Never Getting A Break, Trouble Just Keeps Coming By SUSAN PARKER

Tuesday January 04, 2005

In the past ten years I have hired people to take care of my disabled husband who often have had physical and psychological problems of their own. I have employed manic depressives who could not get out of bed, sufferers of ADD who were too hopped up to follow instructions, illiterates who could not read labels on pill bottles. I once hired someone and neglected to find out if he could make a simple sandwich and a salad for Ralph. He couldn’t. Another man had spent so much time in prison, he was unable to figure out how to use the coffeemaker. Coffee and tea had always been served to him. 

I have lived with alcoholics, drug addicts, pedophiles, abusers, and the abused. I have put up with petty theft, in-house fighting, snitches, overeaters, and liars. Twice the county health department has come to our door and required that we get tested for tuberculosis.  

I have picked our employees up in front of bars, churches, houses of ill repute, and the county jail. I’ve dropped them off at bus stops, strip clubs, card palaces, and rehab. I’ve taken their mothers to visit them while they’ve been incarcerated, hosted birthday parties for their children at Chuck E. Cheese’s, hired their relatives and friends when they were down on their luck. I have been to Social Security with them, the police station and the Department of Immigration. I’ve consulted lawyers to figure out their child support dilemmas and green card situations.  

Because of my employee/employer history, I will never be appointed Director of Homeland Security. 

I have grown old with the people who have helped me care for Ralph. Jerry, who lived with us for nine years, had a heart attack while in our employment. I took him to the Alta Bates Emergency Room, talked with his doctors and nurses, delivered fast food hamburgers to his bedside when he couldn’t tolerate the meals he was given. I did the same for Leroy when he was diagnosed with lung cancer and spent two weeks in the pulmonary ward. After he was sent home to our house with the prediction that he had six months to live, I entertained his Hospice nurses, social workers, and grieving relatives. I watched him slowly shrink to 85 pounds, and when he passed away, I helped with the details of having his body removed from our home and taken to a funeral parlor.  

So you’d think I’d have paid my dues by now and gotten enough positive karma to balance out the negative, but that, apparently, is not how it works. Now I’m a casualty of identity theft.  

Someone came into my house when I wasn’t here and stole a credit card, passport, cell phone and jewelry. I wasn’t aware of the theft until the credit card company called to tell me of unusual purchases. We canceled the card, and got a new one. But unbeknownst to me someone canceled that card and had a replacement sent to an alternative address. I went to Costco. I stood in line, unloaded my cart, and attempted to pay. That’s when I found out my credit was no good. I returned home and began the long process of contacting the government agencies that must be notified when someone has absconded with your identity. 

Then the telephone calls began. Strangers asked for information about Ralph and me. I hung up. When the calls became threatening I contacted the police. They told me that whoever was doing this would most likely not cause me bodily harm, but if they came to the door, I should call 911. This was not reassuring, but I didn’t tell them that. Instead I thought about asking the policemen to move in. When they left, I went out to the front porch in order to think about what I should do, but there was nowhere to sit. Someone had stolen the chair.