Thursday, October 27, 2005

Big Brother & a Friendly Stalker

In this day of age, we’re faced with the dilemma of war, terrorism and crime. Some of us walk around with pepper spray or hold our key tightly in our fist sticking out of one finger like a knife while walking to our cars, in case someone attacks us—so we can knock them out as well as stab them with our key. We’re never safe. Even at malls, we have to have eyes behind our heads in order to get to point A to point B. My sister Dawn was once followed by a man at a mall in Nanuet, NY. She walked over to her car, opened the door and got in. She began fumbling with her purse and putting her bags in the backseat, when some guy just opened up the passenger side of the car, and sat down. He put a knife to her stomach and told her to put the seat back.

“Please! Take my money, take all my credit cards—take the purse!”
“Put the seat back, now!”
“I promise I won’t say anything to the police, just take anything you want!”
She screamed.
“Now!” He demanded.

Dawn quickly opened the car door and screamed so loud, that it scared off her attacker. She wasn’t sure what he wanted. He didn’t want her to drive, he didn’t want her purse or money, and he wasn’t carjacking her… So we can only assume it was one thing.

When I walk down the street, or walk into a store, or even dining in a restaurant, I am so happy to see cameras installed. I know this is a huge controversy for some, but for me, I feel ‘safe’. I know a lot of people think it’s an infringement of their privacy. I think it’s more of a safety net. They have helicopters now watching the George Washington Bridge---three miles away! That’s huge. Their image is so clear, they can see people walking on the side of the bridge and view every detail of what they are wearing. It’s incredible. They can view any wrongdoings or the threat of someone plotting a terrorist act.

Here’s where it gets a bit too much for me. This year, I discovered something I thought was pretty neat. After utilizing it, I was scared... There is this website that you can go onto. You basically punch in any address you want, and the satellite will bring you to that person’s house or business. The view is incredible. You can see what cars are in the driveway, and if there are people standing in the parking lot. I used it to determine if my gym was busy or not. I would zoom into the gym’s parking lot, and if I saw that the parking lot was packed, I would wait an hour or so. Then I thought to myself, “Oh my God, I can actually zoom into my own house!!!”

My question is, why are “we” allowed to use this? Aren’t government officials the only ones allowed to access these things? The question is-- are we at risk for stalkers terrorizing us now? Technology has become so advanced, that it’s scary. I’m still apprehensive about walking outside of my house due to this device that’s available on the internet. Someone had mentioned this site to me, and I didn’t believe her. Then she told me, “Go check it out if you don’t believe me.” When I did…my heart sank. The scary part is, if they don’t know your exact address, they can just simply follow the road to the designated house… It’s just as if you’re in a helicopter with huge binoculars.

One of the many reasons why this scares me is because when I was around sixteen years old, I dated a guy who didn’t take the break up so well. Vinny stalked me for years. I would find him parked outside behind our garage. Sometimes I would catch him driving his car down my driveway with his lights off… I would go outside and scare the crap out of him.

“What are you doing???”
“Ughh, I had no where to smoke my weed, so I knew your road was a private one…What’s up? Do you wanna hang out?”
“Why didn’t you call me and ask instead of sitting here all shady looking…?” I asked, wondering why he was just sitting there in the dark by himself...

Idiot!

When he found out I had a ‘girlfriend’ at the age of nineteen, he was now obsessed. Vinny knew that my bedroom was on the bottom floor. My girlfriend would stay over on the weekends. One evening, while my girlfriend and I were in my bedroom, we had the window open because it was a nice evening. My girlfriend and I heard rustling of leaves. I thought it was an animal. I pulled my shade up, and I saw Vinny run like a deer! My girlfriend was a bit spooked by this. I didn’t fear Vinny though, because he really was harmless in my eyes... He was a goofy Italian kid who was just obsessed with an ex. Believe me, I just had this gut feeling that there was nothing ‘threatening’ about him. But on the news, they always say, “Oh he was such a nice guy…” Right?

I ended up facing my fear, and invited him over for drinks. He was so happy. We talked and talked, and he admitted to me that he had an interest in men. Was this to throw me off? Or was this true? He did have a flamboyant way about him. I wanted him to not stalk me, but to call me whenever he wanted, ‘as a friend’.

One evening, when my ex-girlfriend was over, we were upstairs getting ready to watch TV and then go to sleep. As we were lying down, I heard little taps on my window.

“Do you hear that?” I asked.
“Yeah.”
“Is sounds like someone is throwing rocks at the window.”
“Yeah, it does…”

I went over to my window out on my deck, and there was Vinny. Throwing rocks like a little kid who was trying to get a girl’s attention. If only I had blonde hair, I could have been Rapunzel. My girlfriend and I decided to just go downstairs and hang out with him, just to see what he wanted. No, I wasn't about to throw him a rope so he could climb up...if I did, I'd make sure an anvil was attached to it!

We had a good time, talking and catching up, but there was something eerie about his visit. He asked strange questions and seemed a little too interested in my new relationship with this girl. The questions became annoying and unsettling. This visit had to end. I explained that we had to wake up early the next morning, and that we needed to go to sleep. When we returned upstairs after Vinny left, we shut all the blinds—tightly… We also made sure we locked the doors like two OCD patients gone wild.

A few days later, he knocked on my door frantically. I was in a robe, I just got out of the shower. With the towel on my head, I asked through the door, ”Vinny, what’s up? I’m not dressed.”
“Just open up, I’ve seen you before Debbie! I need to talk to you!”
“Vinny! I’m not dressed and I need to get ready right now, can you call me later?”
“NO! Open the door!”

I opened it, let him in, and he immediately went to sit down on the couch.
“What’s up?” I said…sitting there with my towel wrapped around my head and a long red robe.
“I’m upset. I just got back from my psychiatrist, and he says that it’s unhealthy for me to speak to you, because you seem to get distant and then never call me for months upon months.”
“Vinny, you can always call me, sometimes I’m busy…doesn’t mean anything other than that..."
“Well, I just want us to be good friends like we used to and not go without speaking for months, it upsets me very much and I’m depressed.” He said, in this manic depressive tone.

Not for nothing, but this guy needs to get over this! I felt bad for him, but he’s dwelling on a relationship that happened when we were sixteen years old. We were twenty-eight years old at that time. I didn’t know how to handle this situation delicately. I decided to cut all contact with him, because it was too dramatic. His behavior was odd, and becoming more alarming. I kept seeing his car pass by my street, I kept bumping into him at my old stomping grounds—where he never hangs out…and I saw him almost everywhere I went. Then it stopped.

Fast forward to three years later, Madelene and I saw Vinny in the mall a few weeks ago. He passed by without saying a word. He didn’t even look our way. I’m not even sure if he saw us... or did he?

I’m just hoping he hasn’t discovered that new satellite website.