Sunday, August 27, 2006

I'm Still Breathing

In case you're wondering, yes, I'm still breathing. You might be wondering why I haven't posted in more than 2 months. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that I've become a little disappointed with how many people actually read my blog. According to Feedburner, I have an average of 2 subcribers (readers) per day. One of those readers is me because I view my blog after posting on it. I originally started this blog for two reasons:

  1. To let my family (they all live in other states) know what's going on in my life. The only family member that I know reads my blog fairly regularly is my brother, Peter.
  2. My friend John has told me that I have an interesting life and if I wrote a book it would be a best seller. I haven't really gone very deep on this blog and I haven't talked about my past very much, but 2 readers per day isn't exactly best-selling.

The other reason that I haven't been posting is that I have been very busy and I've also been a litle depressed about what I've experienced the past few months. Read on for details. Warning: this is going to be a very long post.

Twelve weeks ago I was doing great - I had a car (and I still do), I'd bought a gun, I was going to get my Concealed Carry Permit and Armed Security License, and I had a little bit of extra money to get some clothes and catch up on some movies I'd been wanting to see. Besides getting fired from The Depot, everything was great. I had even been exercising 6 days/week for 3 weeks straight (a personal record) and drinking CytoGainer weight-gainer shakes 2-3 times per day.

On Wednesday, June 7th I was going to go to GoodGame to play some Counter-Strike: Source. I had requested Wednesday off to work a show at The Depot, but since I wasn't working there any more I had the night off. On the way there I stoppped by Little Caesars to get a $5 pizza. It was 11:15 P.M. so I didn't think they would still be open. As I pulled up I saw a lady standing next to her pick up truck. I asked her if they were still open. She said "No, I don't think so." Then I noticed that she was holding a gas can. She said "I'm out of gas." I said "Just a minute", pulled up into a parking spot, and parked my car. Then I got out, took her gas can, and told her that I would get her some gas. I went inside paid for $5 in gas, put the gas in the gas can, and then went to put the gas in her truck. As I was pouring the gas, I asked her why she was out of gas. She said that her husband, Kelly, was drunk and he was being abusive so she left to get the kids away from him. I asked her why she didn't just call the cops on her husband. She said that the house had been given to him by his grandma so she didn't have any rights to it (or something like that). She told me that she was on the way to her mom's house in Midvale. One of her kids, her youngest daughter, told her mom that she was hungry. This kid was easily one of the cutest kids I have ever seen. I offered to take them to McDonalds across the street and get them something to eat.

While eating I found out that her name was Chere. She had 4 kids - a 10 year old girl named Ashlee, a 9 year old boy boy named Tristan, a 5 year old girl named Anna, and a 9 month old boy named Haden (cutest baby boy I've ever seen). She asked to borrow my phone to call her mom. As we were finishing eating she asked me for my phone number. I told her that I had planned on giving it to her and gave her my business card. As I walked them out to their truck she thanked me and gave me a hug. GoodGame was closed by now so I went to a friend's house in Midvale. Chere called me about an hour later to let me know that her mom had paid for a room at the Intown Suites in Midvale and gave me her room number. I told her that I would call her the next day.

Thursday morning I went to the Loomis Fargo building in S.L.C. for the classroom instruction for my Concealed Carry Weapons permit and Armed Security Officer license. After the classroom instruction was over, I went to The Depot and picked up my last check for about $200. I deposited $95 in my checking acount so I could use Paypal to pay for the classroom and firearm instruction for my CCW permit and ASO license (it cost $110). After that I called my church to get some information about domestic violence shelters.

Then I called Chere and offered to get her some groceries and take her and the kids to a dollar movie later that night (to get the kids' minds off of what was going on). I heard Anna ask Chere if she could go to the grocery store with me. I told her that I was O.K. with that. She said it was O.K. as long as Ashlee could go with us. I said that was fine. I picked up Ashlee and Anna and we went to the grocery store. I bought them some basic groceries like milk, cereal, bread, bologna, ham, & cheese, some diapers for Haden, and a scented candle because their toilet at the hotel needed to be snaked and was stinking up the room. Then I took the girls back to the hotel, carried the groceries upstairs, and told Chere about the domestic violence shelters. She said that she wasn't going to the shelter. Her experience with the downtown shelter made her see shelters as places where druggies hang out. Even after I explained that the domestic violence shelters were not like the homeless shelters downtown, she still woould not go to one. I told her that I would be back later to take them to the dollar movie. I went to a friend's house for a couple of hours, played some Age of Empires II: The Conquerors, picked up Chere and the kids, and took them to see Eight Below at the Valley Fair Movies 9. It was a little bit sad, but the kids enjoyed it. I took Chere and the kids back to the hotel. I offered to take thier dirty laundry home and bring it back to them on the way to the firearm portion of my training the next morning.

