*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a friend who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.*
My friend Regina is one of the nicest ladies you’ll ever meet, but you might not ever be able to figure that out about her, because she is also one of the most shy.
A pretty wallflower who never likes to go to parties and if she’s dragged there she won’t speak. A fierce advocate for her children that does all her mama-bearing through email because she can’t face school administrators.
Being the nice person she is, she also has a very big problem with telling people “NO.” She is constantly called upon by friends and relatives to do them favors. Drive them to doctor’s appointments, pick them up from airports, go grocery shopping for them when they are ill, those sorts of things. Things that are really sort of a big deal and can put a person’s day out, but Regina will still drop everything to help a friend in need, and people know it.
One of the people who took regular advantage of Regina’s kindness was her neighbor, Don.
Don lived alone in the big house next door, widowed a few years ago when his wife died of cancer, and he’d been a very lonely man since. Regina often told me how bad she felt for Don, being all alone in such a big house with no one to keep him company most of the days and it must be so hard not having someone to talk to, to have a companion in life.
Well, one day Regina was out gardening and Don happened to walk by her fence and started chatting with her - and he didn’t stop. As awkward as it made her feel, Regina invited him in for the first time for a cold glass of lemonade and opened the door to years of intrusions.
Don took that one visit as in invitation to keep coming. First it was every few days, and only when he spotted Regina outside in her yard. He would come over, strike up a conversation, and then eventually drop a line about how he was hungry or thirsty and it would compel Regina to give him sustenance.
This escalated, and Don took to knocking on her door whenever he wanted company, and she had a hard time telling him not to come in as she was a stay at home mom to two teens and just was home all day alone anyway. This went on for some months, but then things got worse.
Don started taking it upon himself to just enter Regina’s house whenever he felt like it. He would do that thing where you knock and enter the door simultaneously, not giving anyone a chance to say no or keep you out. Of course Regina thought this was rude but she was too shy and meek to raise a fuss and upset Don about it.
That was until the day Don opened Regina’s refrigerator to find it almost empty. No pitcher of lemonade. No cold cuts for sandwiches. No sweet oranges for dessert.
“Hey, you holding out on me?” Don turned to her and asked with more than a little bit of attitude. “Is this your way of telling me you don’t want me coming over for lunch anymore?”
“No, Don, this is my way of telling you we’re going on vacation in a few days and I didn’t want my fridge full of food that will go bad. But since you’re asking, I really would appreciate a phone call before you decide to come over in the future.” When Regina told me she’d said that to him I was so proud of her, it may have been one of the bravest things she’s ever done, standing up for herself.
What would you have done to the Don in your life?
Hi, I hope you enjoyed this story! I am a freelance writing single mom trying to create a better life for me and my daughter through words. If you enjoyed this, please consider leaving a small donation: https://ko-fi.com/maryduncan