We’d just come back from a walk. The dogs were in their crates because we were taking a shower and wanted to time to relax a bit without being interrupted by their barking. I was reading in bed, Lindsay just out of the shower.

The dogs started barking in a way that wasn’t normal. Similar, I’d imagine, to how a parent can discern their child’s cries, we can tell when our dogs are barking in an odd manner. This was an intense bark that sounded different from them just hearing a car door shutting outside.

I decide to go upstairs and check it out. I’m wearing shorts, no t-shirt. The dogs are still barking, though less intense. About halfway up the stairs I peek out the window through the blinds. Nothing there apparently. Take a few more steps up, look to my left, and there’s a man at the counter.

He’s looking down over Lindsay’s purse and is holding her wallet, inspecting it closely.

“What are you doing!”

“Um.. Just looking for some ID.” he says as he slowly lowers the wallet while continuing to look down at her purse. He did that thing that kids do where they’ll try really hard to pretend they’re not doing something wrong by acting as if nothing was wrong. Like when you’ve caught them holding a cookie and they slowly lower it back into the jar as if they were just inspecting it.

“I’m here to fix the A/C.”

My adrenaline spikes and I don’t remember the specifics of the rest. I tell him he shouldn’t be looking through my wife’s purse. He gets defensive. I tell him to get out of the cabin. I ask him if he took anything. He says no like it was the most ridiculous question he’s ever heard.

On the back of his shirt it says “Cabins of the Smokies”. He works here, he knows the codes. Why was he in my wife’s purse? White guy, shorter than me, loose fitting jeans. Red truck; Chevy, I think. He gets in the truck. I don’t get his name. I shut the door and lock it. My hands are shaking.

I immediately head downstairs and tell Lindsay. It wasn’t obvious at the time what I should do. Should I call the cops? Nothing was stolen. Should I call the company? We’d already spent 2 hours on hold over the past few days trying to get a hold of somebody. I want to go to the office but it’s a 20+ minute drive and I’m worried about leaving my family alone. After some debate I decide to drive over there. The dogs are out of their crates and can sense the energy in the room isn’t quite right.

Eventually I arrive and am able to talk to a manager. I recorded the conversation (Tennessee being a one-party state and all) but nothing incriminating happened. There’s no smoking gun. I’m angry, frustrated, and worried. He’s mostly professional, if somewhat timid. I want a refund but this guy just “has to take my word for it” and offers a partial refund. Whatever, I take it.

I get in the car and feel exhausted. It’s too much confrontation for me. Several things were going wrong this trip but I was ready to let it all go before this whole mess happened.

In my head I’m replaying everything over and over. I should’ve gotten his name. I shouldn’t have let him leave. Maybe I should have brought our Nest cameras so that there was some record of this. Maybe I will in the future.

Should the guy lose his job? Probably. But it’s unlikely to happen. I could pick him out of a lineup but I feel like I’m already spending too much energy on this. Writing about it here is the penultimate thing I can do to clear out the negative energy. A final couple of well-worded reviews on some travel sites should help make me feel better and help right my sense of justice in the world.

I’m thankful this didn’t happen in my actual home. That night I didn’t sleep well, partially because I was on edge. I heard some noise at one point and ran upstairs, heart racing to make sure everything was ok. I’m also thankful my dogs were there. They did what they do best and I love them for it.

This could have been a lot worse. It could have been somebody actually trying to rob us. It could’ve turned into a true home invasion. Thankfully it didn’t. There are probably some things I could do in the future to be better prepared and more secure for situations like that, but those will have to wait. The most important thing is that every is safe and we’re no longer in that place. Everything else is secondary.