Well, here we go.  This one is a doozy. Yes, there was a time when I had a stalker. This was several years ago. I wanna say it was almost ten years go.  So I was young, late twenties, but old enough that I probably should have known better.

I was working the evening shift here at the radio station.  I was hosting a show here in Sedalia, and also in Quincy/Hannibal.  Same show, two different stations.  The show was geared towards young people, and I'd get a lot of calls from up in Quincy from the teenagers of the world.  Some of them were pretty sweet and just wanted to hear their song request.  Some of them were prankers, some of them were chatty, some of them were just kids being kids.

I started to get regular calls.  There were about twenty or thirty "regulars".  One of them, though, stood out, because he sounded a lot older than the rest of the kids.  Like, a lot older. He seemed a little older than me.  He said his name was Jerrod.

After a little while, I started to notice things being sent to the station.  I had mentioned a webcomic I liked called Scary Go Round.  T-shirts were sent from that comic's website to here at the station.  I got a bouquet of flowers.  Another time pizza was sent to me that I didn't order.  He made a donation to the St Jude Radiothon in my name. I didn't know what was going on, but it was a little strange.

I started to get calls from Jerrod every night.  I didn't stay on for very long and kept it as business as I could... until one night when he said he was thinking about ending his life. I talked to him for a bit to encourage him to get some help.  It was quite scary, this stranger on the phone pouring his guts out to me, and I had no idea what to do.  He asked me for my personal email address so he could chat with me. I didn't want the guy to kill himself, I didn't know what else to do.

In hindsight, this was a mistake. 

But I gave it to him. I thought, maybe he's just lonely, maybe he just needs a friend, maybe I can really convince him to get help.  I spend a lot of time on the computer for work now, and I did then as well.  So I'd be doing my work, minding my own business, and I'd get a chat from Jerrod. It started out harmless enough.  Little chats, talking about movies or music or whatever.  Perfectly friendly, normal conversation. This went on for about six months or so. Everything was fine, until I told him about a date I went on.  Then it got..... more than a little odd.  He did a terrible painting of me based on my profile photo on the website.  I realized this was getting weird.  That was a hard 180 for me. I started to avoid him a little bit, and that's when things escalated.

He wrote me emails about how I was such a b***h and how I was the "town bicycle" and he didn't understand why I didn't want to talk to him.  I reminded him that there has to be a friendly distance between a listener and a radio host.  That... did not go over well. He then proceeded to try to friend me on Facebook, Linked In, every social media platform I was on.  He friended my sister (who didn't know him but she thought maybe he was an old high school friend she forgot about).  He was so angry, and had I guess been under the impression that I was somehow obligated to talk to him. As I talked to him less and less, he got angrier and angrier. It finally got to a breaking point.  He sent me an email saying that he would steal a car, drive it to my house, and crash it through the front porch and attempt to kill me, my father, and my cats.

That was the last straw.  So I told him I was going to block him from everything I could, and if he contacted me again, I would be notifying authorities.  He didn't really go away at first - he kept trying to contact me for about six months.  Then, he went away a little bit, and I'd get a request every now and then (which I would ignore). The last one I got was in 2013 - almost four years after I asked him to stop contacting me. Luckily for me, he never did make good on his threats.  But for quite a bit of time in that year, I walked around town nervously. I wondered if he could be here in town, or if he would come to the radio station.  Every day, I would do my normal activities, and anybody who looked remotely like him would give me the heebie jeebies.  I couldn't talk to my friend Mac's husband for about two years because he reminded me of this guy.

I got a little paranoid last year, and searched for his name on the internet.  It wasn't the result I'd hoped for, but to be honest it was a relief.  He had died.  He didn't end his own life, but he'd had health problems and had died of a heart attack.  I felt bad for his family. But.... again, I was relieved.  I was finally, really really free of him.

Luckily for me, that's the only stalker experience I have had.

I have learned from it, though.  I marvel at how naive I was back then.  I was old enough to know better.  I didn't ask for this to happen to me, but at least now I know a little better about how to conduct myself on the internet. So, the lesson is, don't give your personal email address to dudes in Illinois who might want to stalk you.

Learningly yours,