A man walked into my backyard today. Now my backyard is a fair way from the street and is fully fenced, so there was no reason for him to be there. We just happened to have the gate open because we’d had the truck in back doing various farmstead chores. We had someone visiting, a lady who had brought her daughter and grandkids to see the rabbits and the chickens. The daughter was thinking about raising small animals and wanted to see our setup.
The son decided to play tour guide (he really doesn’t want to write his essay!), so they went back there and he was showing them around. Because of the layout of the house I can’t see the front yard or the street from where I am. I can see the driveway and part of the backyard, and I happened to be walking by the window as this strange man skulked into our backyard.
My first move was to holler to my husband that there was a strange man in the yard. My second thought was to head for the gun. It probably would have been my first thought if the husband hadn’t been home. Our gun is only an air pistol, but it looks like a real pistol, and while it would offer no real security, the intruder would not know that. I did not get it, but the thought was there. This is the first time I’ve had this thought, and this from someone who grew up with guns in the house. All I knew was that someone was trespassing on our land without permission and was back with the children and animals. I figured the husband could handle it, but I had my cell phone in my hand ready to call 911.
It turned out just to be someone canvassing the neighborhood with political flyers. Instead of coming to the front door and ringing the doorbell, which is acceptable behavior for a stranger, he heard the noise from the yard and simply followed it. He wanted to talk about the politicians he was supporting, but he was promptly shown off the property. I said he had no right coming into our backyard like that, that it was creepy and scary, and no, I was not going to speak with him. I did take his flyer so I could email the folks on it and let them know what one of their canvassers had done.
The man didn’t seem to understand what was so wrong with what he had done. He was a young college age kid, who was probably all passionate about his first campaign, but with no common sense. He probably thought that since he thought he was harmless, that made him seem harmless, but it didn’t. Hopefully he won’t make that mistake again, but since he didn’t get it, he probably will.
Am I overreacting? Maybe. It’s hard to say. It’s not like I was shooting first and asking questions later. I didn’t even get the gun. I sure thought about it though. I’m coming from a place where just a few short years ago, when we were living out at the old house in the mountains, my daughter’s friend, a girl I had watched grow up, was murdered just a few doors down from us in her own home by a man we all thought was harmless, and I learned to trust people less. And just this summer the house next door to us was broken into in broad daylight (though neighborhood watch had spotted them and called the cops).
In these last few years the world has not become a safer place. Strangers do not need to be wandering to the back of anyone’s home, for their own safety as well as the safety of the homeowner. There is no benefit of the doubt anymore. Not from me. I will be glad when we move and can get dogs and put up signs on the parts of the farm no one needs to access but us. It’s just another layer of protection that might have prevented this from happening in the first place.