The safety of home is not always all that safe


There aren’t many things that genuinely frighten me.

Having come to terms with my inevitable mortality many years ago, I’m not one to sit and worry about my impending death late at night. It’s a good quality to have in that I’m more easily able to enjoy the things happening around my life at any given time, but it’s a resounding negative in that my diet and general concerns for my health don’t always take the priority they probably should.

Regardless, the things that terrify me to my core can really be counted on one hand: mice, Susan Lyons on the wrong day, missing deadline, a guy named Mini hitting a ridiculous gutshot straight on the river and something happening to my family.

That’s about it.

Now, the one concerning the welfare of my family can take on many faces. I worry about the fact that many of my family members live far away enough that I couldn’t get to them at a moment’s notice if something happened. That comes in pretty handy when it comes to unexpected visits from family members while I’m watching the Food Network in my undies, but it makes me feel very helpless when bad things are happening to them, or near them.

Of a more pressing concern, particularly since the birth of my super-wonderful-fantabulous daughter, Riley, 3-and-a-half months ago, is here at home — supposedly the place where one should feel the most safe and secure. But we all know the statement that most accidents take place at home and, indeed, I have had my share, ranging from breaking my foot two years ago because I couldn’t safely navigate the walk from my bed to the bathroom, to doing a complete face-plant walking out to my car one icy morning last week. On the bright side, the hot coffee that spilled out of my cup and on to my neck felt quite comforting before that searing pain began to...

But I digress.

My original point was that the mention of “home” is supposed to bring with it feelings of warmth and security, accidents notwithstanding. That is one of the reasons I feel a shudder rush through my body every time I open an email from one of our law enforcement agencies with the term “home invasion” in the headline.

Really, are there many more frightening thoughts than the image of a stranger bursting into the sanctity of your home? I’ve never seen one of these press releases continue to report that the invaders were the Swedish women’s beach volleyball team looking to take an overweight bald guy as their pet. No, it’s always somebody stealing property, causing bodily harm to the inhabitants or worse.

And that’s terrifying to me.

Of course, some of these home invasions go on to very different directions than the norm. There was one in Connecticut this past Monday, for example, that particularly grabbed my attention.

According to a cnn.com story, Mathew Yussman came home from work on Monday, expecting to see his mother, who was inside the house. Instead, two masked men forced their way into Yussman’s home as he opened the door, tied him and his mother up, and then strapped explosives to them, according to the police report.

Their instructions to Yussman? Go to the bank where he worked as chief financial officer, clean out the vault and return home with the cash.

Yussman reportedly called another bank executive he knew on the drive to the bank, who in turn called 911, according to a story in The Bristol Press. Police then evacuated the bank, locked down schools in two towns and shut down a main highway, before ultimately having a bomb squad remove the device from Yussman as he sat in the car.

The device was found to be not dangerous, and Yussman told police that his mother was still tied up at the house. When police responded to the home, she reportedly walked out of the house, telling police that she had freed herself after the suspects fled.

This is frightening on any number of levels, for sure. And, yes, some of these details make me wonder how legitimate this story is, i.e. the mother freeing herself, the bad guys leaving before any money came back, nobody going with Yussman to the bank so he wouldn’t alert anyone, etc.

However, if we take the story at face value, it’s certain to leave an impression. We live in a society that all-too-often leaves the “human” out of “humanity.” When some people see others as prey or personal ATMs, it is much more than a crime against the law, it is an affront to the basic tenets that allow us to feel human — to feel secure.

And that is indeed frightening.