that’s right. being a stay at home mom, having the blinds constantly flung open to get my daily dose of vitamin d and ward off the seasonal affective disorder, i see all. i have a neighbor who walks up to the local greasy spoon for breakfast, and walks back every afternoon. “there goes gloria” i say to ruth, with her usual old lady plastic head bonnet and little wire cart. “there goes the garbage truck, taking our trash to a landfill” i tell her. “there goes joe riding his bike down the street”. i don’t consider myself a nosy person. i consider myself a bored person. there’s a difference. but the difference is hard to tell after a while.
like the other day, when ruth and i went out to kroger. i noticed a man sitting in a running car on the corner of my block. now, this happens from time to time. people often turn off of greenfield onto our street if they are lost or having car trouble. they often use my driveway to turn around in. but this person didn’t look lost. and his car didn’t look broken. in fact, it looked downright fancy. too fancy for my neighborhood. i noted him and moved on. however, when i came back an hour later and he was still sitting there in the same spot, i started get my feathers ruffled. so i used my best high school glare (yes, i still remember how to wield a good bitchy glare) and then proceeded to make it really obvious that i was standing watching him out my window. he didn’t budge. so i did what any slightly suspicious loyal dearbornite would do and i called the police. in this city, we are not shy about calling on our boys and girls in blue and often do so for things as mundane as our trash not getting picked up on time or the neighbor’s grass looking at us the wrong way.
that’s when i saw my neighbor, kentucky joe, we call him, walk past the car feigning a visit to another neighbor of ours that we both knew wasn’t home. ah, yes, joe and i have a lot in common. we are both home all day, rubber neckers, or as i like to think of us, the unofficial neighborhood watch. gossipers. “hold on,” i said to the officer on the line. then i stuck my head out the door and yelled to joe who came over looking conspiratory as fuck. “i got the license plate,” he said. of course he did. i gave the police the make and model of the car, the plate number and that was that. joe and i looked at each other like, “we got him” and both went back to our posts. it wasn’t always that i enjoyed joe’s eagle-like watchman-ship over everything going on on our block. especially the night i got so pissed at greg i tossed at least a dozen heavy science books out onto our front stoop or the few times i had a row with my mother in the front yard. but, lately, joe and i are on the same page. sure, he’s got dirt on me. but i’ve got dirt on him and i know every color of tank top he owns and a few other gems. we’re squared.
well, the dearborn police are good, but that doesn’t mean that they’re willing to waste city money keeping somebody positioned on a block all day waiting for a “suspicious” looking vehicle to show up. they drove by twice, but never seemed to catch up with the perp, who continually drove up and down our street the rest of the day, parking for a few minutes, leaving, coming back. i started to feel my blood boil, being pregnant and raising my daughter on this street, i wasn’t about to be ok with some stranger keeping tabs on when people were coming and going and who was who in which houses. no matter how fancy his car.
the next morning, i got up only to see the same car, the same man on the same cell phone sitting out on the street again. that’s when i felt my rage boil over. i immediately called the police again and this time, they actually encountered him, pulled up along side of him and talked to him for a few minutes, before pulling away. but then, he just sat there. he didn’t leave. the phone rang and i answered it without looking, “hello, joe.” we talked for a minute, speculated about who this person was and why he was here and why he wasn’t leaving. i wondered if i would have to spend the remainder of the day calling on him as i had the day before. we hung up.
i went about my morning as usual with ruth, getting ready to go to the local library program for tots. as i pulled out of my drive, i happened to see the car driving further down the street and was overcome with sudden indignation and outrage. so, instead of pulling out towards greenfield, i pulled out the other way and gunned it down the street. that’s right. james bond shit right here. i finally caught up with him at a red light and i pulled up next to him and signaled for him to roll his window down. “can i help you?” i said in my most venomous tone, “i live on this street and i’ve seen you driving around for a day and a half. who are you?” ruth looked on from her car seat. what this person thought of my large belly restrained by the seat belt and toddler in the back seat, i dunno. “i’m a private detective,” he said a little awkwardly, “i live in grosse pointe. it’s my job. the police know i’m here. i’m watching someone on your block. if you had come up to me at any time, i would’ve told you that.” silence. well. “oh,” i said, “ok. have a nice day.” then i drove off, feeling a bit silly.
yet, somehow, at the same time i felt empowered. was it stupid of me to chase down a strange man in my car? yes. even stupider to roll down my window and talk to him. but empowered is what i felt. i’m not going to let any suspicious or fishy behavior happen on my block. not when i’m raising my daughter here, no. i called joe and gave him my full report, finally feeling like i could let the issue rest in my mind, and drove to our library program.
lesson learned? don’t fuck with me. i’m a stay at home mom. i see your ass. i’m watching you.