Dating Across the Lifespan

 

Dating Across the Lifespan

I’ve heard it said that a person has greater odds of getting hit by a cow falling out of the sky than getting married after the age of 60.  Admittedly, those are humorous and somewhat grim “statistics.” Still I’m left with many thought-provoking questions about the complexity of dating throughout the life span.  What is it (or who) that changes so much from the teen years to the senior years? 

We are all accustomed to completing applications for employment, credit, major purchases and even for insurance and medical questionnaires. These applications contain some really personal questions we are required to complete.  Many of us may at some point have been on the witness stand, giving our answers under a sworn oath.   The penalty of lying on an application or under oath can range from being fired to prosecution.

What then should be the required disclosures in a dating relationship?

My mother admonished me with this guidance “You should never date someone you wouldn’t want to marry.” Where did she arrive at that bit of wisdom?  Each person comes to the relationship with his or her own strengths, weaknesses, and baggage.  What makes someone a “good catch?” I’ve put some thought into major topics of importance.  Which issues matter and which should be disregarded?  Where does the “right to know” apply in a dating relationship?

 PRE-DATING QUESTIONNAIRE

(Pre-adolescent dating is not a consideration)

13 – 15 years of age 

  • How old are you?
  • Do you have an unlimited texting plan?
  • Can you get your parents to drop you off at the mall?
  • What time do you have to be home?
  • Which music do you like?
  • Are you going to the dance?
  • Are you going to the game?
  • Do you play sports?
  • Do you get an allowance?
  • Are you on Facebook?

16 – 18 years of age

  • Do you have your driver’s license?
  • Do you have your own car?
  • Do you have a part time job?
  • Do you get an allowance?
  • Which classes are you taking?
  • Are you going to college?
  • Do you want to get high?
  • Are you on birth control?
  • What time do you have to be home?
  • Do you have a credit card?
  • Would you ever date somebody of a different race or ethnic background?
  • Would you date somebody your parents or friends disapproved of?
  • Are you on Facebook?

19 – 25 years of age

  • Are you married?  (If yes, end of consideration)
  • Are you separated?  (If yes, end of consideration)
  • Have you ever been married?
  • (If divorced):  Do you have custody of the children?
  • Can you get a babysitter?
  • Would you ever date somebody of a different race or ethnic background?
  • Would you date somebody your parents or friends disapproved of?
  • Have you ever physically struck/hit a person of the opposite sex?
  • Do you have a full time job?  If so where?
  • What are your hours of work/days off?
  • What are your career goals/ambitions?
  • Are you in college?
  • Did you finish college?  If yes, Degree earned.   If not, why?
  • Do you have outstanding student loans?
  • Are you a registered voter?
  • Did you vote in the last election?
  • What is your political party affiliation?
  • Would you consider yourself liberal?  Conservative?
  • Do you have your own apartment?
  • Do you have a home mortgage?
  • Do you have a roommate?  If so, are they same or opposite sex?
  • What was the last purchase you made on credit?
  • What was the last MAJOR purchase you made on credit?
  • How many credit cards do you have?
  • How many of your credit cards are maxed out?
  • Do you owe more than $5,000 in credit card debt?
  • Do you have a joint credit card with another person?
  • Do you want to get high?
  • Do you want to go out for drinks?
  • Are you on Facebook?

