If you are not spending this cold January under a blanket watching Yellowstone like everyone else, maybe you are knocking out some new year resolutions and organizing your life a bit. Looking for motivation to get your household organized? I have a cautionary tale that might quickly lead you in that direction. Here is the punchline to keep you interested: you should always keep your house picked up, because you never know when the police might unexpectedly search your home. This random thought is based on a true story. Let me explain.
I have always thought the state of my surroundings, be it home or work, was a direct reflection of my mind at that given time. I'm sure you can hear a mother somewhere echoing this thought by saying, "A messy room makes a messy mind."
I once heard it said that by making your bed in the morning you are setting yourself up for a successful day. Since that questionable piece of data entered my mind, I feel that if I don’t make my bed in the morning, it is going to be a bad day. If my husband or I have a day full of a series of unfortunate events, I usually will say, “Well, did we forget to make the bed?”
A few days ago, I ran back into the house to quickly grab my son’s mask and glasses that he forgot on his bedside table, and I noticed his bed was unmade (yes, I reminded him to make it at least three times). We were already running late and I sprinted into the house and as I raced back out of his room, I realized I could not physically leave without making the darn bed, not wanting to contribute to a bad day. My thought process: if my son has a bad day, I could also very well have a bad day that ends with a phone call from the school saying, “Don’t worry, your son is okay…but we did have a little bit of a situation earlier today…in which there is video footage of him kicking the soccer ball over the roof of the school…” (that was a very specific scenario for a reason)
Rewind about twenty years in my life. This was before a morning bed making ritual. This was someone in her early 20’s. So I would say, not a fully functioning adult yet. I shared a house with a roommate who was a pretty neat person. I was not at that point. The house was kept picked up for the most part due to her influence, but when you got to my area - not so much.
When I look back and wonder why I was so haphazard with my belongings, I think it directly related to where I was in life and being unsure of where I was going. I was responsible, but so much of life was up in the air. Yes, it was exciting being young with my whole life in front of me, but also frightening to have so many options. And picking the right options - that is the clincher isn’t it?
That gives you a little background on me during the time of my story. The actual story of what happened is one of the funniest stories, to this day, to share. It is a good thing I am writing this so you don’t have to wait patiently during my laughing fits due to the complete absurdity of it all.
One day, I was at work and the next door neighbor called me, on my Nokia phone mind you. She told me that there was a man running from the scene of a robbery, on foot, near our neighborhood, and the police were trying to locate him. She said she thought she saw a man looking out the back window of my house through the blinds (my roommate’s bedroom).
She asked, “Is anyone in the house? Did you leave the back door unlocked?”
Unfortunately, we were not the best at locking our back door. We had a covered carport connected to the back of the house that we used as a patio and it FELT secure enough that sometimes we locked the door and sometimes we didn’t.
When I thought about it, the carport was a perfect place for someone to hide. Looking at the time, I realized that this also happened to be right around when my roommate gets home from work.
I quickly got off the phone with the neighbor and called my roommate while driving towards the house. She picked up our home phone (remember those things?) and I quickly yelled out - “Is anything weird in the house?!?”
She replied slowly, “Well…the blinds in my room are pushed down a bit and it smells kind of like BO in here.”
“GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! I’M PICKING YOU UP RIGHT NOW!” I screamed as I picked up speed in the car.
I will never forget the image of my roommate’s panicked face as she ran out of the house with one shoe on and the other in one of her flailing hands as I came to a screeching halt to pick her up. I should also mention we lived on one of the busiest streets in our town, so I am sure this was quite the spectacle.
After tearing down the street, explaining to my confused and frightened roommate what in the world was happening, we returned home to meet the police. Was the suspect hiding under my roommate's bed? Had he stolen our measly valuables? Did he eat all of our food?
Nope. He was nowhere to be found. Nothing was missing. Nothing was damaged. The only thing left was the lingering smell of body odor. Well, except one thing happened. In the words of one of the police officers,
“We have searched the house and everything is fine, except a bedroom upstairs has apparently been ransacked.”
At the time, I needed a minute for this to sink in. My first thought was, I can’t believe my room has been trashed! (my roommate is in the downstairs bedroom) My second thought was, good thing I read so many Nancy Drew books as a child and I am very familiar with the term ‘ransacked’. And my final thought was remembering what my room looked like that morning…
It had been a busy week. I just had not had time to get all of my laundry done and I may recall digging out a pair of dress pants from the bottom of the laundry hamper. I may have also had to spread the clothes out on the floor.
I then remembered being annoyed that I couldn't find the socks I wanted to wear and I dumped out two drawers from my dresser looking for them…who has time to clean that up and make it to work on time? My priority was being a good employee.
Were my clean clothes piled on the floor at the moment? Well, yes. Did I trip over them and scatter them across the floor that morning? Perhaps.
As the vision of my room formed in my mind, it became very clear to me that I ransacked my own room. My roommate’s boyfriend had arrived at this point in the story and I saw them exchange looks. I felt the heat rising to my face and my heart beating faster as I maintained a monotone voice and mumbled, “My room is just messy. It was not ransacked.”
Silence. Everyone just stood there for a minute not saying anything as I tried not to look anyone directly in the eye. This was my “aha moment” as Oprah would say. I vowed to never feel this humiliation ever again.
Now, did I immediately keep a clean house, of course not. But as I write this today, I can say I have come out on the other side as a rehabilitated slob. My teenage son may not appreciate this tale when I walk through his room assessing the daily damage, but I hope you do.
Will you learn anything from this? Probably not. Will you get a good laugh from this silly story? I very much hope so.
Oh wait, I do have one piece of advice. Lock your doors people! You really never know when someone may think your house is the perfect hiding placing when the police are in hot pursuit!
Happy New Year,
PS This blog post has strayed a bit from my usual tie in with storytelling. I thought everyone could use a good laugh about now. Some of the most memorable stories that people hold onto are the ones that make them laugh. Seeing the joy on people's faces as they relive the details of something funny that happened to them, sometimes decades ago, is one of my favorite things to experience in the interview process.