So I went home, did their laundry, got a few hours of sleep, got up, took a shower, dropped off Chere's laundry, and went to the Holladay Gun Club for the firearm portion of my CCW and ASO training. It started to rain so we went inside and took the written test. I got a 97. Then we went to Doug's Shoot 'N Sports to finish the training. I got a 95 on the firearms test. After the training I called Chere. She told me that Intown Suites was going to hire her to be the Head of Housekeeping (a job that includes a big room in the hotel with two beds) but she had to get her I.D. so she could take a drug test. She said that she had to take her birth certificate to the Social Security office so she could get her Social Security card and take it to the D.M.V. to get ger I.D. I offered to come get her and the kids and take them to the Social Security office located in downtown Salt Lake City. By the time they were ready to go it was already 4:40 P.M. The S.S. office closes at 5:00. As I was carefully speeding down the highway, Chere called the S.S. office and found out that in addition to her birth certificate she also needed an I.D or driver's license to get her S.S. card. So in order to get her I.D. she had to have her birth certificate and her S.S. card, but to get her S.S. card she had to have I.D.

Since we were near downtown Salt Lake City, I suggested that we go to the Gateway Mall and let the kids play in the fountain (they have one of those fountains with a bunch of little geysers that shoot up in cool patterns set to music). She asked if we could go to a park instead so I took them to Liberty Park. When we got there the kids wanted to go on a paddleboat so I took Ashlee, Tristan, and Anna on a paddleboat (a first time experience for me). The kids really enjoyed it but Anna started to miss her mom towards the end. After the paddleboat we went to the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts and then the kids and I played on the playground. After a while Chere went to the car to change Haden's diaper. Soon after she left it started to lightning and thunder so we headed towards the car. Anna was scared so I carried her. Ashlee has astraphobia (fear of lightning) so she started to run off. I called her back to me and assured her that she would be O.K. as we ran to the car (it was starting to pour). I took them to get some Little Ceasars pizza, took them back to the hotel, and then went to work to make up for taking Wednesday off. While at work I looked up the requirements to get a Utah I.D. for the first time and found out that in addition to proof of legal presence, you also have to have two proofs of Utah residence.

On Saturday I printed the information about the requirements for getting an I.D. in Utah and took it to Chere. She told me that it would be easier for her to get a duplicate license in Arizona which is where she is from. On Sunday I did some research and found out that the Arizona Driver's License office closest to Salt Lake City is in Littlefield just across the Arizona border four and a half hours south of S.L.C. I bought some more groceries for Chere and the kids and told Chere that I would be willing to take her to the Driver's License office in Littlefield on Tuesday because my paycheck gets deposited around 12:30 A.M. on Tuesday. She said that she would rather go to the Driver's license office in Phoenix, where she is from, because she knew she could get a duplicate of her driver's license there with just her birth certificate. She also said that she needed to pick up a check for $50 and turn in a form so she could get a check mailed to her for $150 for taking care of someone else's kids for a little while. I figured that if it cost me $100 dollars in gas to get down there and back and $50 to stay in a hotel down there then I would spend $150 so she could have $150 and an I.D. to get a job so she could support herself and the kids. So we planned to leave at 1 A.M. on Tuesday morning after my paycheck had been direct deposited. It gets really slow at my work that time of night so I was sure I would be able to leave early. Sunday night I went to work my normal shift from 8 P.M. to 7 A.M.

On Monday, Chere called me and told me that her mother-in-law wasn't going to pay for the hotel room any more. She said that if I paid for the hotel room, she would pay me back when she got the check for $150. I didn't think she would be able to pay me back because she would need that money for the kids but I paid for the hotel room anyway. After paying for the hotel I went home to take a nap. I woke up in time to go to work but decided that if I was going to be driving all night, then I should just call in sick and get some sleep. At 11:00 P.M. I woke up, took a shower, and went to a friend's house to print Mapquest directions from Midvale to Phoenix. At 12:30 A.M. I went to Smith's grocery store to get some drinks and snacks. Then I went to the hotel at 1:00 to pick up Chere and the kids. When I got there Chere was in a bad mood because the kids had stayed up late and I had woke her up from a nightmare. She told me to just let her sleep for a while. I laid down on the floor and let her take a nap. We didn't end up leaving until 2:00 P.M. Tuesday afternoon.

