Country Paranoia

Do you lock your doors at home? What about your car? Do you secure it every time you get out of it? Boy, I’ve been doing that for years. What about you?

Well, I recently was smacked in the face with another country-living realization. We went out of town for several days and a friend agreed to feed the dogs while we were gone. My husband also requested she move the truck around the yard to make it look like we were still there. It’s a standard security precaution.

You should have seen her face when I handed her our house keys and relayed Tommy’s request. She laughed and said, “My husband doesn’t even own a house key—we don’t lock our doors.” She thought we were being paranoid, I guess!

I did realize that folks out here still leave their keys in their cars and weren’t necessarily diligent about locking up their houses, but my friend’s reaction (laughing, indulgent, a bit sheepish and a bit condescending) cued me into the fact that we have brought our “big city” ways out to the country.

After all we’ve had our car broken into, a house burglarized, my son’s house burglarized, (all in “the big city”—not out here); I’ve caught shoplifters, been physically threatened on jobs by customers, spent major amounts of time worrying about work safety in retail settings, delivered newspapers in housing projects in the wee hours of the morning (no, none of out here); I’ve traveled the world, met a lot of bizarre folks, seen a lot of troublesome things; my husband’s been a cop and a 911 dispatcher (he thinks he’s seen everything).

My “paranoia” isn’t unnatural: it’s earned! I’ve always locked the car doors when I get out, no matter where I am—like even at the gas station when pumping gas. We always lock the house when we leave home. My husband has always driven me nuts because he locks the doors when inside. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone out the back door and tried to come in the front a few minutes later, only to find it locked when I least expect it!

My husband prefers covering every window with blinds, shades or curtains. (I think he kept a record of the numbers of peeping toms while at 911.) Once he started working every night and I started eating out in the evenings, he even told me he didn’t want me out after dark. (Yeah, sure!)

I mean after all, right after I opened my store, a Christian bookstore in the same shopping center got robbed in broad daylight. Women do get abducted by men slipping into their cars while at the gas station. Houses get robbed, people get mugged, and violent arguments can erupt any where, right?

On further reflection, I can truthfully say I really admire my neighbors’ feelings of safety. It must be nice to feel that comfortable, that secure.

I have to tell you though—my habits are changing out here in the country. When you don’t ever see anyone walking your road, when the only vehicles you see either are folks that live or work out here, when you can’t even hear people most of the time, one does tend to relax a little.

Nowadays we still lock the doors but now we leave the windows open when away though I probably wouldn’t do that if it weren’t for the three noisy (and, of course, “vicious”) dogs. In the city, I wouldn’t at all. Tommy has quit keeping all the doors locked all the time. (What a relief!) I’ve put sheers on the living room windows and there aren’t any window coverings at all in the kitchen.

The bathroom blinds on the window above the toilet stay up and/or open. (I think he gets a kick watching our rabbits cavort in the back yard!)

I never lock my car doors at home anymore. Well, almost never. I occasionally forget and lock them. It’s just not a habit I want to break actually.

I just realized recently, however, that I’m gaining new habits that I wasn’t expecting. Now when someone drives up in the yard, I leap to the window to check them out before they even get out of the car. If I’m by myself, I find myself tensing, worrying once again about my safety.

I do know in parts of this country, folks “hello” the house before approaching. I understand today’s Indians in the southwest still practice the custom of “helloing” the house and waiting for an invitation before approaching. I can see where this might be necessary living in isolated areas. One could get shot by being too forward out there.

I guess I can’t expect my guests to “hello” my house; there’s too many city folk running around. They wouldn’t understand why it should be necessary. I think I’m going to start discretely “packing” a pistol instead.

Yep, my paranoia is changing: it now has a country style to it!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Abigail Spratlin

    I believe you were talking about me!!!!!
    I now live in a small town and lock my apartment door when leaving and after entering. My how times have changed! I still don’t like to lock my car door but do sometimes.
    I also believe at the time of your writing I had a large aggressive 180 lb English Mastiff who stayed in the house while I was gone. I really don’t think I would have had a problem with folks getting past my Nelson.

  2. admin

    If the shoe fits! Nope, you wouldn’t have had a problem with Nelson there. But you still thought us weird about moving that truck around while we were gone!

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