Events from the last couple of days form a good illustration of some of the basic principles of the harassment that goes on around here all the time.
Late yesterday as I was finishing my daily walk with my dog [Principle #1: Use known daily schedules; see "Right On Time: below], I noticed a large rock sitting in the street in front of our property. I had not noticed this rock when I left on my walk and did not see any obvious signs of where it had fallen from, but the weather was stormy and the rock was at the base of a steep, rocky slope, so it's possible that the wind and rain had loosened it [Principle #2: Use the weather to your advantage].
Although this rock was over to one side of the street, it was still on the driving surface and was clearly a road hazard, especially as it was starting to get dark. It was too big and heavy for me to move by myself, so I went inside and immediately phoned the law enforcement dispatch number and told the dispatcher I wasn't sure where to call because it was a Saturday evening. She said there was an after-hours street crew number, which she gave me. Although I had clearly identified both myself and my address at the start of my call, this dispatcher also went through an elaborate process of repeatedly asking me my name, address, and phone number, which I dealt with patiently [Principle #3: Make a game out of pretending not to know who I am--I can assure you she wouldn't be working there if she didn't know me!). I then called the number she'd given me, reported the road hazard, and went through the same process of having to repeatedly identify myself [reread Principle #3].
About 15 minutes later, a city police officer rang my front doorbell and asked if I'd called the police [Principle #4: Involve local law enforcement as much as possible]. Without opening the door, I called to him that I'd reported a large rock in the road out front and had already phoned the street crew about removing it. The officer claimed he couldn't hear me through the door, which I knew wasn't true because my children and I have been talking with people through the door for years [Principle #5: Try to talk your way inside]. Instead of opening the door, I went and got my coat and my house key, went out the back door, locked it behind me, and went around to the front to talk with the officer outside.
The officer again asked me if I'd called the police [Principle #5: Pretend you are clueless]. I repeated what I'd told him through the door, and I explained that with darkness falling and kids on spring break speeding up and down the road, I believed the rock needed to be moved as quickly as possible because it was dangerous. The officer said he'd already seen a rock in the road and rolled it up onto the curb so it was out of the street, and I thanked him and suggested the city still come and remove it (tire tracks clearly show how often people drive up over the curb in that area). He then asked me where the rock by my driveway was that I'd called about. I told him I'd never mentioned my driveway in either of my calls and had in fact clearly stated that the rock was in the street just to the east of our house [see Principle #5 again]. He repeated that he'd moved the rock onto the curb, and I repeated my thanks for his clearing the hazard. Then he left.
This morning, the last morning of spring break when I could still sleep late [Principle #6: Always interfere with sleep whenever possible--how do they always know when we're asleep??], I was awakened by a call on my cell phone. The caller identified herself as a dispatcher with local law enforcement [see Principle #4], and although she never gave her name, I immediately recognized her from her distinctive voice as a woman I know well who not only works as a dispatcher but also does various jobs for my former mother-in-law [Principle #7: Involve people very close to my ex-husband and his family as much as possible]. (This woman and her immediate family members are part of a group of close associates of my ex-husband's family that my children and I have run into many times under extremely suspicious circumstances in San Antonio. This woman's husband makes long trips by truck all over the U.S.) The woman said she was calling to see if I had a miniature horse that had gotten loose [Principle #8: Involve loose livestock and/or dogs as much as possible]. I told her we didn't own any miniature horses, a fact I knew she was fully aware of in our small town [see Principle #5]. She said "Okay" and hung up before I could ask her how she'd gotten my cell phone number, since I'd called the dispatcher and city the previous evening from my land line and had only given both the dispatcher and the street crew my land line number [Principle #9: Make stupid, careless mistakes that show how unafraid you are of facing any possible consequences of your actions]. Finally, I have heard repeated and persistent rumors of a Principle #10 over the years: Record the harassment and post it somewhere online so all the "insiders" can laugh about it. Also, many (and perhaps all?) of these same principles can be applied to many of the suspicious deaths around here; see numerous previous discussions elsewhere on this blog.
One more important note related to harassment--for some reason, a former city judge has suddenly taken to walking by our house repeatedly again (she seems to do this periodically). This is the same attorney and former city judge who has headed hospital boards, whose husband is in local construction, and whose father has recently purchased a multi-story medical office building from the hospital that happens to be located two blocks down the street from our house.