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Friday, July 19, 2024
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Her Personal Lifeline, 911

Dear Source:
Oh, yes, I have been amongst those who have had a legitimate gripe with the way "justice" has been meted out through our inept system administered by the VI Dept. of Justice. And, yes, I have done my share of criticizing the police who just can't seem to get it right, who often are confrontational and somewhat unreasonable…those whose character and apparent under the table dealings have been publicized in our paper and even in national news. Those in blue (or black) who are mistrusted by many on our islands and who sometimes, through fact and well-founded fable, often deserve it. Those whose ranks are filled with some very unfriendly characters. But, credit should go where credit's due.
Three nights ago, I had occasion to dial 911, for the first time in my life. I had been awakened at 0320 (AM) by the sound of very deliberate footsteps in the dry sticks and leaves outside my sleeping area. I heard them due to the porch-bound dog barking her head off upstairs. When I heard them, I heard first two….then I waited for two more to make a row of four, friendly dog-like footsteps to let me go back to sleep. But, no, it was not to be. Only two, then two more, then two more very slow, human-style crunchy footsteps drawing nearer and nearer to my sleeping area. And I was alone, this one night, just me. I crept out of bed in the dark and located my cell phone. I had to cup it so the dial light wouldn't alert my unwelcome potential visitor that someone was inside there, and dialed…911.
The operator answered…I was speaking very low and with effort. She asked me all sorts of questions…hardest one to answer was "What is your address?". Well, hmmm, we who live on dese eyelands seldom have a real address, right? I mean how many really know their address?….so I tried to direct her. Angry at my mouth being dried up with fear making it hard to speak I said…"You go up the hill over blah blah blah…", and she said, "I don't know the area." Hmmm, again. Crunching still going on. Finally I remembered that some time back some bureau or other needed a "physical address". I fumbled in the dark for my wallet and found the scrap of paper midst all the rest I had put there many months ago. "Have you already dispatched someone?" I asked, hopefully in a small voice. She said, "Yes, do not go outside (she didn't have to warn me about that)…just wait for the officer." Filling the time, I apologized for not knowing where I live…I felt like a small child who had lost their name tag on an airline flight or at the first day of camp. She said, "Don't worry…it's all right..I'll stay on the line until he shows up." My personal lifeline….The crunching had stopped a few minutes ago leading me to speculate that whoever it was was about to make some sort of move.
From the start to the time the office arrived, probably no more than 8 minutes elapsed! Officer Richardson, a perfect gentleman, was now the object of the dog's barking. He stood at the outer door (I had been meaning to get that lock fixed!). I opened it tentatively and there he was, mercifully not pointing his gun at what he might have thought was the intruder he had been told about. Which would have been little ol' dried mouth jelly-kneed me. He looked high and low and could find no evidence of my would-be visitor. In the gloom of what was about to be a long night, he did find the carcass of a large white goose on the steps below my apartment. I had no idea that the dog had put it there when I had removed it from her jaws earlier that day and threw it in the bushes, forgotten about. He turned and asked "Have you seen this???" The look on his face indicated he had likely come upon evidence of some arcane ritual surrounding the former presence of my intruder. I didn't correct him, or even try to. Was just too much to get into. I just wanted him to keep checking the bushes. (Also I had started to laugh at the thought…inappropriate for the circumstances.)
Morals of this story:
· Know your address!
· Fix all the locks you've been meaning to fix.
· Trust 911. They did a wonderful job for me.
· Form a neighborhood watch group. Get an air horn and make sure everyone around you has one as well (Thanks to Betsy at Sea Chest!)
Signed, Grateful Receiver of Excellent Service from 911

M.R.
St. Thomas

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