Cleaning Day

On a beautiful sunny afternoon, three years ago, my life changed.  

It was weekly cleaning day and I had three cleaning ladies polishing my home from top to bottom.  I, as was my usual habit, was in my home office working and trying to stay out of their way.  The head housekeeper, Glenda, didn’t speak much English and unfortunately I speak no Spanish so when she burst into my office with a horrified look on her face saying something about “a man” I didn’t completely understand what she was trying to tell me.  But I could tell by her demeanor that something was terribly wrong.  She was standing between me and the door to my office and when I glanced behind her I saw a large man whom I’d never seen before standing in the doorway.  The hair instantly stood up on the back of my neck.  With him standing there, he had effectively blocked any escape we had of getting out of the house.

I did my best to remain calm and politely asked him, “Can I help you?”.  He replied with “Can I help you?”.  Well that’s a strange response, I thought. I asked him who he was and why was he in my house.  He proceeded to tell me that it was his house and that I needed to “GET OUT!”.  He became very defensive and angry, balling up his fists by his sides and coming a step or two closer.  I knew at that time that he had obviously lost touch with reality and there was no way I was going to be able to convince him that it wasn’t his house.  He was becoming more agitated and agressive by the minute.  All I could think of by that time was that my newly purchased gun was in my nightstand in my bedroom and I was all the way across the house from it!  

Three weeks earlier I had decided to start taking shooting lessons and learning to defend myself.  My husband had started traveling a little more for business and even though we lived in a gated community and our home was also behind gates, I was still a little uneasy being there all by myself when he was gone.  Our home was isolated, up a long driveway at the top of a hill.  No one would hear a thing if something happened there.  I had purchased a gun about a month before and started training with a very competent tactical trainer specifically for self defense.  I had eight to ten hours of intense training under my belt by this time but without that gun, what good would it do me?

I knew I had to call 911 and get help there fast but I didn’t want to turn my back on him long enough to even dial the phone.  I pushed Glenda behind me and thought that the only way for us to get out of this alive would be to somehow get him out of the house, or at least to get him out of the doorway so we could run from him.  I started talking to him very calmly, telling him I was sorry and there must have been some kind of mistake.  I asked him to go outside with me so we could get it all straightened out and that we would leave.  I saw him relax a little and take a few steps back so I just kept talking to him and telling him I was sorry.  He finally turned and headed back down the hallway.  When he did that, I jumped for the phone and tried dialing 911 but there was no dial tone!  My first thought was that he had cut the phone lines. (It turned out that Glenda had pressed the panic button on our house alarm system which tied up the phone line.)  I scrambled for several long seconds to find my cell phone that was buried under paperwork on my desk, hoping all the time that he wouldn’t come back in to see why I wasn’t following him.  As I got 911 on the phone, I peeked around the corner and down the hall to see where he was but couldn’t see him.  I saw the other two cleaning ladies cowering in the kitchen and pointing towards the front of the house.  He was still in the house!  

I told Glenda to take the other two ladies and run into my bedroom on the other side of the house and hide in the closet.  I wasn’t sure where he was but knew he hadn’t gone that way.  I didn’t want to take the chance of sending them outside and him seeing them.  I followed close behind them while whispering to 911 and telling them the situation.  While the cleaning ladies hid in the closet, I got my gun out of my nightstand and put a round in the chamber.  I hid on the far side of the bed for cover and aimed the gun at the locked bedroom door.

The 911 operator was wonderful at keeping me calm and focused.  I told him that I could still hear the intruder in the house but wasn’t sure where he was.  I also told him that if the guy tried to come into the bedroom that I was going to shoot him.  The operator said “You do whatever you have to do to keep yourself safe.  That is your right.”  I was terrified the whole time it was happening but also felt very empowered and comforted having the gun and the knowledge to use it effectively.  The last thing I wanted to do was to have to use that gun to wound or kill someone but I was so thankful I had it.

The first responder was a 6’4” sheriff that had to run all the way up our steep driveway because he couldn’t figure out how to get our driveway gate open.  But he made it up there, came in the front door and confronted the intruder.  Immediately the intruder became even more violent when the sheriff told him to get on the floor.  The intruder started coming at the sheriff who then used his taser gun on him.  One would think that would do the trick but the bad guy just pulled the taser wires out and kept on coming, this time picking up a very large piece of decorative glass that I had on my coffee table.  The sheriff pepper sprayed him in the face but even that didn’t take him down as expected.  Just as the sheriff was pulling his gun to shoot him, the pepper spray finally choked him out and the guy went down.

This whole time, I’m locked in the bedroom doing my best to protect the other ladies who are still in the closet.  The wonderful 911 operator is telling me what’s happening outside my bedroom door as several other police cars arrive.  Once the officer had the guy cuffed, the 911 operator told me I could put my gun away and come out.  I was never so relieved!

The intruder had made it past two security gates and in into my home in the middle of the afternoon.  My front door was unlocked because the cleaning ladies were going in and out.  I had become complacent thinking that something like that could never happen to me.  But even two security gates didn’t stop someone who wanted to come in.  Thankfully no one was hurt or killed.  But it left me scared to be alone for several months.

I’ve learned a lot from that incident.  All during the training with my firearms instructor, he had told me that I had to be sure I could take a life if needed in order to protect myself, family or friends.  Otherwise a gun would be useless to me.  I wondered all during my training whether or not I could actually do it.  Well, I learned I could!  I was more than prepared to shoot the intruder if he came in that room.  I avoided it the best I could by running and hiding, but I was in the mindset of “if I have to, I will”.

I am no longer complacent.  I keep my doors locked all the time now.  I have continued my training and now have my CCW permit and several other guns.  I’m an advocate for women’s self defense and believe all women should be trained in the safe and proper use of handguns for self defense.  That’s why I decided to become a TWAW chapter leader and enjoy so much the sense of self empowerment these women feel after learning to use a gun.   I have gone on to become an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor, a Refuse to be a Victim Instructor, and a NRA Certified Range Safety Officer.  And that’s just the beginning for me!