On the way down to Phoenix, as we were driving through the forest south of Zion National Park, I noticed some dark shapes on the road. I breaked hard and stopped just short of a herd of cows. Around 11:00 P.M. Chere offered to drive. I had already ran over a couple of rabbits that ran under the car but knew it couldn't be avoided. After Chere had been driving for a little while, she ran over a rabbit. Running over the rabbit upset her so she turned around to see if it was O.K. I told her that it wasn't a good idea. We got out and sure enough the rabbit was suffering. It upset her and the kids. I told her that, if she wanted me to, I would put it out of its misery. They got into the car and pulled forward a little bit so they wouldn't have to see me do it. I stomped on the rabbit's neck to kill it quickly. Then I stood on its neck to make sure it was dead. After driving for about an hour Chere's eyes started to hurt so I drove again. Around 2:00 A.M. we were driving through Flagstaff, Arizona and Chere suggested that we get a motel so we could get some sleep before we had to check out. We stopped at Motel in the Pines in Munds Park, AZ and got a room. We slept in separate beds when we were staying at the motels.

Wednesday morning I woke up at 11:00, woke Chere up, took a shower, and cleaned out the car. Then we woke the kids up, got gas and drinks at the Chevron across the street, and headed towards Phoenix. After we stopped for a late breakfast, Chere drove the rest of the way because she knew Phoenix better than I did. We got to Phoenix around 3:00 P.M. We went to the building where Chere had to turn in the form to get the check mailed to her. We went to the nearest Driver's License office but they didn't do I.D.s past 12:30. By this time it was after 4:00 P.M. As Chere was asking for directions to the other DMV, the blower fan for the A.C. quit. As we headed towards the Driver's License office that did I.D.s until 5:00, Chere called and found out that you had to "get a number" (get in line) by 4:30 or they wouldn't help you. So Chere asked me to get a motel and said she would pay me back. We ended up going to a Motel 6. After we got the motel room, Chere asked to borrow the car so she could go to a friend's house to ask them for money but she didn't want to take all of the kids with her. The motel had a pool but Ashlee and Anna didn't have swimsuits so I offered to take them to the K-Mart next door to get swimsuits while Chere went to her friend's house.

We got back to the motel before Chere did. When we got to the hotel Ashlee saw her uncle who had been convicted of statuatory rape walk by. We got in the elevator and went up to our room. Just before we went into the room, Ashlee saw her Grandma's car parked at the motel. She was upset because she wasn't supposed to see her Grandma. We went into the hotel room and waited for Chere to get back. When Chere got back she said that she needed to talk to me. She told me that she hadn't gone to a friend's house to borrow money - she had gone to her ex-byofriend, Dale's house to get some pictures of her kids that she left there but he wasn't home. This is the ex-boyfriend who she told me had "abandoned" them (leaving her with the truck) at a rest stop in Colorado.

She also told me that she had run into her mom at the motel and when her mom went to hug her she pushed her away and told her that she couldn't deal with this right now. Chere told me that Tristan and Anna's dad, Chad, did drugs. She told me that her mom had been hanging out with Chad and doing drugs so she didn't want to see her mom. I told her that we could just stay in the motel room. She said that she didn't want to keep the kids from having fun swimming so she was going to let them go swimming. This didn't make sense to me but they're her kids. I asked her to wait for me. She said she would be O.K. They went down to the pool. I changed and then met them down there. I had bought Anna some floaties but she was still scared to step off of the steps. I helped her get more comfortable swimming on her own by letting her swim to me and gradually increasing the distance. Then Chere asked me if I could hold Haden and let him play in the pool. I said sure. Then Chere went up to her mom's motel room. Haden really liked playing in the pool. During the day, while Chere had been driving, I had been able to keep Haden from crying more easily than anyone in his family.

