This Columbus Day 2015 will make it twelve years since Frank and I had our apartment robbed. We lived ultra close to the community college we both attended. Our apartment complex was nestled in a massive area of other apartment complexes. Tons and tons of all kinds of people living literally on top of each other. I was raised to be pretty cautious, so to help myself FEEL safer as I walked to the car each morning to get to my 6:45am math class I would carry a copper pipe. It was about a foot and a half long and roughly cut so both ends were jagged. I would walk down the stairs through the dark sidewalks and creeping parking lot to my car, holding the pipe in my hand up in striking position all the while looking around constantly and jumping at every shadow. My husband, who at the time was a plumber, had already left for work (that’s where I got the copper pipe, a tossed away piece from one of his construct sites) or I would have had him walk me to my car. Looking back now I surely appeared insane to anyone who may have seen me, and chances are if I was attacked the copper pipe wouldn’t have helped me, but I needed to feel like I was attempting to protect myself.
Sometimes I would also pretend to talk to someone on the phone. My Mom and Dad worked opposite hours when they were first married and she walked into her home one night alone to see the last half of a man’s body stepping out of one of her windows. Too afraid to walk back out her door and too afraid to be alone she called her Aunt Fern and talked to her, long after Aunt Fern hung up my Mom kept talking until my Dad got home. So using her technique I would sometimes have fake phone conversations on the way to the car through the early morning dark and creepy apartment complex.
The first fall we lived there, Columbus Day, I got a phone call from my husband at the salon I was working at. Our conversation went something like this.
Husband: “Did you leave the door open when you left for work today?”
Me: “No, why would I do that. Why would you ask that? Of course I didn’t leave the door open.
Husband: “Well it is open now.”
Me: “WHAT! Don’t go inside. Call the police.”
Husband (completely ignoring me and going inside anyway): “Well it looks like a wreck in here.”
Me (freaking out, screaming into the phone outside of the salon while the other stylists are out there on smoke breaks watching and listening to me): “DON’T GO INSIDE! CALL THE POLICE! WHAT IF SOMEONE IS STILL INSIDE?”
Husband (walking around apartment): “Yeah, we got robbed. They wrecked every room. They pulled everything apart. Yeah we definitely got robbed.”
By the time I got home Frank’s relative who worked then as a detective for the police department was there talking with him. This sweet relative was good at watching over us. Soon another officer arrived and he dusted for prints on the kitchen window that the robber(s) broke to get into the apartment. We went over with the officer the things that were taken, which was a very short list in regards to value, but a high cost in regards to our emotional well-being.
They pulled every drawer and shelf out in our living room, then moved on to the one bedroom in our tiny apartment. They stormed our closet. The burglars, showing their age, took Frank’s very old Sony Play Station, his Adidas shower sandals from his mission, and the small handful of souvenir hats he had bought in Australia on his mission. They quickly found my box with all my tip money in it from the past couple of weeks at the salon and my state quarter collection. They emptied my jewelry box out. I had no jewelry that was worth any money but I did have a collection of unique novelty wrist watches that my Mom had given me as Christmas presents over the past couple of years. They took any backpacks or bags we had in the closet and filled them with the stuff they took. One of the bags they took was my temple bag. They did not empty the bag out. The temple dress made from gorgeous white eyelet fabric that my Mom had made for me that I had gotten married in was in the bag.
The robbery totally freaked us both out. I was so scared to be alone in the apartment. I one can imagine after picturing me walking through a parking lot with a copper pipe raised in my hand, I went to even more extreme and ridiculous precautions for a while in my attempts to protect myself and feel safe. Definitely added to my natural paranoia. It was not a hard choice a few months later in regards to if we would renew our lease or not.
It is important for us to remember “the robbery of 03’.” And it is crazy to think that so many years have passed since I was walking through the parking lot with a copper pipe raised and ready to strike. It turns out that Frank didn’t need those really cool souvenir’s to remember the growth, change, and increase of faith he experienced on his mission to Australia. Not having my gorgeous homemade temple dress did not change the fact that my Mom took the time to make it for me and show me her love through that gift of time and talent. Going through that experience together made us a stronger couple. We saw quickly that stuff was stuff and once it was gone whether taken, lost, or ruined we still had each other. They never caught the thieves, although we have pictured them often wearing Frank’s Adidas shower sandals and Australian Cork Hat and my watch with a wrist band made out of basketball leather all while playing a very old Sony Play Station and admiring my state quarter collection. We are positive they have all our stuff somewhere still. It wasn’t worth anything, but it was surely too awesome to throw away.