A man tried to break into my house while I was home last week, so I chased him down. I know this sounds crazy, but it happened. I know…I know…he could’ve shot me, knifed me, choked me, etc. This is Chicago and our crime has skyrocketed. It really is a dangerous place. This past weekend, a few blocks from me, a man was gunned down behind his home at ten o’clock on a Sunday morning. That morning we were headed out for our morning walk, but thankfully I decided not to go. Honestly I was still a little rattled from my incident. So I do get it, I do understand, that what I did was extremely dangerous.
But I also know, that if I had have done nothing but simply call 9-1-1, this guy who was almost in my home, was going to come back. They always come back and no one ever seems to catch them. The new mommy in me, the me that has been burglarized before, just couldn’t bear that thought.
We had just gotten home from the store, and it was around 9:30pm on a workday. I brought the stroller etc inside, and I stayed downstairs to use the bathroom (always a smooth process since I have a high fiber diet and I take a daily probiotic : ) ). I never have to sit long enough to read or catch up on email, but I’m always thinking. As I sat thinking, I heard a pounding sound that I thought was coming from the fire escape.
So I finished my toilet time, went to wash my hands, and I noted a figure in the front doorway. The glass is frosted, but I can see enough to note that someone was bending down in the doorway. Surprised, but not yet alarmed, I walked towards the door. It was a beautiful night. The streets were filled with people walking their dogs, neighbors in their garages, and just a general nice evening of city activity. A night of hard-working Chicago residents enjoying the tail-end of a wonderful summer.
As I got closer to the front door, the deadbolt started to turn so I lunged forward, I held the deadbolt in the locked position and jammed my foot up against the door, all while attempting to stay out of the vision-line of the glass in the door. I looked through a chip in the frosting of the glass and I see a chubby Latino gentleman bent over trying to get into my house. I yelled, “What the f*ck are you doing!!!?!” as loud as I could, and yelled up the stairs, “Someone is trying to break in, call 9-1-1!!!”
I took pause and looked out again, and he was gone. I took another pause as the adrenaline and rage coursed through every vessel in my body, I walked out my door, looked down the sidewalk, and he was standing there. He had on red shorts, black and plaid hoody, and a Bulls hat. “If you f*cking come back here, I’ll kill you!!!” I yelled it as loud as I could in my I-aint-playing-with-you voice.
I went back to thoughts of all of the times I’ve told the teens and young women I’ve worked with, if something happens, “Use your voice!!! If no one knows you are in trouble, no one can help. Scream as loudly as you can!!” It’s embarrassing to scream; it takes courage and a complete release from worrying how the screams will be perceived. It’s actually one of the hardest things for young women to learn how to do. I used to practice screaming with them…”1-2-3 hellllllllllllppppp!!!! 1-2-3 agggggghhhhhhhh!!!!” Well I got the first chance to use my yelling skills last week. I think they would be proud.
After screaming to let him know I would kill him if he returned, he stood there about 80 feet away from me and just looked and did not move. Would you believe, he just stood there!?! He wasn’t scared at all, and to me, that meant he would be coming back. So without thought I flew out of my gate screaming, “He just tried to break in my house!!!!” mixed with, “you picked the wrong house todaaaayyy!!!” Then I got creative as I’ve been listening to Eminem on my runs with my trainer, “B*tch Ima Kill You!!… You don’t wanna f*ck with meeee!!!”
He took off running and I ran after him. By this time, the sweat from the rage, fear, and sprint had turned my hair into a blonde “Sho-nuff” style afro, and I’m sure I looked and sounded crazy as my inner Tianna Bartoletta and Tori Bowie came out of my body as I ran faster and faster, all while yelling louder and louder.
I had him cornered across the street in the driveway of the tall apartment building, the security guard (who oddly enough reminds me of my uncle) scuttled inside away from the chaos, and people walking their dogs ran the other way, as I flew around the corner yelling, “he tried to break into my houusssse!!” It was just me, my new-found fitness, my new Nike running shoes, my rage, and My God.
It hit me, what was I going to do when I caught him? This is crazy, he could have a gun? You should stop! He’s going to get away, just like all the other men who terrorize our neighborhood, just face it… Then it happened, a middle aged white gentleman and his girlfriend were driving into the garage and heard my yelling and saw me running. Without judging my afro, my cursing, or my discumbobulation, they hopped out to help.
The gentleman asked, “he tried to break in your home?” and took off running after the guy. I helped chase a little further and then I realized that my Knight in Shining Armor, a guy who didn’t know me from Adam, and probably hadn’t sprinted since high-school, was here to help, so I could stop running! The White Knight chased the assailant into the park and the assailant took off running by the tracks.
The police pulled up in their fancy SUVs and I instantly felt discouraged. We told them the guy ran down to the tracks, they ignored me because I looked crazy and instead got the story from my White Knight’s girlfriend. Then they took off with a slow-paced jog to find the guy. As my heart rate slowed and I caught me breath, I went back home with almost 80% certainty that they weren’t going to catch him.
But guess what!?? They actually caught the guy!!! I couldn’t believe it. I was so proud of the Chicago Police Department. A group of people I had come to have little faith in, caught the guy. All of my dangerous antics paid off. I told the police I was in awe. I thanked them for their hard work and they finally acknowledged that I did have a home in the area despite what their instincts told them about the situation, the police finally took my story, and The White Knight and I identified the bad guy. What a great feeling!!!
I came home and of course was scolded about how dangerous it was to chase a man like that. But I also came home to a place that hadn’t been violated. I came home, held my baby and told her how much I loved her and how she didn’t have to worry about a thing. I came home with the realization that I needed to be more careful: set my alarm everyday, pay closer attention, think before I act, and schedule time to go to the gun range (yep, I said it) or at least buy a cape and a golden lasso. Mama bear has to protect baby bear.
I called my trainer Kevin to thank him for working with me so that I was able to protect myself. After having my baby, I’ve been working out for health reasons and of course so that I can look good in my clothes…and it never crossed my mind that all of these dreaded training sessions were prepping me to protect myself. I was able to sprint and scream all at the same time, and I could’ve kept going! I hate working out, but I do love being in shape.
Since this happened I have received lectures from my mom, my dad, my sister, my brother, the police, co-workers, my boo, etc, etc. But if I hadn’t have chased him, they would not have caught him. I guarantee he realizes that a ‘crazy’ woman lives here and I doubt that he will be back.
Some things I learned last week: It really is important to yell. Being in shape affects all areas of your life. People want to help. And that Mama bear ain’t no joke!!