I’m not an easily frightened person. If I were, I would have been forced to deal with it a long time ago. Being an Army wife would have seen to that. Many of our spouses are TDY, involved in training exercises or deployed a good deal of the time. Whether or not we learn to adjust to being at home without our spouses, most of us learn clever ways to hide the fact that our husbands are away.
Before the booming Caller ID era, I used to answer the phone because I never knew when my husband may be on the other end, and I never knew how long the connection would survive. When the telemarketer asked for my husband, I would say, "I’m sorry he’s not available right now." The super-annoying ones would ask, "When would be a good time to call back." To which I thought, "in about seven months" but I couldn’t really say that.
Caller ID has taken care of that pesky little problem, as well as a few others.
CONTRACTORS: I had some carpenters in my house during a deployment. Each day, I would lay out mens shoes, clothing or items that made it appear that my husband was at home. I also removed a magnet, which clearly indicated I was the spouse of a deployed soldier, from the refrigerator. I conducted thorough reconnaissance missions of my house before strangers were allowed in, just to be sure there was no hint of my "situation."
REPAIRMEN: When my husband deployed, our air conditioning unit, which was brand new and was purchased during deployment (a story for another day), stopped working. Out came the repairman, who was the most thorough repairman I’ve ever had dispatched to my house. This man explained features that I didn’t even know existed. He wanted to troubleshoot something and asked me a series of questions that I didn’t have the answers to. Predictably, he then asked me to call my husband. I explained that my husband was in a meeting and wouldn’t be out for a while, thinking the explanation would take care of the dilemma. It didn’t, the repairman gave me his cell number and told me that my husband could call him and he could walk him through the setting based on their conversation. Uh oh…..
CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Last Christmas, while my husband was deployed, my girlfriend came to spend a few days with me. We stopped at the local gas station where I always purchase my gas. I am friendly with the workers there, but not so friendly that I tell them my business. My girlfriend has never met a stranger and she struck up a conversation with the cashier. She told him that we had been friends forever, and that she wanted to come spend some time with me while my husband was deployed. Of course, she didn’t think anything about it, but I cringed.
MECHANICS: Thankfully, I haven’t had complex car issues while my husband was away. Not that there aren’t women out there who don’t know their way around an engine, there are, but it’s often a dead give away that a husband is out of town, or that a woman lives alone, when a female brings the car in for major repairs.
It really doesn’t matter if we are easily spooked or if we’re completely comfortable at home without our spouses, one can’t be too careful these days. Unfortunately, there are many predators out there who are all too eager to take advantage of our situation.
I’ve heard some funny stories about the lengths to which milspouses have gone to hide deployment status from strangers, like the time a milspouse "borrowed" a husband from her friend. What’s your story?