Thursday, 26 April 2007

1999 - Escape from Home

I often muse about the lack of control we have over our lives. We can't choose our parents (and thus our genes) or the environment in which we grow up and form our personalities. All through our lives, random events direct our actions... Have we really got freedom of choice? But enough of this philosophising...

And by a freak chance, one day an extremely attractive young lady presented herself to a middle-aged businessman. Although her dress did not enhance her good looks - was almost sober, in fact - her sexual magnetism shone through. Her clothes looked a little worn, but originally expensive, and her accent was middle-class.

"Can I work for you - for free?" she asked. And then, by way of explanation, "I've got agoraphobia and I need somewhere to stay during normal working hours while my boyfriend is working." She placed a folder on his desk containing her CV, references and the record of her school achievements.

The businessman thought that, although he didn't need any more employees, this young lady could be quite an asset to his business. She was bound to attract local young men - like bee
s around honey - and she might also encourage other young ladies to frequent his establishment. And she wouldn't cost him a penny! It was a win-win situation!

"No problem. When do you want to start?"

"Next Monday."

"See you then."

And that is how the businessman met his future wife. Pure chance.

Marie came to work for me on a voluntary basis in 1999. Her boyfriend at the time was working locally, although both of them originated a couple of hours' drive away on England's south coast. Marie felt the need to leave home and strike out on her own and he offered the opportunity - as long as she could find somewhere to stay during normal working hours.

She fitted in well with staff, business contacts and customers. More teens and twenties became customers as I had predicted. Although I found her just as attractive as all the other men in the town (who were calling in with increasing frequency), I did nothing about it. After all, I was from a different generation; I was the boss and she was the slave...oops! sorry, I mean the valued (voluntary!) member of staff; and, of course, she had a boyfriend.

Her agoraphobia didn't affect her (or anyone else) much while on my premises. She got taxis to and from work. Her OCD was more noticeable, but not terribly intrusive. She always travelled with a full handbag the size of a small sack, her camcorder (which she never used) in its case, her mobile phone and a heavy coat, no matter what the weather was like.

But in November, she caught a cold, and returned home. For no apparent reason, this made her agoraphobia much more serious, to the extent that by the week before Christmas, she was unable to leave her bedroom.

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