Only as an urban resident – Ep. 6

A college mentor once told me that if one wants to sound intelligent in a group conversation, but doesn’t really know what’s going on, one must simply exclaim, “But where do you draw the line?!” preferably in a British accent.

I’m drawing the line here.


I finish crying and resolve to finally draw a boundary between Shihiem and my home, as well as my workplace. He has gotten out of control. Something has to be done to protect my roommates, my neighbours on my block, my coworkers, my patients, myself, and Shihiem.

I look up on the Internet: what is a restraining order, am I eligible for this, and how do I get one for Shihiem?

Somehow my neighbours were able to get Shihiem to leave my porch. I explain to them that we are finished trying to help him. As of now, he is not allowed to loiter or squat on my property. They are all relieved. They don’t like him knocking on our door all the time. They don’t like him kicking the church walls across the street. They don’t like him tampering with our mail. They don’t like him sitting across the street watching my house at night. I tell them I will try to get a “stay away” order. They are happy to help, and they are happy to look out for my roommates and me.

Per the police website, my roommie and I go to the justice center after business hours to file a PFA (Protection From Abuse). The security guard points me to a phone with written instructions. Dial this number. The nice woman on the line tells me that I cannot file a PFA because Shihiem is neither my relative nor my boyfriend. I need to go to the district and file a police report first.  Then I need to go to the District Attorney at 9 a.m. in the morning with the police report number to file a private criminal complaint.

I look up on the Internet: in which police district do I reside, what are office hours for the police? (24 hours!)… I’ve learned that not all things that should be obvious or intuitive are necessarily a reality, so why should I assume that the police would be open 24/7?

I am at the district. The nice police officer is taking my info down and filling out a long fancy form.

“So, you were threatened by your boyfriend?”

“Umm. No. He is my neighbour.” (According to the Biblical definition of “neighbour”…)

He sighs, then rips up the form. “I can’t serve papers unless he is a relative or a romantic partner!” Then he pulls out a dinky half-sheet form.  On the brink of being annoyed, “Ok, tell me what happened.”

He writes a little narrative: Trespassing, loitering, sleeping on property without owner’s permission, leaving trash on property, damaged property, verbal threat, shows up at my workplace every day.

“Here is your police report number.”

I return home around 11:45 p.m. It’s only Monday. I don’t know how people do this if they had to rely on public transportation.

Shoot. I should have just fibbed and said Shihiem was my boyfriend. Maybe that would have sped up the paperwork. Just kidding.


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