Sunday, August 9, 2015

Cross Cut Shredders

If you don't have one, you should.  I am amazed by how many people throw what they consider to be benign items, into the trash. My rule is, if it contains my name, address, phone number, SSN (of course) or any information what so ever about me, it gets shredded, and that means cross shredded, after which it goes into the recycle. Actually, I frequently shred stuff that really doesn't need to be shredded - but it gets recycled so I see no harm in it. If you have ever been stalked you will do the same. I highly recommend you do so before rather than later - not to mention the risk of identity theft, though I have to say the bank appear to be practically giving that information away, so shredding a few bills will not do a lot of good.

Here is a synopsis of one of the chapter's in my book to explain why I am not being paranoid by shredding everything. (My book is  a memoir and every word in it is true).

When I met Sam he was on the rebound.  I was aware that he was totally obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, but I convinced myself that as our relationship developed, he would forget her.  The strange thing is that he was not really terribly interested in me while we were dating.  He actually told me that I could never live up to his previous girlfriend, whom he still loved.

He was a retired Army officer, of independent means, youthful, active and great fun. A man of honor, he frequently told me.  I started to worry when he told me that he had been watching his ex-girlfriend’s house, and had taken photographs of the license plates on her visitors’ cars. Later looking them up on the Internet. It became obvious that he was spending long hours on the Internet - frequently as many as 8 hours a day, tracking down as much information as he could on the ex-girlfriend and anyone who came in contact with her.  I just hoped that he would get over it.

It was when he told me that he had been by his ex-girlfriend's house one night, and noticing that the next day was garbage day, he threw two big black plastic bags from outside her house, into his truck.  He took those bags home, emptied them out on his kitchen floor and spent the entire night sifting through them.  It really scared me to discover that he found telephone bills, from which he tracked down all the people she called, again using the Internet. He made copious notes about her lifestyle, noting what she was eating, where she was shopping, buying her gas, and many other details - all from her garbage. That day I bought a cross-shredder. And since then I have shredded everything that will go through it, before disposing of it. I was relieved that at least he did not ‘love’ me. I would not be subjected to such attention.

Needless to say, we broke up shortly after that. For a few weeks I heard nothing more of him. Then he started phoning and emailing me.  At first I chatted casually with him, but I began to realize that he was hoping to get back together, and so I avoided contact with him totally. That is when he started phoning me in the early hours of the morning, leaving drunken, abusive messages on my answering machine. Sending me abusive emails.  I continued to ignore him, thinking he would get bored. I was wrong. Things got very unpleasant. One Thursday evening, I headed off for a long weekend of seminars being held in a hotel just outside town. My friend, Kim, was staying in my house while I was gone. She had been visiting from California and was happy to look after the house for me.

I got settled in my hotel room by about 9.30 p.m., when my mobile phone rang and, without thinking, I answered it to hear Sam’s voice - I hung up immediately. At about 10.30 Kim called me to say that Sam had called the house and been abusive on the phone to her. She said that she told him that she was not surprised that I didn’t want to talk to him again. He called her back a few moments later and told her that he would report her to the local police. That was when she called me - she was nervous and frightened at that stage. I calmed her down as best I could, saying that there would be no point in him calling the local police. What could he say to them?  She had done nothing wrong after all.  As we spoke on the phone, I could hear a pounding on my front door - it was now after 11 p.m. Kim was terrified.  With me still at the other end of the phone, she answered the door.  It was the local police - and they had woken the entire neighborhood. They asked Kim if she were me, and in her terror she agreed that she was. Fortunately they didn’t ask for identification. They said that my ex-boyfriend had called them and asked them to come to my home, as he feared that I was in danger from my house guest. Kim managed to convince the police that she was fine and they left.  Immediately, Kimberly packed her bags and headed back to California.

I don’t ever remember being so angry in my entire life. I was furious and as soon I hung up the phone, I dialed Sam’s number and let him have it. I told him that I never wanted to see him again, nor speak to him again. That if he ever came near me, I would report him to the police as a stalker. I thought that would be the end of it.

A number of weeks went by and I heard no more from Sam.  Then a mutual friend told me that Sam had been watching me, and had told her that he ‘knew my every move’. I realized that I was being subjected to yet another form of abuse, and I reported him to the local police, reminding them of the false alert he had called into them previously. They made a note and told me to keep a log of any further contact.  He did contact me again, sometime after that, but luckily I had finally found a man who was honest and good, who really did love me. He warned Sam off and I have heard nothing more from him since.

As always, there is a wiki for that.