September 16, 2013

faith and caution when strangers knock

When I grew up respect for authority figures was the norm. For instance, I didn't call my friends parents by their first names; they were Mr. and Mrs. Smith or Jones not John and Jane. With my parents there were no mixed messages. I respected the word and rule of my parents with a healthy measure of fear of consequences.  Being that I grew up in a law enforcement family and a Catholic family, cops and the religious were held in high esteem.  It made for and interesting mix of faith and caution when it came to how I developed in all areas. Needless to say I can truthfully tell you my family is an interesting bunch and that I had an interesting upbringing.

Post their police careers my Dad and my Uncle went into business together in the same beach community where our family beach house was located.  And it brings to mind a something that happened when I was about 14 or 15 years old at the beach house. 

I was glued to the TV watching my first airing of The Godfather so I’m thinking 1974 or 1975. Of course timing being everything it is just at the point of the movie when the director/producer finds the horse head in his bed and my heart is racing, I’m alone and I hear… knock, knock, and knock! I jumped about four feet off the couch made my way to the door to find two men in suits standing at the door.
  
Remember what I said about faith and caution?

 Enter faith.

“We’re agent Mulder and Scully (no that’s not their real names, I stole those from the x-files) and we’re agents with the Federal Government (FBI/ Secret Service) is your Dad home? He glanced to confirm my dad’s name on his little pad, Henry right?” Without thought my hand went up to the lock but I didn’t lock it, for now the door as a barrier was enough.

Enter caution

At that point they each produced badges and showed them to me. I remember thinking as I was looking at the badges; I should ask for more I.D. if they’re real agents they’ll have ID too. “Can I see your I.D’s? They showed me their picture ID’s.

Thinking back I’m sure they had already deduced that I was home alone but I didn't want to tell them that myself after all I was a kid and they were strangers.  When I mentioned I’m going to call Dad and tell him to come home they ask if they can come in the house. Funny how even a thin storm door between them and me gave me the tiny bit of courage.  I said no and told them to wait outside. Then I locked the storm and wood door and dialed Dad.

Dad arrived in five minutes and they all came in together. Introductions were made and they got down to business at hand which if you’re curious had something to do with someone or other and counterfeit money being passed in local businesses.

Then surprisingly one of the agents said to Dad with a grin, “I’m guessing you were a cop?”  “Yes.”  Dad replied. “And you know this how?”  The agent went on to exclaim. “Only a cop’s kid would grill us about our credentials and then leave us on the porch, you raised her well.” And he shook my Dads hand as if to congratulate him.

Then Dad turned to me. “Why didn’t you let them in?” All three pairs of eyes turned towards me and I knew they were very curious to hear my explanation. I took a deep breath knowing I had faith that I used common sense and exercised caution the way my Dad had taught me in order to keep me safe in an unsafe world.
Then I explained.

“The decision was simple.”  “How was I supposed to know the badges and I.D’s were real if I’ve never seen one before?”  “For all I know they could have come from the five and ten cent store.”

25 comments:

  1. Brilliant! Your daddy didn't raise no fool!

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  2. Thats a nice recall. My dad would have strung me up if I had let strangers in the hose ! lol

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  3. Its interesting with them being in law enforcement so to speak, and them deducing you were probably home alone, that they still would have asked to come into the house. To protect themselves, I would have thought they would have wanted to wait outside. Its kind of like when I take a little one to the bathroom at church, I always wait by the door with the door halfway open so that I don't stand a chance of getting accused of anything, know what I mean?

    betty

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    1. I couldn't begin to guess weather being alone with an adolescent girl was something they were concerned about back in the 70's.

      You're right now we always have to be mindful even with kids we know. Sort of sad.

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  4. You rule.
    True story...I was on the phone with my mother in law who has the habit of never shutting up. There was a knock on the door and I opened it. it was supposed to be the cable guy but turned out to be some dude who was supposed to be next door to fix their washing machine. he just went downstairs...stupid me.
    He came up and grilled me about letting people in the house without asking why they are there. Lesson learned.
    I'm glad that you're one smart kid!

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  5. Great choice. Badges can be fake, just like the claim of guys who say 'your parents sent me to pick you up because they had an emergency.' A stranger is a stranger, no matter what.
    I'll have to tell my son your story. :)

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    1. Any trained police officer or agent should understand that a child would want to call their parents. It makes sense, really.

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  6. You are soooo SMART :)

    I would have let Ted Bundy in if he asked. WHAT a dork!

    Xxxx

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  7. Well done Jen. You had a good dose of common sense even back then.

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  8. Oh man! The "real" FBI! And you held your own. That is awesome! And I'm sure Dad was secretly super proud. :-)

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    1. Often wondered what my father's reaction would have been if they were aggravated with me.

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  9. What a smart kid you were...are, Jen!
    Great story and I bet not too many kids would have reacted how you did! Your parents did good!

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    1. Probably didn't have to be quite as cautious back then. I've always had a healthy suspicion of those who have power over me.... especially because they can wield it. The 60's taught me that, not my dad.

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  10. Hi Jen - well that's better .. and obviously your Dad raised you well. It's always better to be safe than sorry!

    Cheers Hilary

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  11. My parent's weren't in law enforcement but owned a convenient store where getting robbed was not unusual.. and I think that threat made us more cautious by nature. Hope we can pass it on and instill it into our children.. great post.

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  12. I had not thought about what a quagmire faith and and caution create when both are necessary in a given situation. You handled it well! :-) How is the garden? We dodged a frost last week. A hundred feet up the lane in the open field, they got it. Nice to see you!

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  13. Hello Blogging Friend...Isn't it nice to have cooler weather now that 'Fall' is here.   The changing season isn't the only thing happening in Blogland.  Here on CollectInTexas Gal, I've done a bit of a 'MakeOver' and added a BlogShop.   I'd like to take this opportunity to invite you over for a 'LookSee'.  Just click on the signature link below...hope to see you there.
    Sue CollectInTexas BlogShop

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