26 – 40 years of age

  • Are you married? Are you separated?  (If yes, end of consideration)
  • How many times have you been married?
  • (If divorced):  Why did you divorce or get divorced?
  • Why haven’t you been married?
  • Do you have children?  If so, how many?  If not, why?
  • Have you ever physically struck/hit a person of the opposite sex?
  • Have you had sterilization surgery?
  • How many children do you have?    How old are they?
  • Do any of your children live at home?
  • Do you pay child support?      Do you receive child support?
  • Can I trust you with my children?
  • Does anybody else live with you?    Gender?      Relationship?
  • Where do you work?     How long have you been there?
  • What are your hours of work/days off?
  • What are your dreams/aspirations/goals?
  • What was the last purchase you made on credit?
  • What was the last MAJOR purchase you made on credit?
  • How many credit cards do you have?
  • How many of your credit cards are maxed out?
  • Do you owe more than $5,000 in credit card debt?
  • Do you have a joint credit card with another person?
  • Are you a registered voter?
  • Did you vote in the last election?
  • What is your political party affiliation?
  • Would you consider yourself liberal?  Conservative?
  • Do you own you own home?    How many unrelated people live with you?       Gender?
  • Where is your home located?
  • Are you in college?
  • Did you finish college?  If yes, Degree earned.   If not, why?
  • Do you have outstanding student loans?
  • What kind of car do you have?
  • Do you have pets?  How many?  What kind?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you drink?
  • Do you use drugs?
  • Do you have a tattoo?  Where?
  • Where do you like to go on vacation?
  • Do you go to church?  If so, where?   If not, why?
  • What is your religious affiliation?
  • Do you have hobbies?    What are they?
  • Which are your favorite sports teams?
  • Do you work out?      If so, where?
  • Is your weight proportionate to your height?
  • Can you still see your feet when standing upright?
  • Are you on Facebook?

41 – 59 years of age

  • Are you married? Are you separated?  (If yes, end of consideration)
  • How many times have you been married?
  • (If divorced):  Why did you divorce or get divorced?
  • If never married, why?
  • Do you have children?  If so, how many?    How old are they?
  • Do you pay child support?        Do you receive child support?
  • If you don’t have children, why not?
  • Can I trust you with my children?
  • Are you Widowed?       How long?
  • Would you ever date somebody of a different race or ethnic background?
  • Would you date somebody your close friends disapproved of?
  • Have you ever physically struck/hit a person of the opposite sex?
  • Are you in college?
  • Did you finish college?  If yes, Degree earned.   If not, why?
  • Do you have outstanding student loans?
  • What was the last purchase you made on credit?
  • What was the last MAJOR purchase you made on credit?
  • How many credit cards do you have?
  • How many of your credit cards are maxed out?
  • Do you owe more than $5,000 in credit card debt?
  • Do you have a joint credit card with another person?
  • Do you have a home mortgage?      If so, who lives with you?   Relationship? Gender?
  • Where do you work?
  • What are your hours of work/days off?
  • How long have you worked at your current job?
  • Are you a registered voter?
  • Did you vote in the last election?
  • What is your political party affiliation?
  • Would you consider yourself liberal?  Conservative?
  • Do you have health insurance?
  • Do you have any major health issues?
  • Do you have a 401K plan?
  • Do you own your own home?    How many unrelated people live with you?   Gender?
  • Where is your home located?
  • Do you live with your parents?        Why?              
  • Where else have you lived?
  • Where have you traveled?
  • What do you want to do when you retire?
  • Have you served in the military?   If so, where and when?   Were you honorably discharged?
  • Do you have credit card debt?
  • What is your credit score?
  • Do you have children still living at home?
  • How many children over the age of 18 are still living at home?
  • How many children do you currently support?
  • Do you use birth control?  Have you had sterilization surgery?
  • Where do you go to church?
  • Do you smoke?        Drink?          Use drugs?
  • Do you have any current health problems?
  • Have you ever been incarcerated?   If so, why?     Where?     Charges?    Currently on parole?   Did you do it?   Are you lying?
  • Have you ever been in rehab?     What for?  If yes, have you ever relapsed?
  • Is your weight proportionate to your height?
  • Can you still see your feet when standing upright?
  • Are you on Facebook?

60 – 85 years of age

PERSONAL

  • Date of birth:  (Would you lie about a fact that is this concrete?)
  • Birthplace:
  • Have you been married before?  If so, list # of times.
  • How old were you when you were 1st married?
  • If you are divorced, who initiated divorce proceedings and why?
  • Do you still have a relationship with your ex?          How would you describe it?
  • How long did your marriage(s) last?
  • How long have you been divorced?
  • Do you pay alimony?              Do you receive alimony?
  • Have you ever had an extra-marital affair?
  • Are you Widowed?           How long?
  • Can I trust you with my children and/or grandchildren?
  • Have you ever lied to your spouse?
  • In a dating relationship, do you find yourself attracted to:
  1. A partner around my same age
  2. A partner 6 – 15 years older than myself
  3. A partner 6 – 15 years younger than myself
  4. A partner the age of my children
  5. A partner 15 – 20 years older than myself
  6. A partner 15 – 20 years younger than myself

HEALTH

Have you ever been diagnosed with or treated for a sexually transmitted disease?    If so, what disease?  Treated more than once?

