I think we are far enough removed from this event that I can finally write about it. Probably. I mean, it was a bit traumatic at the moment but everything ended fine.
The screen shot above is an email from my wife. It was sent to me while I was at work, coming from her while she was at work. I froze and my heart stopped…
Was she serious? I wasn’t sure. It had come in 10 minutes prior to me seeing it in my inbox. Was it too late? I needed answers, but I was frozen and I’m not sure my heart was beating…
I grabbed my phone. Texted her:
“Are you serious? Or are you joking?”
“Not joking,” or “serious,” was the quick, short response that flashed onto my screen. To be honest, I am not sure I remember what her response was. All I know is that it confirmed my fears.
At the time I received the email, I was in my classroom teaching history to juniors, or seniors, but that doesn’t really matter. What mattered was my wife was in trouble and I was at least an hour away, I had a room full of students, and I couldn’t panic in front of them or really even alarm them. So, I stepped out of the room with my phone and called the police.
The 911 operator answered and I explained what what going on. That my wife and the other woman in her office were in a situation they didn’t know how to get out of and they weren’t sure how the man would react if he was provoked. The operator asked for an address and said the officers were on their way.
One problem, among many, is that mental illness isn’t dealt with. Often it is ignored, especially in the homeless society that lives right under our noses most days. Is there a better way to help those who need it? Are we wasting money on social services that aren’t needed instead of spending it on social services that are? If someone has a mental illness and they are homeless, are we doing them injustice by allowing them to fend for themselves instead of institutionalizing them and getting them help? Hard questions.
As it turns out, but the time the police got to my wife’s office the man had already stepped outside and was standing out front of the building. When the police arrived, they talked to him out front and they talked with my wife and the other woman in the office. They knew him. They had dealt with him previously, and according to them he was harmless. They talked to him some more and then he walked away towards the bus stop near the office building. The police left.
That was it. It was over. Nothing happened.
Needless to say, the women in the office were a little shaken but they continued to work. They have seen many homeless people wander through the parking lot of that office building. They continue to do their job.
That moment in my classroom, looking at an email from my wife who was in trouble, has stuck with me. Talk about a helpless feeling. Talk about thoughts of the worst going through your head. Panic.
I can’t help but wonder, are there other stories out there like mine, like my wife’s? Tell them to me in the comments. What would you do if you received a message like the one I got?