Tuesday, November 6, 2007

On skunks, bus rides to jail, and the possibility of new stalker


Today was one of those days (though, granted, it ended well) rife with not major catastrophes, but rather a series of minor adversities that slowly gnawed at me.

It all began at around 1am this morning. I found myself awoken for an especially odd reason- due to an overwhelming odor.

Apparently, as had already happened once in the past few months, a skunk had taken issue with the side of my house, and my bedroom became swamped with a smell that became impossible to ignore. I tried to block it out, roll over, pull the covers over my head... but it kept on seeping inwards, and my nose actually began to hurt from the pungeance of the odor. So I dragged my comforter and pillow to the living room, doused the perimeters with Febreeze, and curled up on the sofa, saying goodbye to my full night's sleep before my first solo shift at my new job.

The second annoyance began when I looked through the booking schedule the next day at work. In one of my first training days, I had been told that they would try not to schedule any assessments for me at the correctional facility, as it is difficult to shuttle back and forth between there and the clinic when one doesn't have a car (and the other two people with my job do have one). What do I see for my second shift? An assessment at the correctional facility. So now I get to commute an hour to work, do an assessment, score and document the results, use my lunch hour taking a bus to the prison (where, by the way, I have no idea how to get around, as I only went there once, and was told before then that I wouldn't be working there anyways- I'm just gonna show up with my ID cards, some testing material and hope for the best. What can go wrong in that situation?), do an assessment, take the bus back to the clinic, score and document the results, then commute for an hour home. Sounds peachy, don't it?
I just wish they could have kept up the charade of taking my situation into consideration a little further than my second shift.

The third annoyance needs a little background information...

When I was around 12 or 13, I went on a bit of a penpal kick (just 'coz I'm dope like that), and spent a lot of time writing to people living in different countries. Some I stayed in contact with for many years- in fact, one of my old penpals is on my Facebook. Some never went much beyond a few letters. This was the case for a boy from Iran. We maybe wrote five letters each back and forth when I was around 12 years old, then it drifted off. Nothing particularly memorable or that I had given much thought in the more than a decade that had passed since then.

Until I received an email from him today. Normally, this may be a bit of a pleasant surprise-- but the content of the email left me wondering a little.
He began by saying that he had planned to call me several times, but didn't know if I still lived in the same small town (which he remembered the name of!), and had googled me 2 or 3 years ago, but not been able able to find me.
He also spoke of how he'd been inspired to find me after his mother had reconnected with an old friend (as the Duke called it, this was the normalizing part of the email), and noted, amongst other things, that his mother had retired from her job as a psychologist the same month he believed I had started my PhD in the field (which was wrong... but still odd that he thought he could peg the month).
He then said that he still had the picture I had sent him of me (!!!!) and that I looked the same, except I had gotten "a little bit chubby" (with a conspicuous wink added on).

... which, I must say, pissed me off a fair amount. Um, yes I gained weight since I was 12... it's called PUBERTY. I still fit into a size small. And the photo I think he saw (from my lab's webpage) is only from a little below the shoulders up, so there's hardly any opportunity for a display of any of my potential jiggly bits. And, no, I don't have a double chin.

He concluded by saying that he still had a lot to say, and signed off with "still your friend".

I'm not sure if it may just be a language barrier, but this email totally creeped me out. It's one think to send an email saying "Oh, hi, I just randomly googled you and found your email address... remember me?". It's another to tell me that you have been thinking about contacting me for years, have searched for me before, still have my photo, still obviously keep my letters (how else would he remember the random small Canadian town I live in), and have so much to talk to me about. We wrote silly letters to each other when we were 12 about our favourite movies and animals! This is not the type of thing to hold tight onto throughout your adult life.

So, what do I do? Is the stalker potential great enough for me to just hit delete, or am I jumping to conclusions from a friendly email from someone who doesn't speak English enough to realize the nuances of his email?


distracted spunk said...

Eep. Boo to the skunk and prison annoyances. However. For the stalker. He seems to have a pretty good grasp on English - and I think we all have childhood friends that we wonder about and still think about. There may be some language barriers and nuances that he has to still overcome, but I would say give him one more chance. Just be friendly and straightforward in your e-mail response back. Who knows. It's kind of cool to say you have a friend in Iran. Look at it as an insider's perspective on what's going on in the Middle East.