A little while later Chere came back down to the pool with her mom. Her mom's name is Cheryl. The kids said hi to her and then continued to play in the pool. Chere took Haden and went back up to the hotel room. A little while later, Chere waved for me to come up to the room. I left the kids with their Grandma. When I got to the room, Chere told me that she wanted the kids to have some time alone with their grandma. Chere was acting very different. I figured she was either drunk or dealing with some internal issues. I found out later that I was right on both accounts - Cheryl had some Tequila in her room and Chere had drunk quite a bit of that. Chere went down to here mom's room. After changing I went down to Cheryl's room and met Chere's family - her sister, Tina, Tina's 14 year old daughter, Chelse, and her dad, Harry. I found out that the reason that Cheryl and Harry were staying at the motel is because their water main had broke. Chere was crying a lot and so was Tina. It was an accidental family reunion. That night Ashlee went to Cheryl's house to spend the night with Chelse because Cheryl was taking care of Chelse (I guess they didn't mind not being able to use the bathroom because there was no water).

The next morning (Thursday) Chere, Tristan, Anna, Haden, and I went to Cheryl's house. Chere needed to go to the DMV but she was worried that Chad would come by because he had been coming by to ask Cheryl where Chere and the kids were. She had told me that he had tried to kidnap Tristan from school. I offered to stay with Cheryl, Anna, and Haden while Chere, Chelse, Ashlee, and Tristan went to the Driver's License office. Cheryl noticed how good I was with Haden and appreciated me staying.

An hour or two later Chere and the kids returned. Chere had her I.D. Soon after they got back, Chad showed up. Ashlee had been outside and came running in to tell us. Chad had not seen her. Chad came to the door and knocked. We did not answer the door. One of the kids that lived in one of the neighboring apartments told Chad that Chere and the kids were here. He knocked on the door a couple more times. Anna was upset so I held her until she calmed down. After Chad walked away from the door Chere peaked through the blinds and saw that he was on the phone. About 15 minutes later, the police knocked on the door. Cheryl was in her room when the police showed up so I said, "Just a second, sir." Somehow, one of the police officers interpreted that as, "I have a shotgun". They said, "Put the shotgun away." I said, "I don't have a shotgun." Cheryl came and opened the door and I held my hands up with the palms showing so they could see that I was unarmed. They asked Chere some questions. Chere told them that Chad was the father of Tristan and Anna, they were never married, and she had a restraining order against Chad that prevented him from contacting and coming near her or the kids. The police went back outside and talked to Chad. He had brought a revised copy of the restraining order which allowed him to be near the kids but didn't allow him near Chere (but since they were in Chere's care, he had to stay away from all of them). The police came back in, told Chere about the revised restraining order, told us to stay inside, and went outside to tell Chad to leave. A couple minutes after the cops went outside, Chere asked Cheryl to go outside and tell Chad that she was O.K. with the kids coming down to see him (once again, this didn't make sense). When Cheryl did this, the cops got mad at her and told her to go back inside. They made Chad leave and then came back up and explained why they were mad - they basically had the situation resolved, but Chere changing her mind and Cheryl coming outside could have made the situation worse (they had told us to stay inside).

A couple hours after the cops left (because we were waiting for the sun to set so we wouldn't be hot since the A.C. was broken) we got ready to leave. Ashlee asked Chere if Chelse could come with us. Chere asked me if we could bring her with us. I told her that I thought it wasn't a good idea because she would be bringing another mouth to feed and we didn't have room in the car, which meant that Tristan and Anna would have to share a seat belt and Tristan has a habit of picking on Anna and I didn't want to have to deal with that all the way home. She argued that Chelse could babysit while she worked. She also said that the Tristan & Anna problem wouldn't be a problem (I think she was lying to herself). I told her that it was a bad idea, but I would do whatever she wanted to do. So she decided to bring Chelse with us. Chere drove when we first left. Soon after we left Tristan started pushing on Anna because he was uncomfortable sharing a seat belt with her. I told him to quit, but he kept being mean to her. After about 15 minutes of Tristan whining, I sat on the floor and let Anna use my seat belt. Shortly after that, Chere's eyes started hurting, so I drove. It was a long trip because:

