02 January 2006

Unexpected meeting

What a day. Talked to F. this morning and we arranged to meet up at a thrift store at 1:30pm. Gram went along with me, as she’s always needing a trip to our local Good Will. We arrived about five minutes late. We parked near the door, didn’t see F. outside, and went into the store. Gram needed to exchange a fake fur coat that cost her $15 second-hand but would have cost another $35 to dry clean, so I got her started in the right line and looked around for F.

To my surprise, I saw C., the husband she ran away from last night, instead, lurking about near the entrance to the office. He saw me and I greeted him as neutrally as possible, and my mind began racing with questions: Has he seen F. already? Is she here? Can I head her off and prevent them from meeting? In a few minutes, I was paged over the store intercom. There was some confusion about that page among the employees, but eventually I was led to the office where F., scared and crying, was waiting and fell into my arms. C., oddly enough, had mysteriously come to this place at the perfect time, looking for her, and had spotted her in the parking lot on her way in. She’d seen him and run from him. He had chased and yelled after her to stop and talk, and she had asked for help inside the store. F. and I talked a long time.

I knew it was up to me to mediate. I searched my mind and prayed to understand what to do. I talked with F. about the possibility of requesting a police restraining order on C. I urged her to call her church leader immediately and let him know the situation, and she did. He gave her some good counsel and comfort and asked me to speak for them both and relay some messages to C., along the lines of ‘Until you have your meds adjusted and until we get you straightened out, you are not to contact F., stalk her, follow her, etc.’ F. and I talked some more, and then I went out to deal with C.

I left the office and motioned for him to come over and sit with me at a dining table and chairs that were being displayed near the registers. We talked a long time. I was straightforward with him, and did a lot of restating and re-emphasizing, but was able to actually feel and display respect and concern. He is a sick man, and I’m still certain he is dangerous; his view is warped and irresponsible and I could discern many subtle attempts on his part to manipulate me and control the situation. He didn’t succeed, and I didn’t lose my head or my nerve. It felt extremely important that I look him steadily in the eye and talk with him until he himself was spent, however long that took, and had physically left the premises so he couldn't follow us. I found out later that the floor manager who’d been helping F. had been very concerned that I would go out and make a big scene with C. (I guess I was rather convincing as I did my back-room “avenging angel” warm-up exercises to help F. laugh and relax), and was very grateful that the communication I had with him was quiet and relatively calm and didn’t disrupt shoppers. C.'s part of the conversation, if you can call it that, was wierd. I think I won’t detail out the talk, but I found myself being direct . . . and, I think, divinely directed.

C. was obviously reluctant to leave the store and seemed to be trying to vanish from my radar after we were done visiting; he meandered over to a water fountain and took a long drink, then hung around outside the office. When he saw that I hadn’t moved from my watch, and that I had my eye on him, he slowly slinked back over to me and talked some more. Eventually he left the store. I followed him outside and watched where he went to make sure he didn't pull anything. When I was satisfied that he would stay gone I went inside and talked with F. again in the privacy of the office--the staff was amazingly kind and cooperative--and then we rejoined Gram and we shopped. F. got some necessaries. Gram made her exchange. I found a brown sweater. We had fun shopping and cheering F. on and up. Gram set us up to an overdue 4:30pm lunch at Wendy’s, I picked up a pair of new earplugs from home for F., and then we delivered her safely and unfollowed to the shelter. Oh, oh, what a day.

5 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Wow, Georgia. That took some courage. There seems to be something so neat about having to stand up about something that you feel passionately about, and especially to do it in behalf of someone you really care about. She's lucky to have you as a friend.

Geo said...

!!

Thanks, Liz. It's funny, because it was a lot of years before I ever found myself in a situation that allowed me to discover this "side" of myself. It only ever comes out in behalf of somebody else, somebody I want to protect, and it always amazes me the instinctive fierceness I feel well up, without my even having to summon it. Maybe I nervously check behind me again and again when I'm out alone in a strange place, but give me a sister or a friend who's in trouble and suddenly I get a rush of terribleness. I might even grow fangs--I've never thought to look in a mirror at that point. Maybe next time . . . .

: )

Azúcar said...

How scary! You were so calm in the face of it all! I hope she does get an official restraining order, at least for the paper trail of it all.

Geo said...

Carina: Adrenalin was a great invention. ; )

Chemical Billy said...

Ah, Geo, what a time you've been having... I see that fierce-in-the-cause of justice every time I look at you.