Miriam said...

I've never even seen a skunk, how funny that this one is taking offense to your siding :)

And I just wouldn't respond. That is way too creepy.


Lisa said...

I have to say I've never smelled a skunk in my life. This post made me grateful.

About the ex-penpal, maybe he thought he was being sweet? Like DS, I have to say he seems to have a pretty good grasp of the English language. If anything, this is a cultural thing. Maybe in Iran, this isn't as creepy? :)

singleton said...

arrrrrgggh, Skunks! Oh No!
But I'd give the little stalker another chance, while you had a penpals, maybe you were his one and only penpal and that's why he's treasured your correspondences all these years...

Best of luck on the new job! And sleep, you're gonna need it!

benjibopper said...

i guess, re the penpal, it's a question of what you have to gain and what you have to lose. my gut feeling is, if the email made you uncomfortable, delete it.

your bus trip to the prison reminds me of a danny michel song, which was apparently inspired by a busload of guys on the way to kingston pen:

"When I get out I'm heading straight for you,
I've got some things I've been dying to do.
Show me the house where you were born,
and I'll kiss your face until my lips are worn.
And we'll sleep until the sun turns blue,
there's just 13 days to you.
I'm gonna grow my hair, I'm gonna run a bath.
I wanna just sit here and watch you laugh.
I'm gonna wash the car, I'm gonna cut the grass."

Crashdummie said...

Omg, I would definitly get totally freaked out of I got an e-mail like that from a 5 letter penpal over 10 years ago.

So funny, cuz just today i updated my status on face book to read ".. is amazed on how many ppl are living out their stalker dream on facebook - just cuz I'm paranoid doesnt mean I'm not being followed"


Ant said...

Possibly one of my more inflammatory statements committed to t'internet but two things strike me about that story: first a complete lack of tact in relating to women, which I've generally observed from men coming out of Middle-Eastern countries.

And second - I've had experiences like this where "an old friend" (who is nothing of the sort from my point of view) tries to leverage contacts in the western world because he wants something (at least two occasions trying to get me to sponsor a British visa for them). It pisses me off royally because they try and use all this bonhomie crap, usually very ill-judged and duplicitous, before cutting to the chase...

Your judgement is perfectly sound, so if alarm bells are ringing, I'd listen to them and delete the email...

Oh, and what's with everyone telling you your chubby? You must have been some skinny waif when younger, cos you looked perfectly proportioned when I saw you! :-)

captain corky said...

I just wonder if he sleeps with your letters and picture under his pillow. I doubt that he's dangerous, but it might not hurt to be careful.

brookem said...

oh, wicked sucks about the skunk! is it better now? and the whole rest of the day... man. i hate those days that get off to a start like that!

hmm... as far as the penpal thing- i guess i'd wonder... do you have any interest in starting up a "friendship" with him again? i guess either way i would write back, just to let him know you got his email (i guess?)..and go from there. i would have been put off by the weight comment too, but it sounds like it was probably just a language barrier thing. if youre interested in being buddies again, id write back and shoot the shit. otherwise, id write back something short and sweet and kind of try and end it there.

Sheila said...

P.U.! Perhaps since one skunk has left his mark on your house, the rest feel they need to join in.

The pen pal would also have me feeling creeped out. I had pen pals when I was younger but certainly didn't keep any letters. I can remember any of their names. Very creepy.

rachel elizabeth said...

god, that sucks. what a day. i'd be a little offended / skeeved that some random iranian was googling me & calling me chubby! i definitely don't think i'd be writing back. creepy. <3

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

Difficult to judge.

He's in Iran, so maybe you needn't worry too much. But then again, maybe he ISN'T any more.

I don't know. It's a close call. He seems right on the border.

Airam said...

Just delete it if it makes you uncomfortable. Actually don't delete it. Keep it for evidence if ever you need it.

Mrs4444 said...

