE to see if it would start. Seriously? It didn’t work. We were towed back to the gate where the pilot told us he would turn the plane OFF then ON again. Are we going to have to get the India call center on the phone next, I wondered. The on/off worked, just like at home with my laptop.
We arrived in Miami too late for me to make my connection to LA. I was automatically booked on the next flight so I went to the counter for my seat assignment. It could have been my voice, which sounded like Marge Simpson at this point, or maybe it was my overall disheveled appearance but the guy at the counter did a double take when he saw me, and definitely not in a good way. He printed out a pass which when I looked at it over the counter I said desperately, “I’m sorry, but I can’t sit in 39F.” He said let’s see if we can upgrade you. You can do that I asked…it was a mileage ticket and usually you can’t upgrade those. Magically he handed me 12D…Business Class. “I love you,” I croaked.
I had just settled into my seat when the flight attendant came over with water, champagne and orange juice. I chose water as I glanced up at her. She appeared to be undergoing gender reassignment transition from a man to a woman. Having recently watched the Bruce Jenner interview, I was very happy for her. Unfortunately she wasn’t looking as good as Bruce. She had a potbelly, still developing small breasts for her frame, shoulder length pomegranate red permed hair wearing wire rimmed glasses, all which gave her the appearance of a life size Raggedy Ann doll.
During the flight I ate my dinner, watched a movie and then fell into a deep, deep sleep. I felt a tap on my shoulder and began to scream at the top of my lungs. As I opened my eyes Raggedy Ann stood over me looking panicked saying “Oh no, it’s ok, calm down. I just want your head sets.” I covered my mouth and apologized profusely explaining what had occurred just hours before in our condo.
She was so sweet and comforting even bringing me some water. She then asked me if I’d read Homers Odyssey. The non sequitur was a bit jarring given my day so far and waking from a deep sleep. She said it was about a blind cat and that I should read it. I was confused and still shaken and I couldn’t remember if I’d read it…maybe I just read the Cliff Notes but I didn’t remember anything about a blind cat in The Odyssey. Then I drifted back into a lighter sleep and upon landing I found a scribbled note on my armrest which read HOMERS ODYSSEY BLIND CAT. A day or so later I Googled it and found a book called Homers Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wondercat. Definitely not The Odyssey by Homer. One of the stories written includes how the cat thwarted a robber in his owners apartment. Ah, now I understood why she told me about it. Sorta.
All in all, it was the strangest 24 hours. By the time I got home, I half expected Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Adrian Brody to be sitting in my living room asking my thoughts on quantum physics.
In retrospect, I am looking at all of the positive things that happened on that crazy day.
1) No one was hurt — thank God!
2) Since the credit card machine wasn’t working at the restaurant and I had to pay cash, the robber only got away with $40 and not $100 that would have been in my wallet.
3) The ring he stole had two crisscrossing bands, one in black tourmaline-like stones and the other looked like diamonds. It must have sparkled beautifully on my nightstand. The joke was on him though…I got the ring in a store which was having a seventy-five percent off sale. The ring was $12.50…so I bought two. I would love to see his face when he tries to fence the crystal ring only to be told it’s worthless!
4) I learned that of Fight or Flight, I’m a fucking fighter who won’t let anyone mess with her family.
5) CONTROL ALT DELETE and OFF/ON work for pretty much everything…even Life.
6) People are inherently good — from the resort Lifeguard who gave me a towel with the Bahamian flag on it because he felt bad about what had happened to the gate agent who upgraded me and finally to the sweet flight attendant who was so very kind, I saw the goodness in people that day.
7) I just downloaded Homers Odyssey to my kindle. The one about a blind cat.
“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” ~ Mark Twain