Have you ever been tested for:

  • HIV/AIDES
  •  Hepatitis B
  •  Hepatitis C

Have you ever tested positive for any of the above?

  • Do you have any MAJOR health problems or chronic diseases  (e.g. heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes)?
  • Have you ever been hospitalized?     WHY?
  • Have you ever had surgery?   If so, list surgeries and dates:
  • Have you been told you need surgery but refused to have it?
  • Do you use prescription drugs?               How many?          Which ones?              Why?
  • Do you require an assistive device to walk (e.g. walker or cane)?
  • Do you use a wheelchair?
  • Do you require a prostheses of any type (artificial leg/arm/hand, eye, penile prostheses, hearing aide)?
  • Do you have erectile dysfunction?    Is treatment successful?
  • Are you incontinent?    Bowel?   Bladder?    Both?     Flatulence?
  • Do you snore?
  • Have you been told you have sleep apnea?  If so, do you use a C-pap machine?
  • Were you ever a Boy Scout?  Girl Scout?   If so, number of merit badges earned:
  • Have you ever served in the military?   If yes, which branch & where?  # of years:
  • Honorably Discharged?
  • Do you have tattoos?  If yes, list number:
  • Do you have more tattoos that Boy/Girl Scout badges?
  • Is your TTT ratio high?     Is your TTT ratio low?    (# of teeth:# of tattoos)
  • # tattoos obtained while in military service:
  • # tattoos obtained before military service:         # After:
  • # tattoos obtained while incarcerated:
  • Do you smoke cigarettes?  # packs/day
  • Do you chew tobacco?
  • Do you dip snuff?
  • Do you use illegal drugs?
  • Do you drink alcoholic beverages?      Type?  Frequency?
  • Is your weight proportionate to your height?
  • Can you still see your feet when standing upright?
  • How many hours per week do you watch television?  (Are you a couch potato who lies in a chair with a remote in his/her hand all evening?)
  • How many hours per week do you exercise?

FINANCIAL

  • What was the last purchase you made on credit?
  • What was the last MAJOR purchase you made on credit?
  • How many credit cards do you have?
  • How many of your credit cards are maxed out?
  • Do you owe more than $5,000 in credit card debt?
  • Do you have a joint credit card with another person?
  • Do you still have a home mortgage?
  • How many children over the age of 18 live in your household?
  • Do you live with one of your children?         Why?
  • Do you live with a friend?             If yes, gender?           Are you related?
  • Do you currently pay child support?   If so, amount and # of children:
  • Do you currently pay alimony?   If so, amount:
  • How many loans have you currently co-signed for friends/family?
  • Have you ever taken a Dave Ramsey course?
  • What is your current credit score?     (All 3 credit reporting agencies)
  • Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?
  • Have you ever defaulted on a debt?
  • How much money do you have in your 401K plans?
  • When you do plan to retire?
  • What will be your Social Security income when you retire?
  • If retired, do you have a part time job?
  • If still working, do you plan to have a part time job after you retire?
  • If still working, do you plan to travel after you retire?
  • If still working, do you plan to do nothing after you retire?
  • What model car do you drive?        Is it paid for?

GENEROSITY/VOLUNTEERISM

  • What was the last random act of kindness you did?   Who for?    What did it require:   Money?      Time?         Both?              Other?
  • List occasions you volunteered your time/energy/talents to serve someone you don’t know personally?           What did you do?      Where?     When?
  • Duration?

SPIRITUAL

  • Are you a daily follower of Jesus Christ?  How long (# months/years):
  • Do you know you could do better if you were more committed to studying your Bible daily?
  • What was the date you were baptized?           Where?
  • Religious Denomination?
  • Do you serve on any committees in your church?
  • Do you serve in areas of ministry in your church?  (e.g. choir, nursery, teacher, outreach)
  • What do you believe the Bible teaches about the role of women in the church?
  • Do you currently tithe 10% of your gross income to your local church?