  • No one got much sleep except Ashlee, who laid on Chelse's lap and put her legs across my lap.
  • Chelse repeatedly asked me if I was going to fall asleep while driving so I pulled over twice to get her to quit worrying.
  • Tristan and Anna kept fighting whenever they were awake.
We got back to Salt Lake around noon on Friday. According to Chere, the Manager of Intown Suites had told her that she would get a free room when she got back because of the problem with the toilet. Well we had been in Arizona a day longer than we had planned and since it was the weekend the Manager wasn't there so they didn't have a place to stay. I suggested a domestic violence shelter and again she declined. She told me to just take her back to Kelly's house. I told her that if she went back there, then everything we had done would have been for nothing (I should have just taken her back there - you'll see why in a minute). She asked me to get them a hotel room and she would "pay me back". I ended up paying for a hotel for them for 2 nights. I continued to help them out as much as I could until Wednesday. Wednesday afternoon, Chere came to my house (I rent a room in a house) and asked to use my phone because her check had not arrived at my house yet. While she was on the phone I looked at the documents she was holding (each document had 2 pages) and noticed that the second document (the one she was supposed to be getting the check for) was for the same amount as the first document, $48. So she had lied to me about needing to go to Arizona to get that check for $150. If I had known the check was only going to be for $48 and that it was going to cost me $200 in gas (not $100 as I had estimated), I would have taken her to the DMV in Littlefield, AZ and just given her $48. While she was on the phone she found out that the second document was actually a duplicate of the first document. After looking at the documents some more, I saw that anyone who took the time to look closely at the documents would have seen that.

At this point I owed my bank $333.61 ($150 of that was for my car payment and $41 of it was for my monthly TFT payment). This means that in two weeks I spent $750 on myslef, Chere and the kids, most of which was spent on Chere and the kids. I decided to no longer help Chere because she had been lying to me and she was unwilling to get help from the State. I found out why over the next few days.

Wednesday night I went to work (I had gone back to work on Sunday). Around 1 A.M. I got a phone call from an "Unavailable" number. It was Chere. She said that the cops had pulled her over because the truck was stolen. She claimed that she had no idea. She claimed that Dale had told her that he had been making the payments on the truck to buy it and she didn't know it was stolen. She told me that she might get arrested and asked me to come get the kids and their stuff. I took my lunch break and went to get them.

When I got there I talked to the police and found out that the truck was reported stolen because it was a rental and had not been returned. It had been reported stolen a few weeks before. The detective told me that the car rental companies usually wait a couple of weeks before reporting the vehicle stolen so Chere had stolen the truck over a month ago. She claimed that her ex-boyfriend had told her that it was being paid for. I'm pretty sure she was lying. The police decided not to arrest her because she had the kids, but they were pressing charges. They were charging her with Grand Theft Auto, which is a felony. The detective told me that she would have to go to court in a couple of weeks. I loaded all of their stuff into my car. The police helped her get a good deal on a motel. She paid for all but $7 of it, which I paid. I helped Chere get most of thier stuff out of my car and take it up to their room. Before going back to work I spent my last $2 on a half gallon of milk for Haden.

Thursday afternoon I got a call from Tina telling me that Chere was in jail and the kids were with the Department of Human Services' Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS), which is the child protective agency for Utah. The DCFS case worker called me on Thursday and Friday but I never talked to her because we just played phone tag. I also got calls from both of Chere's husbands (yes both of them - Chad and Dale, the "ex-boyfriend") and from Kelly - the one that she claimed was her abusive husband. They wanted to know what was going on with Chere and the kids. I told them as much as I knew. I also told them that I was not in a romantic or physical relationship with Chere - I was just in it to help the kids. I told them this out of respect, not out of fear.

Chere got out of jail on Saturday. She called me and asked me to bring the rest of their stuff to Kelly's house - "the abusive husband". I drove over to his house and he met me outside to get their stuff. Later that day Chere called me asking me why I told Dale that we had slept together. I told her that I had told Chad, Dale, and Kelly that we did not have a romantic or phsical relationship. A couple of hours later she called me again and left me a message saying that she wanted to know what I had told the kid's case worker (with DCFS) because I shouldn't be talking to her because I "had nothing to do with her and the kids". I called her back and told her I hadn't talked to her and set Chere straight on the bit about "having nothing to do with her and the kids".

I ended up having to pawn my gun for $200, sell my X-Box for $50, and borrow $400 from a friend to get out of the financial hole I had dug for myself. My motives were good (helping the children) but I shouldn't have spent so much money doing it. I should have realized that Chere was in the situation she was in because of the choices she makes and because she is dishonest and is too picky about what type of help she receives. I learned from my mistake but it was a very expensive one.

To be continued...