Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, they also come in all job types.Years ago before starting on this journey of sharing stories, I was a nurse working some three hours from home. I’d go to a hotel, check in, rush to the prison where I’d do a 12 hour shift, drive an hour and a half back to the hotel, sleep a few hours, and do it again. I’d work 36 of the 72 hour span of time from Friday evening to Monday morning.
I made really good money there, but as someone that had always lived paycheck to paycheck I pretty much still had that mentality. Get paid, pay all the bills do that cycle, then get groceries whatever was left went to gas and frivolities. I didn’t think to keep a ‘stash’ in my car,
These are important things to know, because I had reconnected with the original boyfriend. The first date, the one that got away, the one that scarred me beyond recognition for his harshly worded sixteen year old rantings. It took a long time I could trust any guy again, much less before I was willing to talk to him.
We flash forward to my being a nurse at around the age of 29 or 30. I was overweight and not very ok with how I looked. I had very little self confidence (I have both of those problems still). So when he reached out through the internet I latched onto a friendship. I lived in a town where I knew shockingly few people, and I worked in a town on the other side of the state at a prison, where I wanted to know even less.
Our reunited friendship would last two weeks. The first week after we spent it together, I took him home, and left him at his mother’s. (He’d just gotten back from the army, and was having to relearn how to be a non military person). I did my hours that weekend, and he called on my way home, I took a slight detour and picked him up. Another week we would spend together.
We didn’t kiss, I thought I was helping him to look for a job in the area, he thought he had a prime idiot for the taking. By the time I had to go back to work on Friday he’d pretty much integrated himself into my life.
He dislocated his jaw on the Thursday before I had to rush back to work. We went to three hospitals before he gave up, he needed it put back in place but because he didn’t have insurance (now I realize he likely had it but refused to use it, or his army story was bogus but I digress) so the hospitals were very short sighted. One wanted to give him 50mg of dipenhydramine. That’s benadryl, and while it is sometimes used a low grade muscle relaxer, it was more of a ‘here we’ll give you a placebo shot and you’ll go away.”
Unfortunately he was smart enough to ask a question they had to answer. “What’s that in laymen’s terms?” When he was told Benadryl he left AMA. A tank of gas later, and we are headed back to my apartment, and I’m filling my tank up after traversing most of the Arkansas landscape.
Looking back I can see I was much more than just helping him out, I was going that one step further and allowing myself to be taken in. And that’s where we get to the real hero of the story. This friend went with me to work that weekend. I’d go to work, and he’d stay at the hotel with my laptop, the tv, the air, and the pool. He’d chill out all weekend, eating the food I’d bought for the weekend in the room, and then we’d hang out for a few hours before I passed out.
This happened Saturday morning, Saturday night, and Sunday Morning. I drive back from work, and I realized I’m precariously low on gasoline. I pull into the station and look in my wallet, the damn tie dyed card is missing. I have a total of 3 dollars in my wallet, so all 3 goes into the tank, it was less than a gallon of gas that day. As I get back to my hotel room I search all over for the card, but the sour feeling that settled when I had 3 dollars grew worse, when I realized my ‘friend’ was no where to be seen.
I take a very deep breath, and I log into my laptop to check the online balance. My worst fears were answered I was not only completely wiped at the bank, I was overdrawn by nearly 200 dollars, and that was before the late fees started rolling in.
It was still too early to call the bank, I was stuck at the hotel, but my check out time was 10am. I had no way to get gasoline to get home and I was looking at the change I pulled out from under the seats in my car. (he’d also taken every piece of food from my room).
I’d worked 12 hours the night before, and now I was trying to figure out how I was going to get home much less handle all the money he’d stolen from me. I went to the front desk, eyes still puffy from crying, tears threatening to fall if I so much as spoke. I went to the restaurant where Alice* was working as a server that day. She took one look at my face, Brad* the chef came out of the kitchen and his six foot something frame towered over me, he hugged me tight and said “Donchyou worry a thing, I got you.” And true to his words, he fed me like I’d never need to eat again.
Then Brianne* came around from the front desk sat down with me and put her arm around my shoulder, the whole store came boiling up. She listened intently and the phone rang at the desk, so when she ran to get it Alice sat with me again.
These are two women I’d talked to briefly each week, and we’d become friendly but I am not sure at that moment we were even facebook friends. While at the desk Brianne called her police officer husband so he could take my statement, and before he left they gave me 20 dollars to get me home, offering more if I needed it.
They have four kids at home, maybe five. They aren’t hurting for money most days, because they do numerous jobs, and are raising their kids the right way. But they are not loaded. 20 bucks likely meant an extra tank of gas, or extra milk.
I gave my story to Brianne’s husband, and then I went back to my room to call the bank. They were wonderful and helped me to get my thoughts in order. I had to get to north east arkansas and file another police report with my hometown (and the town the card was issued from) and I had to press charges. I’d already started that with the first police station.
It took a few days but I got back all the money he stole, I pressed charges and as far as I was concerned all was right with the world. It will never be the same as it was.. I will never be the same. I find it hard to trust most men, but I did not lose my trust in people, even though a person is who hurt me. Four very great individuals help keep me together on a completely horrible day.