FAMILY/FRIENDS/RELATIONSHIPS

  • Is your mother living?    If not, # years deceased?     Cause of death?
  • Is your father living?      If not, # years decreased?    Cause of death?
  • # of friends you see on a weekly basis for one-on-one interaction:
  • # of friends you talk to on a weekly basis:
  • # of children:
  • How often do your children come to see you?

When your children visit, what is the purpose for their visits?

A)   To borrow money

B)   To drop off grandchildren

C)   To visit and spend time with you

D)   To move in

How often do you go see your children?

  • Do you have family members who are estranged from the rest of the family?  Is so, why?       Duration of time they’ve been estranged:
  • Do you spend holidays with your family?
  • How would you describe your family?   Dysfunctional?   Well-balanced?
  • Would you ever date somebody of a different race or ethnic background?
  • Would you date somebody your children or close friends disapproved of?
  • Are you on Facebook?     How often?

EDUCATION/LITERACY

  • How many years of school did you complete?
  • How many college degrees have you earned?  What majors?
  • Did your parents pay for your college education?
  • Did you work while you were going to college?
  • Are you still paying off student loans?
  • Did you pay for or are you paying for your children’s college education?
  • When was the last personal development course you took?
  • What was the subject of the last professional development course you took?
  • What subject do you wish you knew more about?    Do you have actual plans to accomplish this?
  • Do you speak a second language?   Third?
  • What was the last book you read?
  • Are you computer literate?

SPECIAL SKILLS

  • Do you have special skills?
  • Computers?  Programming?  Technological?
  • Do you have a Smart Phone?
  • Mechanical?
  • Electrical?
  • Plumbing?
  • Financial?
  • Political?
  • Handyman?
  • Carpentry?
  • Painter?
  • Builder?
  • Martial Arts?
  • Massage?
  • Self-Defense?
  • Firearms?
  • Other?

HOBBIES/INTERESTS

  • Do you have hobbies?    If so, what?
  • How many hours per week do you spend at home doing your hobby?
  • How many hours per week do you spend away from home doing your hobby?
  • How spontaneous are you on a scale of 0 – 10?  (0 being the least spontaneous; 10 being the most spontaneous)
  • Golf?
  • Horticulture?
  • Gardening?
  • Woodworking?
  • Leather crafts?
  • Hiking?
  • Hunting?
  • Other?

TRAVEL

  • List States you have visited:              Purpose:
  • List Countries you have visited:               Purpose:
  • States where you have lived:             Duration:                   Is there a reason you wouldn’t go back there?
  • Countries where you have lived:         Duration:                Military-related?
  • Where are the favorite places you have traveled:
  • Where would you like to travel that you haven’t already been?           What is stopping you from going?

CULINARY

  • Can you cook?
  • How often do you cook?
  • What are your favorite dishes to cook?
  • What are your favorite dishes to eat?
  • Dislikes:
  • Preferences:
  • Favorite restaurants?
  • Dietary requirements/restrictions/limitations?

TEMPERAMENT/SOCIAL

  • When is the last time you raised your voice at somebody?     Why?
  • Do you have a bad temper?
  • Have you ever physically struck/hit a person of the opposite sex?
  • Are you jealous?
  • Do you like to go out for drinks?
  • Do you dance?
  • Do you like crowds?

Given a choice, how would you prefer to spend an evening:

  1. Dinner
  2. Dinner and a movie
  3. Sports event
  4. Home in a chair with a remote in one hand.
  5. Home in a chair with a can of beer in one hand and a remote in the other
  6. Playing board games or cards
  7. Having friends over
  8. Fixing dinner with my partner
  9. Home:  cozied up to my partner, watching a movie we’ve picked together and sharing a bowl of popcorn
  10. Babysitting my grandchildren
  11. Curled up with a good book, in my own world.
  12. Surfing the internet
  13. Checking out Facebook

DISABILITY/DEATH

  • Do you have disability insurance?
  • Who would take care of you if you became disabled?
  • Do you have a Health Care Power of Attorney?
  • Do you have a Living Will?
  • Do you have a Will?
  • Who is the Executor of your Will?
  • Who will your Estate go to?
  • Who is your attorney?
  • Do you have your burial plot purchased?    Where?
  • If widowed, do you plan to be buried beside a former spouse?
  • If so, do you already have a double tombstone?   Where is it located?