Like Oprah says, "When people tell you who they are" (through their actions), "believe them." He may not be a stalker, but a grown man who still treasures his penpal memories enough to keep tangible momentos (and act on them by emailing you) is really missing something in his life. Do you want to be the one to fill that void? OR....he could be your destiny!! Ever think of moving to move to Iran?

Lord Chimmy said...

Pen pals are something best left in the past. This guy can find lots of new pals on the internet to fill the void you left for him.

Eve said...

I say creepy, but I tend to expect the worst from people.

I wrote this article online and got tons of emails from people. One guy from Pakistan sent me a faux question, but really harbored fantasies of slutty Western women, I think. He just wanted an illicit email affair, which I was totally not interested in (I'm giving the short version.)

I think men in such closed societies are really messed up and don't know how to deal with women. He sounds like a weird and lonely -- and, yes, creepy -- guy. He's in Iran, yes, but so what? Giving false hope to someone like that just can't be good.

Beth said...

Skunk smell is horrific. (Experience with the dog.) Surely there's some kind of "gift" you can leave for your visitor at the side of the house that will put him off.

The old pen pal? Go with your instincts. If you feel "funny" about him, don't reply. (And ask yourself, do you really want to resume correspondence even if he's legit?)

Yoda said...

Hmmm, are you sure its a skunk and not just something you and Duke ate last night?


I never really got the hang of pen-pals ... though I have some email pals, but they are fellow bloggers whom I know before I start writing them. I say its creepy and just let him be.

QueenBee said...

Eh. I don't know. I think that's incredibly creepy, but He freaking called you chubby! YOU ARE NOT CHUBBY. Even in comparison to a 12 year old, gah. Anyway, I think that alone should warrant a deletion. But that may not mean he'll never email again.

Abbey said...

My quick answer was planned to be: delete.

Then, Crushed freaked me out a bit. If Pen Pal can find your email address online as well as other personal information (e.g., PHD stuff) there's no telling if he might show up at your door.

My long answer: Delete and just pretend like it went into your Spam box like it should have in the first place.

Michelle said...

Skunk- nastiness.

And I agree about not responding. Uber creepy. Maybe he'll take a hint.

eric1313 said...

I think I quote somebody above when I say boo on the skunk tip.

It sounds like he was trying to explain away a lazy, if perhaps shy desire for friendship over the years. You know what I mean? If you think about life, and how difficult things are, then magnify them to account for growing up in Iran, it becomes understandable. Beside, what are the chances that he was thinking about you every day for ten years? Maybe good, I dopn't know. But I think it sounds like an exageration on his part, of trying to compensate for wanting to write you but not doing so--he wants his words to speak louder than his actions. He has no idea that that concept is your stock in trade. I think the nuances that he is missing are all of the cultural variety. God knows that there are a lot of males in our own culture who also lack understanding of subtleties in this department.

Keep it at pen pals, write him back. And maybe later explain to him that his intensity was a little strong. He may need sensitivity counseling.

cdp said...

Scunk? Dude. That sucks a lot. I'm sorry pookie.

Also, the chubby part? Fuck that. Whatever.

As we all know I am not taking well to anything to do with cyber stalking lately. Sorry, my input is probably pretty biased here.

love you though!

All Mod Cons said...

Waaaaaay too creepy! Delete delete delete!!

libby said...

hate. skunks! blergh!!!

and uhhh. yeah def a nay-nay on responding to creepo email. its been YEARS! you guys aren't even the same people anymore and for him to make such opinionated remarks after so long? not cool.

Princess Pointful said...

To someone's whose comment I deleted... I always appreciate new readers, and I am sure you are acting in what you feel is my best interest. However, I deleted your comment because I'd rather not get involved in any of the he said/she said drama between bloggers.
I know relationships go sour, and I know there are two sides to every story. As such, I am in no side to judge either party, and I really don't want to contribute any further to the animosity between them.
I hope you can understand :)

Mean Rachel said...

God damn it I miss the days of friendship books and fat mail.

nebraska girl said...

Here are some skunk tips for you:

Place mothball-filled socks and/or sprinkle cayenne pepper around your yard to discourage digging by skunks.

Blow-up or plastic great horned owls may be strategically placed and periodically moved to deter skunks.