SUMMATION

Admittedly, the questions above are HARD questions.  I daresay most of them are ones you would never dare ask and would probably walk away before a half dozen of them were asked of you.  You won’t discover these answers over a cup of coffee or in casual dinner conversation.  You do, however, need to be a great listener.  There are things a person tells you without putting those details into words. Have you ever considered paying a Private Investigator to check out a person you considered dating? I know people who have done this and were later glad they did.Have you ever dated someone who isolated you from your closest friends and/or family?Have you ever dated/married someone your closest friends disapproved of?    If yes, what have you learned from this experience?

In conclusion, people change as they grow older based on life experiences.  Couples who marry in their 20’s and stay together, grow together and have shared experiences.  Those who find themselves dating in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and later have experiences (and often baggage) they bring to a new relationship.  The ideal mate has more to do with how positively each individual has adapted to life experiences and very little to do with physical appearance or attributes.  Of major importance are flexibility, determination, preparation, character, dependability, integrity and respect.   And oh yes, listen to what your gut instincts tell you about that person! If something seems a little “off” about that person, beware!  A wise friend once told me if the person I considered dating was 80% of what I was looking for in a partner, then I should explore the relationship further to see if we had enough common ground on which to build our lives together.   What has been your experience?

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com

 

Dating Across the Lifespan


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How Much Apathy Can You Afford, America?

 

I'm Watching You photoIn case you hadn’t noticed, America has changed.  It has been slow and insidious over the past 40 – 50 years, but “while you were sleeping” or otherwise busy with your own life, real justice (and what it is costing you) changed.  With a stroke of many pens, politicians you did (or didn’t) help elect made decisions by introducing and/or supporting bills you probably had no knowledge about.  After the election hype was over and politicians assumed their collective offices, you quit watching and listening to what they supported, went back to your own busy life and looked the other way. When things turned really sour and those bad decisions came to light, the finger pointing turned to blaming one political party over the other for a poor decision or the balance (or imbalance) of power in Congress.

You may never have checked voting records of those you helped put in office to determine whether you agreed with what they stood for beyond their political party affiliations. So the question now becomes:  Just how much apathy can you and your wallet continue to afford, America?

Just to make sure you’re fully awake, here are a few facts you may not know about.

1)  A U.S. Court has started precedence by ruling that taxpayers fund gender reassignment surgery for an inmate serving a life sentence for murder.

(Please click on the links below for more information on each topic.)

http://www.correctionsone.com/correctional-healthcare/articles/6802592-Mass-appeals-inmates-sex-reassignment-surgery/

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/beginning-gender-change-prison-long-shot-f6C10974050

http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterubel/2012/10/04/is-sex-reassignment-surgery-a-basic-human-right/

http://media.ca1uscoiurts.gov/pdf.opinions/12-2194P-01A.pdf

http://www.transgenderlaw.org/ndlaws/#jurisdictions

2)  How do these U.S. Court Judges get in office?

http://www.uscourts.gov/Common/FAQS.aspx

3)  Taxpayers are paying for Medicare for illegal aliens.

Check your pay stub.  How much are you contributing to Medicare every pay period?  Those who literally crawled under the border fences and never paid a dime really appreciate it.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jan/7/illegal-aliens-may-lose-os-some-medicare-benefits/?page=all

4)  Taxpayers are paying for Welfare, Food Programs, Housing and Medicaid for illegal aliens.

https://cis.org/immigrant-welfare-use-2011

5) Why do we continue to ignore the border security of America?   More and more illegal aliens slip into America bringing illegal drugs and/or signing up for welfare and other benefits as entitlements.  We can’t afford to support those already on our welfare roles.  Exactly WHY would the “pathway to citizenship” notion trump border security?  Do you believe this poll truly represents the collective opinion of America on this critical topic?

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/02/06/cnn-poll-pathway-to-citizenship-trumps-border-security/

6)  Affordable healthcare:   incarcerated inmates are being signed up under Obamacare.   Thanks again, America.

http://m.teaparty.org/jails-enroll-inmates-obamacare-pass-hospital-costs-u-s-34209/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=social

Ultimately, WE THE PEOPLE still have power, but we continue to choose not to use it beyond Election Day.  We blindly trust elected politicians to do the right thing on our behalf and then don’t monitor their decisions to make sure they are truly representing us.   Are we allowing those deaf to our opinions to be our collective voice?   Are we even speaking up and using our voice?  Please understand that our U.S. Congress is comprised of mostly millionaires.

http://swampland.time.com/2014/01/09/congress-is-now-mostly-a-millionaires-club/

NO, they really don’t know what it is like to work from paycheck to paycheck and wonder how they’re going to stretch their income to pay for healthcare, housing, food, utilities, education and other living expenses.  Additionally, they have no clue what burdens they put on the backs of the bulk of taxpaying Americans by their poor decisions.

Therefore it is entirely up to us to protect and preserve America for future generations and ourselves.  Would you trust to leave the doors to your home unlocked to strangers?  These are our security borders, America, yet they are NOT secure.   People who are not invested in our Nation and never worked to build it are bleeding it dry.

How much do you trust others with what you have worked to earn?  Would you leave your car unlocked, setting in your driveway with the keys in the ignition?  Do you trust people you don’t know with your bank account and your wallet?  I doubt it.  So why would you turn over the “keys” to America to elected officials who continue to prove they can’t or won’t govern in the best interest of all taxpaying Americans?

Do you get performance evaluations at work?  If you make an error in judgment, it is usually called to your attention and you’re expected to correct it or face disciplinary action.  Then do the same for those holding political office!

Here’s how you can hold your elected officials accountable by tracking issues currently being discussed in Congress and monitoring HOW your Congressman voted on the important issues:

https://www.govtrack.us/

You can even sign up to get email alerts from the link above.  This is an excellent way to see for yourself how a Congressman voted on a particular issue.  If he/she voted “Yay” and actually supported an issue, then denied it to the public later in an attempt to get re-elected, you can find out firsthand. You have a voice.   Use it, America!  Let your elected officials know you are watching and will hold them accountable for their decisions on your behalf.

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com

I'm Watching You photo


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Memories of Russia: Fear, The Nurse, Insomnia and the Thief

The Olympics have stirred many memories of my visit to Moscow with a mission team in 1996.  I grew up during the height of the Cold War in the 1950’s and 60’s when some families were building their own fall out shelters for what they believed would eventually be a nuclear war.  Those were scary times.  Nobody (adult or child) should live with that kind of fear.

But this story is not about them.  It is about a small town girl stepping foot on foreign soil where she never dreamed her feet would land.   It’s about stepping outside my own comfort zone in an effort to encourage, share my Faith, and to make a positive difference in the lives and health of total strangers. Most importantly, it is about overcoming fear.

Moscow Saint Basil'sCathedralIn July 1996, I agreed to participate as a Registered Nurse on a mission team to Moscow, Russia.  Less than five years earlier, the dissolution of the Soviet Union had occurred in late December 1991.  Around the world we had watched as anti-government protesters in Kiev, Ukraine toppled the city’s landmark statue of Russian leader Vladimir Lenin and decapitated his statue.

 During that same period of time, we watched from the safety of our homes in the U.S. via live television as tanks of the Taman Divizion fired upon The White House of Russia (Belyi Dom), one of Moscow’s most notable landmarks.  This structure, a focus point during the coup that ousted Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev from power, was left scarred and burned. Gorbachev had resigned declaring his office extinct, and handed over the Soviet nuclear missile launching codes to Russian President Boris Yeltsin.  I remember breathing a little easier and feeling a little safer as I watched those historical events unfold.  Many of my childhood fears had finally been laid to rest with the fall of the USSR.

There are many details I could include in this story.  Among them would be the true beauty of the Moscow subway, St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin, St. Peter’s Square, and the Faberge egg collection. 

I could write about our mission experience there, the doctors who earn the equivalent of $30 a month as well as the shortage of medicines and supplies in Russian hospitals.  I could tantalize you reviews about the wonderful, salty soups that always included cabbage.  I could break your heart with stories of old people trying to sell bread on the street just to survive.  I could send chills up your spine with stories of the plethora of black Mercedes, members of the Russian mafia who owned them, and street vendors who paid protection fees for their booths.  I could also caution you about how foolhardy it is to pull money out where strangers can see it, especially in Russia. 

I could share heartwarming stories about Christian men who were exiled to Siberia because of their faith, leaving their wives to keep their families together with an unshakable faith they couldn’t publicly share.

I could tell you about our interactions with the Russian people who marveled at lighthearted spirit and laughter of our American team and their observations that we were always smiling.  Their offer to us:  In exchange for teaching them how to laugh, they would teach us how to cry.

Our team of about 21 stayed in “one of the better hotels” in Moscow.  There were no elevators to lessen the struggle with personal luggage, our beds were narrower than twin bed size and the décor was modest at best.  Faded, outdated draperies covered huge windows laden with the heavy film of pollution so thick I could hardly see out.  Tiny 8 x 10 scenic photos of unknown Russian structures hung on otherwise bland and lifeless walls that hadn’t seen a coat of paint for at least a decade. 

It was mid-July, and something of an oddity to logic was happening in Moscow.   Amazingly, the buildings don’t have their own water heaters.  Water is actually heated at a central location in the city and pumped to the point of use. As luck would have it, this precise time frame was when “summer” maintenance was occurring and hot water was shut off throughout the city.   So for the 17 days I was there in Moscow (at least to this thin-blooded Southerner), it felt like those daily showers were taken in ice water.

Only for the sake of brevity, I have chosen to focus on one especially sleepless 2nd night in Moscow, when my body was still trying desperately to adapt to time zone differences.

My roommate (a college student) and I had just said our goodnights to other members of our team. I had picked up a local newspaper just for the curiosity factor.  I looked first at the pictures, and since I couldn’t read a single word of Russian, laid it down on the floor at the foot of my bed. I remember carrying on a brief conversation with my roommate, then closing my eyes to try and sleep.  Inevitably, she had remembered something she needed to ask another team member, went out briefly and later returned when I already had the lights out.  She had also forgotten to lock our door.

I think I stirred every time she moved that night, which was unusual since I am a very sound sleeper.   Literally, I believe I awakened to every single sound.  It was about 2 a.m. when I heard a very slight rustle of the newspaper I had placed on the floor. 

At first I thought my roommate had gotten up to the bathroom.  Instead, I opened my eyes to see a man, on his hands and knees, dressed all in black and within a shoulder’s reach at the foot of my bed going through my personal belongings.

My primal instinct was to release a coarse, throaty blood-chilling, scream that woke up my team mates on the floor above us.  Triggered by an intense and immediate fear I had never before experienced, that scream had come from deep in my diaphragm and translated even into the Russian language. 

The would-be thief reacted by sprinting out of our room like the devil himself was on his heels. I was about mid-way down the hall, still screaming, when reality set in and I mentally asked myself what I would do if I actually caught him.  (I’m sure he didn’t want to find out either.)

My roommate had awakened (of course), without her glasses and unable to see what I saw, believing I was having a nightmare.  I quickly told her I had just chased my “nightmare” down the hall.  Our teammates heard and came to our aid.  Both of us were still visibly shaken and I could barely speak above a whisper for the next 3 days.  I wanted to be anywhere but Russia that night. 

I learned from the hotel receptionist the next morning that break-ins in area hotels and thefts from tourists were a common occurrence.  All I know is that we barricaded our motel room door with furniture for the remainder of our stay in Moscow.

I believe there were Guardian angels watching over us that night.  I actually thanked God later for a night of insomnia, otherwise all the money I had for my entire stay in Russia would have been stolen and perhaps my roommate would have been victim as well.  Fortunately I had awakened and spoiled his plan and he got nothing.  I venture a guess that wherever he is, nearly 18 years later, if he hasn’t reaped an untimely death brought about by his own life of crime, he remembers that scream.

I believe I’ve proven that insomnia is not always a bad thing and neither is fear.  Fear, used positively can protect us or, if used negatively, can incapacitate us.   I overcame a deeply embedded childhood fear by traveling to Russia.   I reacted positively because of fear in the face of danger and became a more cautious traveler.   The memories of this journey to Russia and interacting with the Russian people have enriched my life.  If reading this story causes you to be more cautious about your surroundings resulting in safer travel, then I consider this experience worth sharing.

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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